Monday, April 14, 2008

Pending Bill Would Make Cockfighting a Felony in Tennessee

Posted By on Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Tennessee is one of only 13 states with misdemeanor penalties for cockfighting, but a bill pending in both the state Senate and House of Representatives would elevate the crime to felony status.

Popular in rural parts of the state, including small towns in West Tennessee, cockfights pit roosters against one another, often fighting to the death. The animals wear spurs or knives strapped to their feet and spectators gamble on roosters' fates. Some large operations even run concession stands and sell souvenir T-shirts.

Last week, the bill successfully passed through both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Shelby County Senate committee members Beverly Marrero, Paul Stanley, Mark Norris, and Jim Kyle voted in favor of felony penalties.

"It's a very cruel thing to do. I see no value in making this permissible," said Stanley.

John Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States said the low penalties in Tennessee often attract cockfighters from surrounding states.

"Most states bordering East Tennessee, including Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, punish cockfighting as a felony," said Goodwin. "Tennessee is fast becoming a refuge for people who want to commit this crime without fear of meaningful prosecution."

The bill would also strengthen penalties for spectating at any animal fight, including dogfights. If passed, simply watching a fight would be punishable with a Class A misdemeanor.

The bill is currently in the Finance Ways and Means Committees in both the House and the Senate. Those committee votes are expected some time next week.

-- Bianca Phillips

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Comments (27)

Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

© 1996-2020

Contemporary Media
65 Union, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation