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A “Fowl” Situation

Animal protection group posts video exposing alleged cockfighting in Kentucky.

By Eugenia Jones

Photo by Eugenia Jones Members of the nonprofit organization, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), were recently spotted as they investigated reports of organized rooster fights in McCreary County. The Illinois based animal protection group is dedicated to preventing animal abuse locally and worldwide. Having already taken a stand against rooster fighting by using drones to film suspected rooster farms.


McCreary County was one of three Kentucky counties highlighted in a video posted recently to Facebook by an Illinois based animal protection organization. The nonprofit organization, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), recently swept into rural Kentucky to infiltrate, film, and expose cockfighting as part of their nationwide “Crush Cockfighting” campaign. The video depicts alleged rooster fighting or rooster fighting activity at Shaker Hill in Butler County, Laurel Creek Game Club in Clay County, and Honest Abe’s in southeastern McCreary County. The investigation in Kentucky was undertaken with financial support from SHARK’s partner, the Humane Farming Association (HFA). The SHARK video, along with a WKRC-TV Cincinnati investigative report about SHARK’s work in Butler County, was posted to Facebook on July 6/7, 2020.
According to Steve Hindi, President of SHARK, members of the group began their investigation by initially going undercover using drones and hidden cameras on June 6, 2020. Surveillance of the three sites continued on subsequent weekends. Hindi said the group received tips about the alleged rooster fighting locations a few months ago after they exposed corrections officers involved with cockfighting in another part of the state.
SHARK captured footage on June 13 and June 20 at a location identified in the video as Honest Abe’s in McCreary County. The June 13 footage details SHARK calling Kentucky State Police Post 11 and requesting officers shut down alleged rooster fighting at the McCreary County venue. Footage obtained from a hidden camera later that same day and incorporated into the video depicts officers arriving near the location on June 13 and pulling over to the side of the road as thirty-three vehicles leave the vicinity. The posted video also includes SHARK footage from June 20 detailing live birds being carried into the alleged venue and dead birds being carried out of the facility. According to SHARK, KSP was notified again resulting in troopers arriving at the location but no significant action taken.
McCreary County Attorney Austin Price recently told “The Voice” that KSP has consulted with his office regarding clarification on the KY statutes and laws concerning rooster fighting. Based on a 1994 appellate case, Price said rooster fighting is considered illegal as a misdemeanor under KY’s animal cruelty statute.
When contacted about the released video, a KSP spokesperson referenced Kentucky Revised Statute 525.130 (Cruelty to animals in the second degree) as being applicable to cockfighting but noted the statute does not include ‘being a spectator or vendor at a rooster fight’. Therefore, spectator vehicles leaving a possible chicken fighting venue cannot be stopped or detained due to actions being listed as a crime. KSP also noted rooster fighting is classified as a Class A misdemeanor 2nd degree requiring officers to abide by KRS 4331.005 which specifies misdemeanors must be committed in the presence of peace officers if an arrest is made without a warrant.
Hindi said SHARK is determined to put an end to cockfighting. The group is equally determined to strengthen Kentucky anti cockfighting laws and see that current misdemeanor laws are enforced.
“It is cruel, violent, and despicable,” Hindi remarked. “Birds may naturally fight for dominance, but they will not naturally fight to kill. These birds are bred to be aggressive, and they are trained to fight. Weapons (sharp razor blades) are attached to their feet. The Bible says God keeps his eye on the sparrow-so what do you think He would say about cockfighting?”
In addition to concern for the welfare of animals involved in fighting, Hindi notes illegal gambling and other criminal activities are often associated with cockfighting. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, Hindi is also concerned about the lack of precautions taken during the mass gatherings of cockfighters and spectators who often travel to Kentucky from many different states. Hindi points to these gatherings (where social distancing is typically not practiced and masks are not worn) as having the potential to spark a major COVID-19 outbreak. Hindi’s fears were supported during a recent news report highlighting SHARK’s Butler County investigation which aired on WKRC TV Cincinnati. The report emphasized health concerns including the potential for outbreaks of COVID-19 and other types of bird flu and disease in connection with cockfighting events.
According to the posted video, SHARK was successful in shutting down all three of the highlighted KY venues where weekly cockfighting events were allegedly being held. Hindi and other members of the SHARK team are determined things will stay that way.
“Probably the most disturbing thing for me is the police know what is going on and don’t do anything about it,” Hindi alleged. “We managed to get these three operations shut down through our surveillance, and we hope they don’t start back up. However, if we need to come back to Kentucky, we will. We, at SHARK, don’t cut and run. We don’t like to deal with animal abusers, but we are forced to do it. We will continue to monitor activity. Our goals are to shut down cockfighting and strengthen the KY laws dealing with it. We also want law enforcement to deal with the issue.”
The posted video ends with a plea for individuals to contact KY Governor Andy Beshear to strengthen KY’s anti-cockfighting laws and to investigate the enforcement of these laws. The video also encourages individuals with knowledge of cockfighting locations to provide that information to SHARK.

The SHARK video and WKRC TV Cincinnati news report can be viewed on the SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) Facebook page. Caution is advised as some of the footage may be disturbing. SHARK plans to post more videos of their Kentucky investigation (including McCreary County) in the near future.

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