Animal cruelty and the problem of cockfighting (video)

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This week has seen a lively discussion about wholesale commercial dog breeding facility planned for Gorham, NY. It’s been interesting to hear from both sides and to see the passion that people have for the humane treatment of dogs.

Here’s a story from the Humane Society of the United States that should make you think beyond puppies: cockfighting.

When animal lovers think of blood sport in the animal world, they usually think of pit bulls and Michael Vick. But Dr. Oran Smith, the executive director of Palmetto Family, and Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics and religious liberty commission, have released a video citing scripture and Biblical principles in an effort to expose the cruelty of cockfighting as well as the larger societal effects of the illegal blood sport.

I confess that for a second, I thought … a chicken? But just for a second. Because God doesn’t look down and say one animal is more important than the other. If God’s eye is on the sparrow, it’s equally on the pit bull and the rooster. And when you learn just a little about cockfighting, you can see that the issue of inhumane treatment of animals is the same regardless of what animal is being abused.

Male cocks naturally aggresive to each other, and gamecocks are specially bred for stamina and endurance. They’re often also outfitted with cockspurs, or leather bracelets with knife-like spikes designed to maximize injuries to the opponent. They’re then put into a pit, where they fight to the death for gambling and the entertainment of spectators.

If this was a puppy, people would be up in arms. But because it’s a chicken, it’s not as easy to rally the troops, so to speak. That’s why it’s important for Christians to understand that cruelty, abuse and inhumane treatment of any animal needs to be faced with the same concern as the fight against puppy mills.

Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states (as well as Brazil, Australia and most of Europe). It’s a felony charge in 39 states but remains a misdemeanor in 11 states. And in those places a midemeanor is nothing, because cockfighting can be a lucrative crime, where gambling winnings offset even the maximum misdemeanor fines.

In other words, there’s no incentive to stop. Get caught, pay a small fine, move on to the next fight.

As a Christian who honors God’s creation and respects all life, take some time to learn more about cockfighting and how you can help combat this cruel sport on the Humane Society of the United States’ website.  Anyone with information about animal fighting criminals is asked to call 877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787). Tipsters’ identities will be protected. 

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