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September 16, 2011

Combating Cockfighting with Investigations, Advocacy, and Training

A law is only valuable if it’s put to work, and this week in Texas, The HSUS is putting this principle into action after pressing for tougher penalties against the cruel practice of cockfighting.

Texas cockfighting raid
Parker County Sheriff's Office
A rooster from a Texas cockfighting raid.

Texas has outlawed cockfighting for more than a century, but loopholes in the law allowed cockfighting to flourish. We had to prove that there was a problem with rampant cockfighting in order to justify a facelift for the statute. We did so by conducting, in late 2009 and in 2010, extensive investigations into cockfighting. Our undercover investigators infiltrated nearly 20 cockfighting pits and documented the existence of up to 100 major operations in the Lone Star State alone. Our investigation led to raids on cockfights in Dallas, Tyler, and Gunter, Texas.

This factual record and all of the publicity that flowed from it, along with some great work by allied animal welfare organizations and grassroots advocates, resulted in passage of legislation making it illegal to attend a cockfight, to possess animals with the intent to fight, or to possess cockfighting weapons. Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill earlier this year.

Now we are sharing the details of the new law with law enforcement officials throughout the state and helping to train them on investigating illegal animal fighting operations. Today, HSUS experts are in San Antonio providing training—in the form of eight-hour classes—for up to 50 law enforcement and animal control officers. Yesterday we trained another 50 in Houston. These trainings are conducted by animal fighting experts from our staff and from active duty law enforcement personnel.

Through Humane Society University, we set up trainings like this around the country on a regular basis, training more than 1,000 law enforcement officers a year. When a state passes a strong new law that requires vigorous enforcement, we are there to share our expertise.

It’s all part of our effort to rid the nation of this cruel conduct, especially so as we fortify the legal framework that treats this behavior as a crime.

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