Saturday, May 05, 2007

House Committee in Louisiana Recommends Making Cockfighting Illegal in 2008

Well, a little late, but better then than never. We’ll see.

Article:

La. House panel OKs ban on cockfighting in 2008


http://www.leesvilledailyleader.com/articles/2007/
05/04/news/news6.txt


By DOUG SIMPSON | Associated Press
May 3, 2007

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Louisiana, the last state where cockfighting is legal, should ban the practice _ but not until 2008, a state House committee has decided.

New Mexico banned cockfighting earlier this year, increasing pressure on Louisiana lawmakers to do the same after years of resistance. Members of the House Agriculture Committee tried and failed to agree on a bill last year, but on Thursday unanimously approved a compromise measure to criminalize staged rooster fights beginning in December 2008.

"We shouldn't be the last state," said Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, a sponsor. "We should have beat New Mexico last year."

The panel's main point of dispute was whether to ban cockfighting this year or give people involved in the industry time to sell their roosters and find new careers. Rep. Jack Smith argued it would be unfair to immediately impose a ban and make cockfighters criminals.

"I want to be humane not only to the chickens, but to the people who own the chickens," said Smith, D-Franklin.
EnvironmentalDefense.org

Animal rights advocates opposed delaying the ban, arguing that cockfighting is animal abuse that should be criminalized immediately.

Michael Markarian, an executive vice president with the Humane Society of the United States, said people who raise the roosters and stage the fights have had warning that cockfighting is on its last legs.

"There has been plenty of advanced notice," he said.

Cockfighting enthusiasts said they need more time. Richard Apshire, owner of a cockfighting arena in Calcasieu Parish, said he has 50 employees who will need to find new jobs.

Animal rights groups also said penalties for those convicted of staging cockfights should be tougher. The measure makes cockfighting a misdemeanor with penalties of up to six months in prison and $1,000 in fines.

Cockfighting is a felony in 33 states, according to the U.S. Humane Society, which argued for tougher penalties in Louisiana.

The measure, by Ritchie and Rep. Mike Strain, R-Covington, goes to the full House for debate. House Speaker Joe Salter, D-Florien, and Gov. Kathleen Blanco have said they'll support some form of cockfighting ban.

A competing bill that would ban cockfighting this year is awaiting debate in a Senate committee. That measure, by Sen. Art Lentini, has the support of animal rights groups.

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