Cockfights have no place here

Recent cockfighting busts in Youngstown, Ohio, and one just last weekend in Lynn Grove, Kentucky, demonstrate that cockfighting is happening in these communities and the only way to stop it in Ohio is for lawmakers to pass HB 215 to make cockfighting a felony.

For any law to be effective, the consequences of criminal behavior must be greater than the profit. Otherwise, crime really does pay. The penalty for cockfighting in Ohio is among the weakest in the nation. The people arrested in Youngstown face maximum penalties of a fine of up to $250 and 30 days in jail. But at cockfights, tens of thousands of dollars change hands, so only felony-level penalties will truly deter participants.

A weak law has made Ohio a safe haven for cockfighters — they even have a trade group, the Ohio Gamefowl Breeders Association, and a political action committee. Their representatives regularly lobby against animal cruelty bills.

Ohioans agree that cockfighting is repugnant and has no place in the state. It’s time for legislators to pass HB 215 and pull up the welcome mat for cockfighters.

Leighann Lassiter

Director of animal cruelty policy

The Humane Society of the United States