On behalf of the state’s egg, chicken, and turkey farmers, the Ohio Poultry Association applauds The Blade for your editorial support of legislation to strengthen Ohio’s cockfighting laws (“Cruelty, for fun and profit,” editorial, May 26).
Cockfighters come to Ohio because we have one of the weakest cockfighting laws in the nation. Those who were charged in the recent cockfighting raid in Fulton County face at most a fourth-degree misdemeanor and a $250 fine.
On the other hand, 41 states — including all the Great Lakes states that surround Ohio — punish cockfighting as a felony.
Our members are committed to ensuring animal health and well-being. Birds used for cockfighting are forced to fight to the death with metal weapons attached to their legs. There is no reason to subject birds to this type of senseless cruelty.
Birds used for cockfighting also can be a significant risk to our food supply. A 2003 outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease occurred in commercial poultry flocks in southern California.
Nearly $200 million was spent eradicating the disease as it spread. The U.S. Department of Agriculture later determined that the disease was spread throughout southern California by the transport of birds for cockfighting.
Ohio needs a penalty for cockfighting that keeps the criminals and their birds out of our state. Ohio’s lawmakers should take steps to make it happen.
Animal care is a top priority of our farmers. Cockfighting clearly is counter to that position.
Our farmers and our organization have advocated and will continue to support efforts in the General Assembly to strengthen the state’s cockfighting penalties.
Executive Vice President
Ohio Poultry Association