Ohio Committee Passes Bill to Crack Down on Animal Fighting
May 14th, 2008
The Humane Society of the United States praised Ohio’s House Criminal Justice Committee for passing a bill to strengthen the state’s animal fighting laws by a unanimous vote. H.B. 415 would raise cockfighting from a misdemeanor to a class 4 felony (punishable by a maximum $5,000 fine and/or six to 18 months imprisonment). The bill is sponsored by Reps. Lou Blessing, R– Colerain Township, and John Domenick, D–Smithfield.
“Forcing animals to mutilate each other for the sake of gambling money and a sick sense of entertainment is animal cruelty at its worst,” said Dean Vickers, Ohio state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “It’s time for Ohio law to assign meaningful punishment to these criminals.”
The bill will now be sent to the House Rules Committee, and The HSUS is calling for its swift passage. Ohio has one of the weakest anti-cockfighting laws in the nation, and has become a magnet for cockfighters who view such penalties as simply the cost of doing business.
Making cockfighting a felony in Ohio would equate the Buckeye State with its neighboring states of Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which all designate felony-level penalties for the crime. The current class 4 misdemeanor penalties for cockfighting in Ohio are no greater than those of a speeding ticket.
- Tens of thousands of people are involved in cockfighting nationwide.
- Common cockfighting practices include breeding birds for viciousness, drugging them to heighten aggression, and fitting their legs with razor-sharp knives or gaffs resembling ice picks.
- Law enforcement raids across the country have revealed that cockfights, which are frequently attended by children, involve illegal gambling and — as a result of the large amount of cash present — firearms and other weapons are also often present.
- Law enforcement officials have documented a strong connection between cockfighting and the distribution of illegal drugs.
- The illegal transport of fighting birds can spread deadly diseases to people and poultry.