Officials from Yakima County in the US state of Washington allegedly killed 64 confiscated roosters from the cockfighting fraternity who were set to be delivered to a farm animal sanctuary in Pierce County.  

Kate Tsyrklevich, of Heartwood Haven, the sanctuary in question, said to KIRO 7, “It made no sense of why something like this would happen…They didn’t want to wait for our rescue to get there because it would take us about 3 hours to drive there… Not only that these birds are not dangerous, but it is also possible to rescue them… We were supposed to have 100 roosters crowing here. And it’s quiet.”

In April this year, Heartwood Haven took in over 50 roosters and chickens rescued from a major cockfighting ring bust. According to Tsyrklevich, cockfighting in Washington is a big problem as it continues to happen even though it is illegal. Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all US territories, and is considered a felony in 39 states. Louisiana was the last state to ban cockfighting in 2008. 

Enforcement of cockfighting bans in the US remains weak. Last year, animal protection organisations called for strengthening the legislation that bans cockfighting in Alabama, amid the weakness of the current ban. In Alabama, cockfighting is a misdemeanour with only up to a $50 penalty.

In other states, the cockfighting fraternity is still trying to remove the ban. In November last year, news circulated about the Governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, having recorded a video that played at a rally which raised concerns due to his apparent support of cockfighting. In the video, he supported the cockfighting community and signalled he’d support their efforts in the upcoming legislative session.

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’.