by Cory Stewart
Office of Public Information
The U.S. Senate late Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Elton Gallegly, (R-California) that makes it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison to transport dogs or roosters across state or international borders for the purpose of animal fighting, and it prohibits the interstate and foreign commerce of knives and gaffs designed for use in cockfighting.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 26, on a 368-39 vote. This bill received overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both houses and is expected to be sent to the White House for the President's signature in a few days.
"This piece of legislation sends the message that Congress recognizes the need to give local law enforcement the tools they need to combat this cruel criminal enterprise," Gallegly said.
Now that Congress has taken it upon itself to toughen laws on cockfighting, the spotlight has shifted to Louisiana, the only state where cockfighting remains legal. Congressional approval of this measure comes two weeks before the start of Louisiana's legislative session in which four anti-cockfighting bills have been pre-filed. The bills range from an immediate ban to a phase-out over three years. Although politicians have been reluctant to risk a backlash from rural constituents, polls have shown that most Louisianians oppose the bloody practice of cockfighting. Will the argument of cultural phenomenon be enough to defend cockfighting as it has in the past?
"Louisiana is now standing alone," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "We're prepared to hit this issue hard, now that New Mexico is done and Congress is done, our full energy in terms of anti-cockfighting is on Louisiana."