WASHINGTON, D.C. — Animal Wellness Action has obtained a secret schedule of cockfighting derbies planned for “The Dome” in Dededo starting on New Year’s Day and continuing through the month of January. A source within the cockfighting community shared the schedule with Animal Wellness Action, which worked to pass the federal law to outlaw cockfighting everywhere and subsequently campaigned to see that the law is enforced on Guam and throughout the remainder of the United States. The biggest outlays of cash are set for Saturdays, with each entrant in a three-cock derby required to pay $600 into the pot, and with smaller pots for fights on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
The schedule for cockfights describes a “Grand Opening” for the “Dededo Game Club,” which had been the main arena on Guam prior to the national ban on cockfighting taking effect on December 20, 2019. The Congress amended the federal Animal Fighting law specifically to extend all prohibitions against cockfighting to Guam, Puerto Rico, and the other territories. Cockfighting interests challenged the constitutionality of the law, and several federal courts, including the U.S. District Court for Guam, ruled that the United States engaged in a proper exercise of its authority in imposing the ban. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirming that cockfighting is a crime everywhere in the country.
“The organizers of these planned cockfights are engaged in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. law,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “They are disregarding and disrespecting the norms and the laws of a civil society.”
“The people organizing these fights should unwind their illegal plan of action,” he added. “If they do not, federal authorities should be present to arrest these lawbreakers.”
Earlier this year, AWA and AWF obtained yet more shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture revealing that illegal shipments of fighting birds continue. In fact, shipments of fighting birds increased 600 percent from the prior year – from 396 animals for all of 2020 to 1,340 for the first six months of the year. Cockfighters are on track to approach the shipment of nearly 3,000 fighting roosters for the year. AWA is requesting the latest shipping records from the Department.
“Guam-based cockfighters haven’t been buying fighting animals from the mainland simply to burn their money,” added Pacelle. “They are buying birds to fight them and gamble on the bloodletting, and now we have sniffed out their plans at the Dededo Game Club.”
Of the 10,000 fighting birds shipped to Guam, according to shipping records of the Guam Department of Agriculture over the last four years, the top 10 importers of fighting animals on Guam received about 60 percent of the fighting birds. John Bottoms of Oklahoma has sold nearly 2,000 of them (one-fifth), while another 60 Americans sold the remainder of the birds. All of these individuals are steeped in the enterprise of cockfighting.
It has been illegal since 2002, and a felony since 2007, to transport or sell roosters for fighting across state or territorial lines. It has been a federal felony since December 2019 to operate a fighting pit or to participate in an animal fight in the territories.
On November 19th, 36 Members of Congress wrote to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and urged them to crack down on shipments of fighting animals through the U.S. mails, citing the brisk trade to Guam in their letter.
Here are the Department of Agriculture data on exports of fighting birds from U.S. states to Guam, including for the first six months of 2021.
Per calendar year:
- Nov – Dec 2016 total number of roosters exported: 370 (2 months in 2016)
- Jan – Dec 2017 total number of roosters exported: 3819
- Jan – Dec 2018 total number of roosters exported: 2979
- Jan – Dec 2019 total number of roosters exported: 1621
- Jan – Dec 2020 total number of roosters exported: 396
- Jan – June 2021 total number of roosters exported: 1340 (6 months in 2021)
AWA and AWF maintain www.EndCockfighting.org, which serves as a comprehensive resource about the subject and an action center for citizens who want to help combat animal crimes.