Animal protection organisations are calling for strengthening the legislation that bans cockfighting in Alabama, US, amid the weakness of the current ban. In Alabama, cockfighting is a misdemeanour with only up to a $50 penalty.

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, and all US territories, but the last state to ban it was Louisiana in 2008. In 2018, the U.S. Congress approved a ban on cockfighting which included Puerto Rico, the last US territory that had legal cockfights. The problem is, though, that in each state the laws that ban it are different, and Alabama has one of the weakest.

Animal Wellness Action and the Center for Humane Economy have called on Gov. Kay Ivey to make organising cockfighting a felony in Alabama, as already is in 42 states, and is a federal felony. These organisations have released reports connecting cockfighting with the spread of diseases, such as bird flu and Newcastle disease. Wayne Pacelle, president and founder of Animal Wellness Action, said “This is a barbaric activity.” 

In cockfighting, two specially bred birds (known as gamecocks) are placed in an enclosure (called a cockpit) to fight, for the primary purposes of gambling and entertainment. A cockfight, which can last anywhere from several minutes to more than half an hour, usually results in the death of one of the birds (sometimes both).   

Cockfighting is still legal in several countries. For instance, in France, Spain, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Mexico (in most states), Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Philippines, Madagascar, Indonesia, Thailand, and others. Recently, an initiative of the Peruvian political group Podemos Perú proposed to declare bullfighting and cockfighting an “art” of “national interest,” and therefore protecting it from future attempts to ban these cruel activities in the country. Fortunately, cockfighting is now illegal in most of Europe and North America.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.