Cockfighting Foes Push Stronger Penalties (Again)

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee lawmaker who wants to see stiffer penalties for cockfighting said he doesn’t know who would oppose something that is “synonymous with gambling, alcohol and drugs.”
Republican state Rep. Jon Lundburg of Bristol said he plans to sponsor a bill that would remove Tennessee from the lineup of 11 states that punish cockfighting as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Lundburg said he intends for the legislation to also increase penalties for cockfight spectators, partly because they frequently bring along children.
“Unfortunately it is one of those family sports where kids are there,” he said.
Lundburg said the bill will likely be introduced in about a week.
Tennessee lawmakers have previously refused to approve similar measures.
Humane Society animal cruelty policy director John Goodwin told the Johnson City Press that cockfighting “is in retreat in states that have imposed tough penalties.”
Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro said he plans to sponsor the measure in the Senate.
Ketron said a sheriff in his district has told him that cockfighting is a problem but enforcing with existing violations carrying a $50 fine “they are right back at it the next day.”
Ketron said legislators get pressure to oppose tougher penalties for cockfighting and increasing financial penalties on anything will be difficult this year. He said some people claim that cockfighting is “biblical, that they ought to be able to fight.”
Ketron also said a major reason to stiffen the penalty is that typically at cockfight children are exposed and in some cases “go around taking up money.”
“There’s a lot of drugs, a lot of alcohol and a lot of dirty money and weapons,” he said.
Goodwin said increased penalties in some neighboring states has made Tennessee more attractive for cockfighting. He said a cockfight raided in Polk County in June 2010 involved mostly by out-of-state people.
A crying 10-year-old girl at the Polk County raid said she was there to be with her father, who also was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Investigators seized $20,000 and county investigators, members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and federal agents handed out more than 100 misdemeanor offense citations. Gaffs used by roosters, scales and other related paraphernalia were also seized.
An e-mail statement from the Humane Society said agents seized about 150 roosters.

One thought on “Cockfighting Foes Push Stronger Penalties (Again)

  1. Eric Holcombe

    “Investigators seized $20,000…”
    But no drugs or weapons or alcohol?
    Odd that Rep. Lundberg is concerned about all that alcohol, but is pushing legislation to bring more of it to our groceries.
    I hear families go there too.
    And they sell drugs – and lottery tickets – and tobacco products and pornography. So groceries will soon be synonymous with alcohol, gambling and drugs. Will I be contributing to the delinquency of a minor if I bring my children along to shop?

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