OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill to lower the punishment for cockfighting failed in the House on Monday.

House Bill 2530 would reduce the cockfighting punishment from a felony to a misdemeanor. The bill failed by one vote.

This comes after animal advocates have spoken out regarding reducing the penalty for cockfighting.

“There’s one way to avoid going to prison for cockfighting or dogfighting or any other act of animal cruelty. Don’t do it,” said President of Animal Wellness Action Wayne Pacelle. “Don’t do it! That’s the easiest way to avoid getting nabbed for animal cruelty.”

HB 2530 was authored by Representative Justin Humphrey and Senator Lonnie Paxton and was initially introduced in January of 2023.

Rep. Humphrey has commented on the purpose of the bill.

“You can argue about whether it’s cruel,” he said. “You may win that argument but at the end of the day, do you think that that is worse than fentanyl?” he asked. “So, killing a chicken is going to be worse than having fentanyl 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. It is grotesquely wrong and that’s what I’m fighting.”

The House voted on HB 2530 on Monday and would’ve needed 51 votes to pass. The bill only received 50, causing the bill to fail.

Pacelle responded to the failed bill on Monday.

“Most lawmakers recognize that the pro-cockfighting bills circulating in the Legislature not only undermine the vote of the people but also embarrass Oklahoma by restoring a practice synonymous with backwardness and cruelty. Lawmakers should hold firm and close out this debate and let HB 2530 die, keeping Oklahoma’s most important anti-cruelty law fully intact.” said Pacelle.

Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed State Question 687 in 2002 that made it illegal to hold or encourage a cockfight, to be a spectator at a cockfight and to keep birds for fighting purposes.