Target: Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell
Goal: To increase penalties and jail terms for those involved in cockfighting in Louisiana
Under great national scrutiny, Louisiana became the last state to outlaw cockfighting within its borders in 2007 with the ban taking effect in August, 2008. While this was a win in the ongoing battle against cruel animal fighting, opponents of the ban were outspoken in their defense of the practice referring to it as an integral part of rural Louisiana culture. Louisiana lawmakers, perhaps bowing to the pressure of the opposition, failed to make the penalties for cockfighting severe enough to act as a successful deterrent against this very lucrative illegal business.
Cockfighting is a multi-million dollar a year illegal franchise that, according to the Humane Society of the United States, entices other illegal behavior including violence, drug distribution, and organized crime. It is estimated that more than twenty thousand dollars changes hands in a single night at the betting tables of cock fight arenas yet, in Louisiana, cockfighting is a misdemeanor with fines of no more than $1,000 or 6 months jail time for first time offenders. Owners of fighting birds and participants in cockfights face fines of no more than $500 and spectators at fighting events may be fined up to $1,000 for each occurrence meaning there is no additional penalty for repeat offenders. Possessing cock fighting implements and equipment is not illegal in Louisiana leading one to ask, what legal uses does the state think its residents have for with this equipment?
In contrast to the slap on the wrist punishments imposed in Louisiana, 38 states have made cockfighting a felony within their borders with fines ranging from $1,000 – $25,000 and jail terms from one to five years. Owning cockfighting implements and equipment is illegal in 13 states and is a felony in six of those states. Possession of fighting birds is a felony in 18 states and a misdemeanor with possible fines up to $5,000 in others.
For large cockfighting rings, this blood sport remains very lucrative in Louisiana and the state has quickly become a beacon for out of state criminals who find the rewards for fighting in Louisiana far outweigh the risk.
Cockfighting is an extreme form of animal cruelty in which birds are required to fight to the death. Losing birds that don’t die in the fight are often left injured and abandoned to die a slow, miserable death. These birds are pumped with steroids and stimulants and outfitted with knives and razors. While fighting bird owners invest a great deal of money in their birds, this money is spent for the sole purpose of producing a formidable killing machine. Attempts to rehabilitate fighting birds always end in failure and birds seized from fighting rings are either destroyed or placed in a sanctuary where they must live a solitary life for fear they would injure other birds, people, or animals.
Louisiana hasn’t done enough to put an end to cockfighting in the state. Some would argue that Louisiana merely took action to improve its national reputation and folded to the multimillion dollar cockfighting franchise. Please ask Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to come off the fence with regard to cock fighting and introduce strict penalties to deter criminals from selling animal cruelty as a form of entertainment.
Dear Attorney General Caldwell
In 2007, Louisiana took a stand against animal cruelty by passing legislation to criminalize cockfighting in the state. Though this step was admirable, it was only the first step in deterring this cruel criminal activity. Louisiana is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to penalties for cockfighting essentially making it a safe harbor for cockfighting in the United States. Until you take action to impose more severe penalties for cockfighting, this illegal franchise will continue to profit within your borders.
Cockfighting is a multimillion dollar franchise with tens of thousands of dollars changing hands on a daily basis and cockfights have been known to attract other criminal elements including gangs, drug dealers, prostitution rings, and organized crime. It has been said that cockfighting is a traditional part of rural Louisiana culture. While this may be true, your soft stand on this criminal behavior is now attracting potentially dangerous criminal elements from other parts of the country to your communities where cockfighting continues to occur.
Please consider imposing tougher penalties on cockfighting for the welfare of the birds and for the safety of the citizens of Louisiana.
[Your Name Here]