Proposed bill would toughen TX cockfighting laws - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Proposed bill would toughen TX cockfighting laws

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV)- An East Texas state lawmaker and the Humane Society of the United States are backing a bill that would strengthen laws against cockfighting.

The bill would close loopholes in the current law, enforcing punishment for everyone involved in the fights.

A Smith County investigator says if something doesn't change, these fights will continue to flourish in Texas.

In 1997, Smith County authorities busted one of the largest cockfights to ever happen in the county. At the time, Lt. Tony Dana was a patrolman and the first one to break-up the scene.

"I called for back up and I proceeded to drive down in the woods and I drove up on a rather large cockfight and people scattering everywhere," said Dana.

Since then few cockfighting reports have surfaced, but Dana says that doesn't mean the blood-sport isn't happening here in East Texas. He says fights will continue unless Texas passes a proposed bill that would close loopholes in the current laws.

"With the proposed legislation not only can we charge participants, who are there watching, but we can charge the individuals who own the animals," said Dana. "We can charge the property owner who's allowing the cockfight to take place on their property."

Right now in Texas, it's legal to watch a cockfight, raise birds to fight or own paraphernalia used to enhance the fight. Dana says those loopholes make investigating these cases especially frustrating.

"It's difficult to determine who owns the animals, who's causing the animal to fight the other animal," he said. "It's hard to bring criminal charges against them."

He says the bill, sponsored by Wayne Christian of Center, will serve as a tool to stop these cruel, underground fights.

"If you participate in these kind of events, if you use your property to conduct these kind of events, we're going to come after you," said Dana. "Not only are we going to come after you with criminal charges, but we're going to come after you and we're going to take your vehicle, your property, your money and we're going to take it and put it to use fighting crime instead of promoting crime."

A crime he says where everyone involved deserves to be punished.

Investigators also say cockfights promote other criminal activity like prostitution and drug trafficking. Even worse, they say children are often present at these fights.

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