Cockfighting Set to be Banned in Kansas

The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas legislature has approved a bill that will explicitly outlaw cockfighting in Kansas. The new law will make cockfighting a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A spokeswoman for Kansas Gov. Bill Graves said that the governor plans to sign the bill into law.

The bill passed overwhelmingly 112-10 in the Kansas state House and 36-4 in the Senate.

The new law is aimed at shoring up Kansas’ animal cruelty laws. According to the Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle, Kansas was one of six states that do not explicitly ban cockfighting in their legal codes.

Instead, cockfighting was prosecuted in Kansas as a violation of animal cruelty laws which, according to the new law’s supporters, made them difficult cases to prosecute.


Lawmakers pass cockfighting ban. Mike Berry, The Wichita Eagle, May 14, 2002.

Cloning Cats

Researchers at Texas A & M were in the news this week when word leaked that they managed to successfully clone a cat. A number of research efforts are underway to clone cats and dogs, but this was the first such success.

Much of the media coverage focused on the possibility of cloning pets. The Canadian Press quoted Texas A & M researcher Duane Kraemer as claiming that some people have already stored cells from their departed pets in the hope that cloning might one day bring back copies of said pets.

A more important possibility is the role that cloned cats may play in medical research. This possibility brought condemnation from the Humane Society of the United StatesWayne Pacelle who described the announcement as “unfortunate news” and told the Canadian Press that researchers should move away from using animals in medical research.

But research in cats has provided important information about a variety of issues related to human physiology, especially about vision. The way cats process vision is very similar to the processes in human beings. In fact, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel won the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their research in cats and monkeys that completely revolutionized understanding of how vision is processed.

Pacelle and animal rights activists are free to maintain that advances in human knowledge thanks to animal research are “unfortunate,” but they will have to excuse the rest of us for finding this to be incredibly exciting news.


Texas researchers announce successful cloning of a cat; dogs are next. Malcolm Ritter, Canadian Press, February 15, 2002.

More than nine lives for this cat. Antonio Regalado, The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2002.

HSUS vs. the First Amendment

One of the few things I agree with the Humane Society of the United States about is that cockfighting is cruel and should be outlawed. Unfortunately, as they typically do, even in this matter the HSUS resorts to tactics that are simply wrong and ultimately leave the supporters of cockfighting look like the victims (leave it to HSUS to make cock fighters look sympathetic).

In this case the HSUS actually wants the editors of two Arkansas-based cockfighting magazines, The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock to be prosecuted for doing nothing more than publishing their respective magazines.

HSUS’ Wayne Pacelle told the Associated Press that the two magazines should be prosecuted under a provision of the Animal Welfare Act which makes it illegal to use the mail to promote “an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the limits of the States of the United States.”

If that is indeed what the Animal Welfare Act says then it is almost certainly unconstitutional given that cockfighting is still legal in Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico. In fact, I suspect the statute would be ruled unconstitutional even if it were promoting cockfights in states where the practice is illegal (Pacelle might want to brush up on his First Amendment law — if promoting illegal acts could be outlawed, many animal rights activists would wind up in jail).

Like the attempted ban on transporting chickens across state lines, this is just another example of HSUS and others being unable to muster enough support to outlaw cockfighting in the three states that still allow the practice. With that avenue cut off, HSUS attempts to limit the rights of people outside those states who are not directly involved in cockfighting but cover it in their magazines or sell supplies to those who are involved in cockfighting.


Humane Society trying to shut down Arkansas cockfighting magazines. The Associated Press, August 8, 2001.