This should be one of the easiest issues facing the Kansas Legislature this year.
Cockfighting is illegal in every state; in 38 states it is a felony offense. Those 38 states include all four states that border Kansas, but not Kansas. It’s time to change that.
Cockfighting is a brutal and gruesome affair. Although fighting with roosters may not trigger the same kind of emotional response as fights involving dogs, it is a sadistic and cruel practice. It’s not just a couple of birds fighting; it’s roosters whose spurs have been armed with knives or sharp picks so that warped humans can send them into a pit and watch them battle to a bloody death. Oh, and don’t forget the betting. It’s even more fun if there’s money riding on the outcome.
Unfortunately, because Kansas is surrounded by states that punish cockfighting more severely, our state is primed to become a haven for breeders and cockfighting. Johnson County law enforcement officers investigated and raided a large cockfighting operation in Olathe just last summer. The defendant in that case was granted a one-year diversion last month.
Like any crime involving cruelty to animals, cockfighting attracts a certain group of people who have a general lack of respect for living things, perhaps including humans. Firearms and other weapons are commonly present at cockfights, along with sums of money that some people might find worth committing violence over. It’s a big-money activity, and to put a stop to it the penalties must be severe.
Last week, the Kansas Senate passed a bill that would make cockfighting — including training or raising birds or allowing cockfighting on an owner’s premises — punishable as a felony in Kansas. The bill now is headed to the Kansas House.
As we said, this should be an easy choice.