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Find out the disgusting

facts concerning

Chicken Fighting

Chicken fighting fact Sheet

Laws against chicken fighting
Chicken Fighting is illegal in 48 states and the District of
Columbia, and all interstate transportation or export of birds for
fighting purposes is prohibited. Read the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have made chicken fighting
a felony offense. Thirty states and the District of Columbia prohibit
the possession of birds for fighting. And 40 states and the District
of Columbia prohibit being a spectator at bird fights.

This information is current as of October 2003.

1. What is chicken fighting?
Chicken Fighting is a centuries-old blood sport in which two or more
specially bred birds, known as game birds, are placed in an enclosure
to fight, for the primary purposes of gambling and entertainment. A
chicken fight usually results in the death of one of the birds; sometimes
it ends in the death of both. A typical chicken fight can last anywhere
from several minutes to more than half an hour.

2. How does it cause animal suffering?

The birds, even those who do not die, suffer in chicken fights. The birds
cannot escape from the fight, regardless of how exhausted or injured
they become. Common injuries include punctured lungs, broken bones,
and pierced eyes. Such severe injuries occur because the birds'
legs are usually fitted with razor-sharp steel blades or with gaffs,
which resemble three-inch-long, curved ice picks. These artificial
spurs are designed to puncture and mutilate.

3. Are there other concerns?

Yes. Law enforcement raids across the country have revealed several
disturbing facets of this so-called sport. Gambling is the norm at
chicken fights. Thousands of dollars can exchange hands as spectators
and animal owners wager large sums on their favorite birds. The
owners of birds who win the most fights in a derby (a series of
chicken fights) may win tens of thousands of dollars of presumably
unreported income. Firearms and other weapons are common at
chicken fights, mainly because of the large amounts of cash present.
In addition, chicken fighting has been connected to other kinds of
violence—even homicide, according to newspaper reports.

Law enforcement officials have documented a strong connection
between chicken fighting and the distribution of illegal drugs. Drug
enforcement agents often learn about animal fighting operations as
a result of narcotics investigations.

The presence of young children at chicken fights is an especially disturbing
element. Exposure to such brutality can promote insensitivity toward
animal suffering and enthusiasm for violence.

4. Aren't these birds natural fighters?

While it is true that birds will fight over food, territory, or mates, such
fights are generally only to establish dominance within a group (the
pecking order) and seldom result in serious injury. This natural behavior
is quite different from what happens in staged chicken fights, where pairs
of birds, bred for maximum aggressiveness (and sometimes given
steroids or other drugs to make them more successful fighters)
are forced to fight until a winner is declared.

5. Isn't chicken fighting part of our heritage?

While it is true that chicken fighting has been practiced for
centuries in various countries, including the United States, "old" does
not necessarily mean right or even acceptable. At one time the
United States allowed slavery, lacked child abuse laws, and refused
women the vote.

6. Is there a trend toward treating the crime of chicken fighting more seriously?

Yes. It is illegal in almost every state, and most states
specifically prohibit anyone from being a spectator at a
chicken fight. Recently many states have increased the seriousness of a
chicken fighting charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. In addition, the
federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits the interstate transport of birds
for use in chicken fights to states with laws against chicken fighting. We
encourage prosecutors to indict those involved in chicken fighting not
only on illegal gaming charges but also for conspiracy to commit a
crime and illegal gambling.

7. What can I do to help stop chicken fighting?

If you live in one of the states or territories where
chicken fighting is still legal, please write to your legislators and urge them
to ban it. If you live in one of the states where it is still only a
misdemeanor, please write to your state legislators and urge them to
make it a felony offense. To find out how your state treats chicken fighting,
visit our page on State Chicken Fighting Laws.

We encourage you also to write letters to the media to increase public
awareness of the dangers of chicken fighting and to law enforcement
officials to urge them to take the issue seriously. We have provided
sample letters in this packet. You may want to display our chicken fighting
poster in your community; additional copies can be ordered from The HSUS.

If you suspect that chicken fighting is going on in your own neighborhood,
alert your local law enforcement agency and urge agency officials to
contact The HSUS for practical tools, advice, and assistance.

Copyright © 2004 The Humane Society of the United States.
All rights reserved

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