Animal Welfare Groups Applaud Kentucky State Police for Making Weekend Arrests for Cockfighting in Casey County

Acting on a tip from SHARK, KSP responded and made arrests, marking their latest action to enforce the state’s anti-cruelty law

Louisville, KY — Animal Wellness Action and Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) are applauding the work of Kentucky State Police for their fast action in charging 14 men with animal cruelty stemming from a cockfight staged this weekend in Casey County.

The two arrests and 12 citations were made Sunday at a known fighting pit brought to light by continuing investigations by SHARK. Animal Wellness Action and SHARK have been investigating illegal cockfighting trafficking operations and illegal pits throughout the state, and called on state and federal authorities to act on credible, detailed reports of illegal animal fighting activities.

Published news accounts say troopers received a call about an organized “chicken fight” happening at a home on KY 837 in the Bethelridge community. Law enforcement discovered an elaborate contest venue for cockfighting that included a caged pit, seats for spectators, and even a concession stand. Police arrested 59-year-old Leo Harris and 39-year-old Christopher Harris on charges of second degree animal cruelty charges and also cited 12 others for animal cruelty.

“We are grateful to the Kentucky State Police for dramatically stepping up its anti-cockfighting enforcement actions,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “We often know precisely where the cockfighting arenas are located and when the fights are set to occur. When cockfighting organizers and attendees understand that law enforcement is serious about busting up these fighting rings, they will retreat and halt this form of animal abuse.”

“SHARK has been critical of the Kentucky State Police in past years for not acting on information of staged illegal fights, but we have nothing but praise for the agency and its officers for busting this cockfight in Casey County and taking prior actions that reflect serious action to halt this barbarism,” said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK.

Last year, leaders from Animal Wellness Action and SHARK met with state officials and the Kentucky State Police Commissioner and alerted them to concerns that the law enforcement agency was not acting on detailed information provided to police about staged fights. KSP has been far more responsive after that dialogue. SHARK and Animal Wellness Action provided a roadmap for enforcement by previously identifying 15 major operational cockfighting arenas in the state.

“In addition to providing a venue for animal cruelty and other crimes, cockfighting puts a coal-black stain on Kentucky’s reputation across the country and the world,” said Pam Rogers, state director for Animal Wellness Action. “Tougher laws and more crackdowns like this one underscore that we are a family- and business-friendly state that believes in the rule of law.”

To help combat cockfighting as well as dogfighting — also common in Kentucky — Animal Wellness Action has launched a new reward program that offers cash not only for information that leads to arrests and convictions, but also for tips on the location of planned or occurring cockfights in the state. The organization will provide $2,500 to any individual who provides tips to it or law enforcement that result in arrests in Kentucky for illegal cockfighting under state or federal law. Amounts for other information will vary based on the credibility and timeliness of the tips.

Tipsters may contact

Legislative Remedies in the Works

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are now considering the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, and the authors hope to include the provision as an amendment to the Farm bill. Both pieces of legislation were driven by concerns for the barbarism of animal fighting, other criminal behavior commingled with it, and disease threats to poultry posed by transporting fighting roosters.

The FIGHT Act, amending Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, would enhance the enforcement opportunities by banning on-line gambling on dogfights and cockfights; halting the shipment of mature roosters (chickens only) shipped through the U.S. mail (it is already illegal to ship dogs through the mail); creating a citizen suit provision, after proper notice to federal authorities, to allow private right of action against illegal animal fighters; and enhancing forfeiture provisions to include real property for animal fighting crimes.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

SHARK is a non-profit organization with supporters around the U.S. and beyond. SHARK receives no government funding and completely relies on donations and grants to work on issues ranging in scope from local to worldwide. With a small core of volunteers, and a staff of five, SHARK battles tirelessly against rodeos, bullfighting, pigeon shoots, turkey shoots, canned hunts and more. President Steve Hindi has an open invitation to debate “the opposition.” Because of his domination of past debates with animal abusers, however, it has been years since the opposition has taken him on.