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Cockfighting Legal States 2024

Cockfighting Legal States 2024

There are currently no states in the US in which cockfighting is legal. All US states have individual laws that prohibit cockfighting. The final state in the country to make cockfighting illegal was the state of Louisiana, which banned the practice in 2007 (effective Aug. 2008). Cockfighting is also outlawed in Washington DC. Moreover, cockfighting is illegal at a federal level in the United States and all US territories. The 1966 Animal Welfare Act made it a federal crime to conduct staged animal fights, the 2014 farm bill made it a crime to attend or bring an underaged child to such events, and the Agriculture Improvement Act (alternately known as the 2018 Farm Bill) strengthened the guidelines and penalties and extended the ban to US territories such as American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

Is Cockfighting Allowed on U.S. Soil?

Despite the federal ban on cockfighting, a few territories continue to allow cock fighting within their borders. In Puerto Rico, for example, cockfighting was an important industry estimated in 2019 to employ 27,000 people and contribute $18 million USD annually to the Puerto Rican economy. The Puerto Rican government attempted to have the US Supreme Court overturn the ban in 2021, but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Therefore, the ban still officially exists, though it may not be strictly enforced everywhere in Puerto Rico.

Cockfighting is also allowed, at least unofficially, in the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Of course, illicit underground cockfighting rings likely exist in many US states as well.

Why Is Cockfighting Illegal in the United States?

The main reason cockfighting was outlawed in the United States is that it is generally classified as animal cruelty. In cockfighting, roosters are forced to fight against one another, usually to the death. It is difficult to define this scenario as anything other than wanton disregard for the animals' welfare. Cockfighting arenas are also known to be associated with additional crimes, including illegal gambling, drug dealing, gang activity, and assault and battery.

What is the Penalty for Cockfighting in the United States?

The penalty for cockfighting in the United States can vary significantly depending on where the offense takes place and the degree to which a person is involved in the act, and can range from simple fines to jail time. Additional variables include the person's prior criminal record, the number of people involved, the number of animals involved, and the location of the cockfight. That said, possible federal penalties include the following:

  • One year imprisonment for attending a fight
  • Three years imprisonment for bringing a child under 16 years of age to a fight
  • Five years imprisonment for offenses involving the commerce of instruments used in cockfighting

Cockfighting Legal States 2024

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