Press Release

Multiple Arrests for Illegal Cockfight in Connecticut, Officers Witness Blood Sport Firsthand

The Nutmeg State not immune to dogfighting, cockfighting, as Congress considers the FIGHT Act

Waterbury, CT — Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy reacted to eight arrests following police officers busting an alleged cockfighting ring in a large garage in Waterbury, where officers witnessed the staged fights and the illegal gambling that always accompanies the crime. Six of the eight arrests were citizens of Massachusetts.

“We applaud Waterbury police for acting swiftly to break up an illegal cockfight. Staged animal fighting is barbarism, with the handlers affixing sharp knives or curved icepicks to the legs of birds placed in a pit,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center“Cockfighting is routinely commingled with related crimes of illegal gambling, narcotics trafficking, money laundering and human violence.”

Staged animal fighting is a national issue of crime and public health, as fighting animals smuggled into the United States threaten the commercial poultry industry, Pacelle added. Ten of 15 outbreaks of virulent Newcastle Disease in the United States are directly tied to smuggled fighting roosters from Mexico, with just three outbreaks costing taxpayers $1 billion. Moreover, public health officials are increasingly worried about a zoonotic “spillover” of the disease from birds to other mammals, including humans, with potentially nightmarish consequences.

Reward Program

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

A National Solution

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are promoting the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Connecticut, is a cosponsor of the bipartisan legislation.

The FIGHT Act, amending Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, would enhance the enforcement opportunities by banning  gambling on live or simulcasted animal fighting ventures; 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

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter