Dispute in Louisiana Over State vs. Local Laws on Cockfighting

Louisiana’s Caddo parish is at the center of a dispute between supporters and opponents of cockfighting.

Louisiana is one of only two states where cockfighting is still explicitly legal. In 1987, however, Caddo approved a local animal cruelty law that current Sheriff Steve Prator interprets as outlawing cockfighting in the parish.

Prator told The Shreveport Times that his office received numerous complaints about cockfights in the rural parish. He investigated the complaints and had his deputies shut down two clubs where cockfights were being held.

A lawyer representing the owners of those two cockfighting establishments responded with a letter asserting that the sheriff had engaged in the “unconstitutional deprivation of property rights” by shutting down a legal business enterprise in Louisiana.

Cockfighting supporters in the state argue that the activity provides jobs for rural areas of Louisiana and does not constitute animal cruelty. Louisiana game breeder Grover Elrod told The Shreveport Times,

Animal rights activists have taken this too far. If you had a herd of cattle and someone came in and said you can’t slaughter that cow to eat because it’s cruel, what would you do? These are wild fowl, they’re not chickens. Just because they crow and lay eggs and cackle doesn’t mean they’re a chicken. They’re wild birds, and fighting is all they know, all they’re good for and that’s all they’ll ever do. That’s what people can’t seem to grasp.

On the other side of the issue, the Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle congratulated the sheriff for taking action against the cockfighting pits. Pacelle told The Shreveport Times,

We consider cockfighting a barbaric and gruesome activity that should be outlawed in every jurisdiction in the United States. We’re delighted that Caddo Parish has a prohibition on this inhumane activity, and we strongly support the sheriff’s action to support the existing law.

Source:

Conflict brews over cockfighting. Don Walker, The Shreveport Times, January 10, 2004.

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