By Eugenia Jones
Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), an international animal protection organization, recently distributed a press release and audio sound bite indicating KY State Police responded to their tip concerning alleged illegal cockfighting at a site supposedly known as Bald Rock Pit in Laurel County on Saturday, July 10. Members of SHARK and the Humane Farming Association (HFA) provided the tip to KY State Police prior to law enforcement response.
According to the SHARK press release and audio sound bite, law enforcement apparently issued ten citations to individuals at the Laurel County location.
In Kentucky, cockfighting is a cruelty to animals/ 2nd degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Additional charges relating to gambling or other illegal activity may be cited if applicable at the time of cockfighting. Because of lax state laws, Kentucky is a prominent player in cockfighting activity often drawing participants and spectators from surrounding states and across the nation.
At the federal level, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed into law in 1966. It is the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other laws, policies, and guidelines may include additional species coverage or specifications for animal care and use, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard. The Act is enforced by USDA, APHIS, and Animal Care.
SHARK and HFA have been controversial during the last year as they have publicly spotlighted alleged cockfighting locations and activity throughout Kentucky-including one location in McCreary County. Additionally, members of the two non-profit animal protection groups have publicly complained about what they perceive as a lack of action taken by Kentucky law enforcement against cockfighting activity.
Prior to the KY State Police’s response to their complaint in Laurel County on July 10, members of SHARK publicly pledged to patrol alleged cockfighting pits statewide (including sites in McCreary and Laurel Counties) during the 4th of July weekend. According to a SHARK spokesperson, the alleged cockfighting pit locations patrolled by the group during the 4th of July holiday remained quiet.
The Voice has not been able to independantly verify the information SHARK released.