By Eugenia Jones
Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), an international animal protection organization, recently released several emails and press releases in which the group adamantly declared their commitment to end cockfighting operations in Kentucky.
In addition, the non-profit organization stated it has sent a letter via email to the KY State Police, County Sheriffs where known cockfighting pits are active, and all KY state legislators. In the email, a list of ten alleged Kentucky cockfighting operations are identified including a McCreary County location on Low Gap Road in Pine Knot.
In the email, SHARK alleges Kentucky law enforcement-local police, county sheriffs, and state police-have previously been made aware of the ten locations and that little action has been taken against the operations.
SHARK continues by saying they have attempted to deal with law enforcement and others in government with courtesy and professionalism but in the future will begin working with Kentucky citizens and others.
SHARK President Steve Hindi was quoted in one of the organization’s public releases.
“It cannot be overstated how dangerous these cockfighting operations are,” Hindi said. “Cockfighting is a nexus for other criminal acts such as drug dealing, illegal firearms, and illegal gambling. This isn’t just about animal cruelty, it is about protecting Kentucky’s residents from the scourge of crime that cockfighting brings to communities. That’s why we are contacting every law enforcement agency and state and county legislator we can find. The time for turning a blind eye to these illegal fighting pits must stop.”
According to SHARK communication releases, last year at this time, SHARK had shut down all known cockfighting locations in Kentucky and provided exact latitude/longitude coordinates of the locations along with drone footage for some of the locations to sheriffs and Kentucky State Police. According to SHARK, the shut-downs held for a few months, until, inexplicably, the locations reopened. SHARK alleges the state police say the matter is under investigation while sheriffs have refused to respond.
SHARK noted the cockfighting season runs from the fall until early August, when the roosters molt.
“The 4th of July is critical to cockfighters; it’s their big weekend,” Hindi stated.
SHARK pledges they will be in Kentucky on the weekend of the 4th, patrolling cockfighting pits. In their public communication, the group challenged local sheriffs and state police to be at each cockfighting pit.
SHARK also issued a challenge for representatives of Governor Beshear and Attorney General Cameron to be present at the pits as well.
Cockfighting is a felony in most states; however, in Kentucky, it is classified as second degree cruelty to animals-a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Because of lax state laws, Kentucky is a prominent player in cockfighting activity that often draws participants and spectators from surrounding states and across the nation.
Many proponents of cockfighting consider the activity a sport or part of their heritage. Some argue gamecocks fight naturally; however, most natural fights are over food, territory, and mates or to establish dominance. Natural fights usually do not lead to death or severe injury. Organized cockfighting involves birds bred for aggression (and sometimes on steroids or other drugs) being forced to fight- usually to death-in pits with no escape. Sharp blades which inflict more injury to the fighting birds are often attached to the legs of the roosters. Last year, SHARK publicly released footage obtained by using a licensed drone of an alleged cockfighting operation in Pine Knot