It’s something many have never even heard of: pigeon racing.
Here in Oklahoma, it’s a big business for the Mardis family.
Steve Mardis said he grew up raising pigeons and it has become a part of who he is.
“I will always have pigeons in my backyard until the day, I die,” said Steve.
Steve says they raise race pigeons and sell them internationally for a living.
Recently P.E.T.A. offered evidence to the state alleging Richard Mardis and his family profited from heading up an illegal gambling ring here in the Oklahoma.
The P.E.T.A official we spoke with by phone Monday afternoon was unable to back up any of those claims.
Richard’s daughter Jennifer says P.E.T.A. is just trying to ruffle the family’s feathers.
They say before the gambling allegations came up, P.E.T.A. made allegations that the birds were mistreated.
Jennifer said, “These birds are treated so well. Accusations that my father would mistreat an animal or gamble is so ludicrous.”
Now Richard is fighting the felony commercial gambling charge that was filed against him.
His son Steve who recently bought the business from him says raising pigeons is his passion in life. He believes P.E.T.A. is trying to rob him of that.
“I don`t know what it stems from or what they want from us, other than to shut the sport down and that would be a huge injustice” said Steve.