Kentucky Cockfighting Pits and Traffickers Exposed in New Reports, Undercover Footage
Louisville, KY — Animal Wellness Action and Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) released a list of 16 cockfighting arenas from Butler to Pike counties that have illegally operated in the state. SHARK obtained drone footage just this weekend of hundreds of cockfighting enthusiasts dispersing in rapid fashion from a derby in Magoffin County in progress. The organizations are today releasing the actual coordinates of these fighting venues – a first-ever disclosure of this number of fighting arenas in any state in the nation.
The organizations also released details on six massive cockfighting breeding operators supplying fighting pits across the world. The organizations stress that there are dozens of other pits and traffickers who conduct illegal operations throughout the state.
The presence of the fighting pits and the cockfighting breeders is particularly alarming in light of the Avian Influenza virus that has spready to Kentucky and 47 other states. The connection between cockfighting and avian diseases is detailed in a new report from the Center for a Humane Economy.
“SHARK has pulled the curtain back on a network of fighting pits throughout the state,” said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK. “There is no reason for even one more animal to be hacked to death in any of these fighting venues.” While recognizing the good work of the Kentucky State Police in certain areas of the state, SHARK singled out KSP Post 9 for failing to act on authoritative information about fighting derbies.
The report identifies Shaker Hill Pit Club in Butler County, the New Pinemountain Game Club in Harlan County, Charlies Game Club in Martin County, and Honest Abe’s Game Club in McCreary County, and a dozen other pits that have had a long history of operations in the state.
In March 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice, with support from other federal authorities and the KSP, indicted 17 individuals for a range of animal fighting and bribery charges, including pit operators in Clay and Nicholas. One individual was charged with attempting to bribe a sheriff in Mason County.
Federal law bans possession and sale of fighting animals, and the information released today identifies big global players based in Kentucky.
“In addition to playing host to an extraordinary number of fighting arenas, Kentucky is at the center of the American and global cockfighting industry, with major traffickers shipping birds all over the world” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “These cockfighting sellers are violating federal anti-cruelty laws and tax laws and pocketing enormous sums of money in the process.”
- Dink Fair Gamefarm, apparently run by Albert Dink in Smithfield, is one of the largest gamecock farms in the United States, with thousands of birds seemingly raised for fighting purposes.
- Chris Copas, of Bowling Green, described his participation in cockfighting at the World Slashers Cup Derby in the Philippines earlier this year.
- Cody Boone proudly announced on his Facebook page that he’d sold out his “cocks and stags again” and shipped them to “Hawaii, Guam, Honduras, Philippines, Kansas, Colorado, California, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, New Mexico, Mexico, and many more.”
- Tammy Shive-Ayala, of Green River Gamefarm in Columbia, told one interviewer that she and her husband “send to breeders all over the world, Philippines, Guam, Mexico, Vietnam, Hawaii, everywhere, they go all over.”
Missing from the report is Bobby Fairchild, who appeared in our Kentucky report in August 2020. He has subsequently moved to Coal County, Okla. and maintains an enormous cockfighting complex there. SHARK obtained video of Mr. Fairchild’s wife delivering fighting birds to the Coalgate Post Office in January 2023. Mr. Fairchild has prior felony convictions for narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
A Philippines-based cockfighting broadcast company, known as BNTV came to the United States, with its hosts and production crew and visited 50 or so major cockfighting farms. During this U.S game farm tour, they produced and broadcast dozens of incriminating videos. With seven videos, Kentucky was second only to Oklahoma in the number of game fowl farms visited.
The Center for a Humane Economy also today pointed to its recently released 63-page report on the links between cockfighting and avian influenza and virulent Newcastle Disease. “By allowing a massive cockfighting industry to flourish in Kentucky, the state is putting its commercial poultry operations at risk,” said Dr. Jim Keen, director of veterinary sciences for the Center for a Humane Economy and the primary author of the report.
The HPAI (H5N1 strain) bird flu epidemic that began in February 2022 in Indiana has already killed nearly 60 million commercial and backyard poultry and unknown thousands, perhaps millions, of wild birds in 48 states over the past 12 months.
Virulent Newcastle disease can cause commercial and backyard poultry devastation similar to that of HPAI if not contained. There have been 15 introductions of vND into the United States since 1950, 10 of which occurred via the illegal smuggling of game cocks across our southern border from Mexico. (Virulent Newcastle disease is endemic in Mexico and all of Latin America.) Just three of those outbreaks cost the federal government more than $1 billion.
“The videos, drone footage, and written materials paint an unmistakable pattern of activity: organized crime built around animal cruelty,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action and former agricultural policy advisor for long-time former Congressman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
While federal law bans animal fighting anywhere in the U.S. and a range of associated activities, including transporting animals for fights elsewhere, Kentucky’s law is not the nation’s strongest, but it certainly enables Kentucky State Police to shut down all of these operations.
Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.
SHARK is a national animal-protection organization focused on documenting and exposing cruelty to animals and holding animal-abusers accountable under the law. With hard-hitting tactics and a fearless approach, along with expert use of technology, SHARK works to document human abuses of animals and show them to the world, with the aim of stopping these abuses once and for all. One of its major campaigns is to “Crush Cockfighting,” designed to dismantle the massive network of cockfighting pits and breeders operating clandestinely and even openly throughout the United States.