- Yes On 687
Why should cockfighting be banned?
Breeding birds for aggressive traits, training them to fight, strapping
knives or ice-pick-like gaffs to their legs, and placing them in a pit
to fight to injury or death is the very definition of animal cruelty.
If it is wrong to fight dogs for amusement, it is also wrong to fight
Do they really strap knives or gaffs to their legs?
Yes. The fight is defined by the style of weapon strapped to the combatants'
legs, such as a "short-knife" fight, a "long-knife"
fight, or a "gaff fight." Cockfighters shave down or cut off
the natural spur on the birds' legs and then strap on the knives before
Why are the knives and gaffs used?
They enhance the bloodletting, making the fight more entertaining for
people who get a kick out of seeing animals hack one another to death.
What's more, the weapons make the fights end more quickly; many cockfighting
fans would be bored if the fights went on for hours. This also allows
pit owners to benefit from greater numbers of roosters entered in cockfight
events, which often last three days. On "derby" days, over one
thousand roosters are killed or maimed at a single location.
Has any other state passed an initiative to ban cockfighting?
Yes, the citizens of Arizona and Missouri - after seeing that state legislators
refused to ban cockfights - gathered signatures to place measures on their
statewide ballots and then overwhelmingly approved the bans. The vast
majority of citizens - urban and rural, Democrat and Republican, white
and black - voted in favor of the cockfighting bans.
Is animal fighting a felony in any other state?
It is a felony to fight dogs in 45 states, and it is a felony to fight
roosters in 26 states. Many of the remaining states are now considering
legislation to upgrade penalties for animal fighting.
Isn't a felony a pretty stiff penalty?
Yes, it is a tough penalty, but a necessary one to combat this indefensible
conduct. Misdemeanor penalties that result in a small fine provide no
meaningful deterrent to cockfighters, who simply consider the fines that
result from misdemeanor convictions to be a cost of doing business. Individuals
can avoid felony penalties by not fighting the birds - it's that simple.
Is it a felony to be a spectator at a cockfight?
No, SQ 687 makes it a misdemeanor to attend a cockfight. The differential
penalties for fighting the birds and watching the fights reflects the
thinking that attending the fights is wrong, but not as serious an offense
as conducting or facilitating the fights themselves.
Is it a felony to fight dogs in Oklahoma?
Yes it is, and it helps deter dogfighting. What's more, the law banning
dogfighting has a major forfeiture provision, allowing the confiscation
of property used in the commission of a dogfighting crime.
How did the anti-cockfighting measure get on the ballot?
Approximately 100,000 citizens from all parts of the state signed petitions
to place the measure on the ballot. Cockfighters took action in court
in a desperate attempt to keep the measure off the ballot, but the Oklahoma
Supreme Court ruled unanimously in November 2001 that the petition met
all of the qualifications for ballot placement.
Why hasn't the Legislature banned cockfights?
Cockfighters are politically active, and they have convinced a small number
of legislators to block any anti-cockfighting legislation.
Isn't cockfighting natural?
The wild birds related to today's modern gamecock did not fight to the
death in their natural environments. Males sometimes engage in fights
to determine their place in the social order, called a pecking order.
Rarely if ever do the encounters between roosters end in injury or death.
Of course, these birds simply have their natural spurs as a weapons, not
sharpened knives or gaffs. Nor are the wild birds dosed with stimulants
to heighten their aggression. In natural territorial battles, the vanquished
rooster is allowed to leave or submit to the authority of the stronger
bird. The "handlers" at cockfights force their birds to fight
to the death or major injury.
Are birds really drugged for fights?
Cockfighters' journals - such as The Gamecock, The Feather Warrior, and
Grit & Steel -- are full of ads for stimulants, hormones, and blood-clotting
drugs. Strychnine is one of the most popular stimulants. It and other
drugs give birds a "boost" despite multiple puncture wounds
or knife wounds.
Is cockfighting a big industry in Oklahoma?
There are thousands of birds killed at cockfights, but it's hardly a significant
source of economic activity. Money changes hands in bets on birds, but
that simply transfers money between individuals. The state obviously gets
no share of the dollars illegally wagered at cockfights.
Are children allowed to attend cockfights?
Each pit makes its own rules, but it is very common to have children attend
cockfights. At some pits, children under 12 pay no admission fee. Thus,
they are exposed to blatant animal cruelty, gambling, and other inappropriate
conduct that occurs at cockfights. There is a strong link established
between acts of cruelty to animals and violence to people, and it is very
dangerous for children to see that adults sanction this sort of cruelty
and consider it acceptable. One Oklahoma newspaper documented children
actively betting substantial sums of money out in the open at a cockfight.
Is cockfighting legal anywhere else?
Cockfighting is illegal in 47 states; most states banned cockfighting
in the 19th century. It is legal only in Louisiana, certain counties in
New Mexico, and in Oklahoma. Cockfighting had been illegal in Oklahoma
until 1963, when a state judge declared that chickens were not covered
under the anti-animal fighting statute that had been adopted around the
time of statehood.
What does the veterinary community have to say about
The American Veterinary Medical Association strongly opposes cockfighting
and supports laws to make cockfighting a felony.
Where in Oklahoma are the cockfights?
Cockfighters admit to 42 legal pits throughout the state, mainly on the
borders to that cockfighters from other states can travel and fight their
birds. Some of the pits are in Arnett, Calvin, Kellyville, Kingston, Muldrow,
Sallisaw, Thackerville, and Wapanucka.
Is there illegal gambling at cockfights?
Yes, gambling is commonplace at cockfights, even though many cockfighting
pits place "no gambling" signs in the pits and seating areas.
Without gambling, there would hardly be a reason to hold cockfights.