The Humane Society of the United States is calling on House Speaker Greg Stumbo to strengthen the state’s cockfighting laws. The request from Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle comes after a cockfighting ring was recently busted in McDowell, Kentucky. Three of Stumbo's distant relatives are accused of running the operation. John Goodwin is the director of animal-cruelty policy at the Humane Society.
“Kentucky has one of the weakest cockfighting laws in the nation. The USDA’s affidavit said that is why people were coming from so many other states to the cockfights,” said Goodwin. “This is a lose-lose for animals and Kentucky’s communities, because this law is so weak it’s attracting this criminal element to Kentucky. They need to make it a felony, turn off the magnet and keep these criminals and animal abusers away from Kentucky.”
Kentucky is one of only nine states where cockfighting isn't a felony offense. It carries a misdemeanor charge in Kentucky, even though attending a fight is now a federal felony.
An undercover video released in February by the Humane Society showed – what it described – as inhumane conditions at a hog farm in Owensboro. Under an amendment proposed by the Senate agriculture committee on Tuesday, taking secret videos like that would be against the law.
The amendment was added to the House bill that dealt with the ways animals could be euthanized.The amendment declares that any photographs or video taken without a farmer's permission would be considered a crime.
Paul Shapiro with the Humane Society of the United States called it an attempt to silence the investigations they conduct.
“Animal cruelty exposés often rely on video and photographic evidence,” said Shapiro. “The meat industry’s response to our exposés is to try to criminalize the mere act of whistle blowing at their operations, which shows you just how much they have to hide.”