OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Weeks after an animal advocacy group labeled Oklahoma the “Cockfighting Capital” of the U.S., two bills to reduce the punishment for cockfighting is making it’s way through the capitol.
“Cockfighting is inhumane, barbaric,” said Wayne Pacelle, President of Animal Wellness Action Group.
“This is an event that people like. I’m for freedoms,” said Representative J.J. Humphrey, R-Lane.
In Oklahoma, it’s a felony to buy, sell, deliver, or possess any bird for cockfighting. It is also a federal felony.
During the fights, three to five birds, with knives or small weapons attached to them, are dropped into a pit. The last one alive wins.
“It’s a blood sport. It is cruelty to animals,” said Drew Edmondson, former Oklahoma Attorney General.
Pacelle said cockfighting brings other crimes, like prostitution, drugs, and guns, along with the fighting.
A couple of weeks ago, the Animal Wellness Action Group called Oklahoma the “Cockfighting Capital” of the United States. They also claim to have uncovered a massive fighting operation.
“These people are knowingly breaking the law and now they are using their ill gotten gains to lobby to decriminalize cockfighting in Oklahoma,” said Wayne Pacelle.
Rep. Humphrey said that’s not true.
“If they could show me three cases connected with cockfighting, then I’ll back up a little bit,” said Humphrey. “But guess what? They can’t because there is none. That’s because these guys are big fat liars.”
Monday, Senator Lonnie Paxton’s SB 1006 passed in Committee. It would allow voters in counties to vote to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor.
Representative Humphrey’s bill, HB2530, would also make the crime a misdemeanor. He said his background is in criminal justice reform and it’s all about fairness.
“You can argue about whether it’s cruel,” said Humphrey. “You may win that argument, but at the end of the day, do you think that that is worse than fentanyl? So, killing a chicken is going to be worse than having fentanyl and all that killed 800 Oklahomans and that this one should be ten years in the penitentiary and this one should be a misdemeanor? That is not fairness in sentencing.”
Humphrey also said he has never been to a fight.
“Just because I haven’t been to one, doesn’t mean that I don’t know lots of people who raise them,” said Humphrey.
Humphrey said he may need to go to a fight if he’s going to carry the bill, however he has been busy.
Senator Paxton’s schedule was too full to fit News 4 in for comment.