Utah Cockfighters interviewed about our love of gamecocks

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“LIBERTY is doing what you want. NOT telling others to do what you want.” – ANON

“LIBERTY is eating chicken and wearing leather jacket because you wanted to. NOT telling others to eat chicken and wear leather jacket because you wanted to.” – GTTE

Thanks to Mark Saal for reaching out to us in order to write a balanced article (see bottom). Mark can be reached at 801-625-4272, msaal@standard.net.

As an individual liberty activist, I promote LIBERTY FOR ALL as protected by the United States Constitution.

  1. Prostitution is an honest profession and is an individual liberty.
    • Criminalizing working girls ONLY benefits the organized crime syndicates and human traffickers.
  2. Gambling is an individual liberty.
    • Criminalizing gambling ONLY benefits large corporations.
    • Gambling is everywhere from Stock Market, Poker on TV, Powerball, Mega Millions, Horse Racing, March Madness, and other sports betting.
  3. Alcohol is an individual liberty.
    • The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which was effective January 17, 1920 (prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States) was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment of the United States which was ratified December 5, 1933.
    • Alcohol is legal. Red wine, white wine, vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum, beer.
  4. LGBTs are gaining their FREEDOM; one court case at a time and one state legislature at a time.
    • Criminalizing LGBT benefits ONLY special interest of some religious groups.
    • Legal Same Sex Marriage: CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA
    • Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships: CO, NV, OR, WI
  5. Marijuana Lovers are gaining their FREEDOM; one court case at a time and one state legislature at a time.
    • Criminalizing marijuana benefits ONLY special interest of large corporations.
    • Marijuana or Hemp is a source of food protein, building materials, fuel, plastics, medicines, textile among others.
    • Legal Marijuana: CO, WA
    • Medical or Decriminalized: AK, CA, CT, OR, MA, ME, NV, RI, VT, AZ, DE, HI, IL, MO, MI, NH, NJ, NM, OH, MN, MS, NC, NE, NY

Cockfighting Freedom is next to be legal again.

  • August 2008 was the last legal cockfighting in the Louisiana and in the United States mainland.
  • Criminalizing cockfighting ONLY benefits the donation scammers, pretending to be for animal rights, who do not even own animals of worth or animal farms.
  • The gamecocks and the cockfighters have symbiotic lives through the world of cockfighting sports. No one take good care of the gamecocks except the cockfighters. Cockfighting Sports make the gamecock species stronger and healthier. Due to its superb genetics, gamecock breeds have been used to develop different layer and meat chicken breeds.

– Gameness til the End

Down-home battle chickens or criminal cockfighters?

Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner staff, Mar 1 2014 – 9:38pm

Click here for the video interview.

Cockfighting is just good, wholesome entertainment.

Well, either that, or an obscene blood sport involving drugs, prostitutes and gambling. It all depends on whom you ask.

Ask John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy for the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States, and he’ll tell you it’s a cruel practice that ought to be eliminated in a civil society. He was in the state recently to support a bill moving through the Utah Legislature aimed at strengthening cockfighting laws.

“There are a lot of animal issues out there that people can discuss and debate, but cockfighting — like dogfighting — is one of those issues where animals suffer and die for something that has no socially redeemable value whatsoever,” Goodwin said during a recent visit to the Standard-Examiner. “There really is no logical defense for cockfighting.”

Not so fast, say game-fowl enthusiasts, who are beginning to mount a vigorous defense of their beloved sport in the face of growing pressure. One such enthusiast, who asked to be identified only as “Bob from Box Elder County,” says the Humane Society is simply using scare tactics to push its agenda.

“We have barbecues, and fight a few roosters,” he said. “This ain’t cruel, this is competition. Cruelty is not feeding them, not watering them, not housing them, and not using them for what they were intended.”

And in case you were wondering, Bob wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Most of the people living in his town — including law enforcement — know what he does. Bob has not asked the newspaper to omit his full name because he fears prosecution, or out of shame.

“Hell, no,” he says emphatically.

Rather, Bob worries because he says the animal-rights movement is “inherently violent,” and that its members have been known to vandalize, burn and threaten.

“I’m an ex-paratrooper, I spent 10 years in law enforcement, and I taught hand-to-hand combat,” he said. “But these animal-rights activists scare me. I don’t want to sound like a coward; I’m not concerned about myself, but I am worried about my family.”

For 25 years, Bob has been raising game fowl to sell to others, and for his own personal use. In Utah, it’s not illegal to raise the animals; it is, however, a misdemeanor to fight them. He estimates that there are perhaps 40 to 50 cockfighting enthusiasts within a 25-mile radius of his place.

These days, cockfights don’t occur all that often, according to Bob. Last year, his group of about 10 friends and fellow enthusiasts held three “derbies,” as they’re called. They’ve yet to hold one this year. The cockfighting season usually runs from January to the end of June, about the time the roosters start molting.

To the death

Roosters, which are extremely territorial, have a hard spur on the back of each leg that are used to fight off other males. In cockfighting, these spurs are trimmed, and artificial metal spurs — often made of sharp spikes, knives or razor blades — are attached to the legs. Two roosters are then placed in proximity to one another, and instinct takes over. It’s usually a fight to the death, with money riding on the two combatants.

“They’ll put these weapons on the rooster, so when they fight they will stab and slash each other to pieces,” Goodwin said.

Why not just use the rooster’s natural spurs? They don’t inflict enough damage quickly enough, according to Goodwin.

“Remember, cockfighting is a gambling crime, and the natural-heel cockfight … goes pretty slow and the gamblers don’t like that,” he said. “And also, it’s not as bloody. So they’ll cut the natural spur off the rooster’s leg, tie on a knife, and that way the fights are over faster — which satisfies the gamblers — and, they’re bloodier — which satisfies the people that are there just to watch animals destroy each other.”

Although it’s legal in a number of other places in the world, including Mexico, the Philippines and some U.S. territories, Goodwin says cockfighting is banned in all 50 states. It’s a felony in 40 states, and a misdemeanor in the other 10, including Utah. Right now, the Legislature is considering a bill that would make cockfighting a felony on the second offense. That measure recently passed the Senate, and now goes to the House.

A magnet state?

One of the reasons for the bill, proponents say, is that Utah is one of the few states in which cockfighting isn’t a felony (South Dakota and Hawaii are the two others out West; the rest are Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama). As such, they believe cockfighters will gravitate here to take advantage of the more lenient laws.

“The issue is, cockfighters … seek out locations with weaker penalties because they know that the potential gambling winnings will be far in excess of a misdemeanor fine,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin says when cockfights move into communities, the people involved generally bring with them a host of other crimes.

“Cockfighting doesn’t just hurt the animals,” he said, “it hurts communities.”

Goodwin says drug cartels from Mexico have been linked to cockfighting pits, and that prostitution, underage drinking and — of course — gambling often accompany the fights.

“It’s both an animal cruelty crime and a gambling crime,” Goodwin said. “I know that the Utah Legislature is proud of Utah being one of just two states where no form of legal gambling is recognized. Well, cockfighting is gambling, and it would be completely consistent with their position to crack down on this crime.”

Animal-lovers

Cockfighting supporters say this talk of increased crime is just plain nonsense.

“The people against us are not informed,” says Tim Fitzgerald, a second-generation cockfighting supporter who raises game fowl in Bluffdale. “They say cockfighting involves drugs, underage drinking and prostitutes. None of that happens. We don’t have prostitutes … and we’re too busy taking care of the roosters to drink.”

Bob, of Box Elder County, is equally offended by the Humane Society’s characterization of cockfighters.

“I’m not mean, I’m not violent, I don’t gamble, I don’t drink,” he said. “I still smoke cigarettes, but I don’t smoke dope. And I don’t run guns.”

And, Bob says, he’s not cruel to animals; indeed, he considers himself an animal lover. He’s got farm animals of all kinds running around his rural place, including four extremely well-fed, happy dogs.Like himself, Bob says most cockfighters in Utah are either small-business owners or work in responsible jobs at well-established companies. And both he and Fitzgerald don’t even believe law enforcement sees cockfighting as a problem.

For years, cockfighting was a class C misdemeanor, and Fitzgerald said that whenever someone would complain and police were called to a cockfight, officers would be less-than-enthusiastic about pursuing the crime.

“They’d pull up, leave their lights flashing, and not come in for 30 minutes,” Fitzgerald said. “Then, they’d walk in, of course there’d be nothing there, and they’d just say, ‘You boys better disperse.’ ”

Bob thinks that attitude continues today in law enforcement.

“Cops aren’t interested in enforcing any of this,” he explained. “This is a law looking for a crime.”

What’s more, Bob says making cockfighting illegal is particularly ironic given the number of abortions performed in this country every year.

“And they want to make me a felon?” he asks.

In 25 years of cockfights, Bob says he’s only seen one fistfight at a derby. And it wasn’t even between cockfighters; it was between two fly fishermen who both wanted the feathers from one of the losing birds.

“It was a fight over a dead-chicken barrel in Arizona,” Bob said. “Two fly-tiers were fighting over a dead bird.”

Good old days

Bob’s current game-fowl-raising operation pales in comparison to what it once was.

“It’s nothing like when it was legal in Arizona and New Mexico,” he said.

At its height, Bob’s operation involved raising 200 birds. He’d travel to the Southwest for bouts — big ones — with impressive payouts. The most he ever paid to enter a cockfight was $2,500, in New Mexico. But his birds did well there, and he brought home $86,000.

Ah, but those days are long gone, Bob says. Four years ago, he downsized, burning a lot of his pens. Currently, he can accommodate 86 birds in individual pens.

And unlike the days of 3,000-seat cock pits in places like Arizona and New Mexico, here in Utah today cockfights are fairly informal affairs between friends, according to enthusiasts. Maybe 10 competitors will gather — Bob and his friends held just three cockfights last year — and they’ll pay a $200 entry fee to fight four or five birds. Each bird fights once, and the rooster man who wins the most fights takes all winnings.

Raising these birds to sell to other cockfighters isn’t a big money-maker, either. Bob recently sold 11 roosters, at $200 apiece, but says when you consider he spends $400 a month on feed, vitamins and the like — and that it takes two years before a rooster is even ready to fight — that’s not exactly a recipe for getting rich.

“I ain’t making money,” he said. “This is love. This is just what we do.”

David Devereaux, director of the American Gamefowl Defense Network, in Tacoma, says cockfighters are finally beginning to organize, and they believe they can not only defeat laws like the one proposed here in Utah, but also make the sport legal again.

“We’d like to see it as protected status,” Devereaux said of cockfighting. “This community has adopted the phrase, ‘Let’s change the law, not break the law.’ People are legislatively being made criminals.”

‘Just chickens’

As for the charge of animal cruelty, gamecock enthusiasts say that when it comes to chickens, that designation simply does not exist. Fitzgerald points out that chickens were not even included in the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958.

“I think the cruelty arguments aren’t applicable,” Devereaux said. “It’s legal to go to a pet store, buy a baby chick, and take it home and feed it to a snake.”

Bob puts it another way: He says anyone can buy chickens, put them in their backyard, and dispose of them in any way they see fit — there are no laws governing cruelty to poultry.

“You can take a Girl Scout troop out there and beat (those chickens) to death with a baseball bat,” Bob said.

Besides, Devereaux says, gamecocks are taken much better care of than chickens raised for commercial food production.

“Comparatively, they live the life of Riley compared to commercial poultry,” he said.

Fitzgerald agrees: “These chickens live a life of luxury. They are an absolute athlete, and are treated as such.”

In the final analysis, Bob says fighting is what gamecocks have been bred to do — for 4,000 years. He points to one of his roosters in a cage: “All that is, is two legs and a crapload of feathers.”

And he’s proud of the fact that his chickens are no chickens when it comes to fighting.

“These roosters better damn well die facing the right direction,” he said.

And for those still squeamish about cockfighting? Or thinking it’s similar to fighting dogs?

“We’re not talking dogs,” Bob said. “There’s a difference between pit dogs and roosters. We don’t eat 13 billion dogs a year, and chickens don’t sleep in  the house.”

Concludes Bob: “They’re just chickens.”




poultry gamefowl chicken gamecock

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