TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

April 7, 2014

Bevin ruffles feathers with appearance at cockfighting rally

Humane Society calls for his withdrawal from Senate race

CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer

Matt Bevin’s appearance at Saturday’s cockfighting rally at The Corbin Arena led the Humane Society of the United States to call for his withdrawal from  the May Senate race.

According to the Humane Society Legislative Fund President Michael Markarian, Bevin “showed appalling judgement” in choosing to appear before the cockfighters, whom Markarian called “lawbreakers and perpetrators of unspeakable animal cruelty.”

According to Markarian, the Humane Society Legislative Fund wants Bevin to withdraw from the Senate race, and stated that Bevin “brought discredit upon the state of Kentucky.” Markarian said it was a “terrible embarrassment” for a politician to openly associate with cockfighters.

Markarian praised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his support of the animal fighting spectatorship amendment that was present in the final 2014 Farm Bill.

The farm bill, which was passed in February, made attending a cockfight a felony and also made it a felony to take a child to a cockfight.

Markarian noted the anti-animal fighting legislation had bipartisan support, as well as the support of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Markarian cites Kentucky as a state that has weak penalties for cockfighting, which makes it a place sought out by those who choose to fight chickens. According to his blog “Animals and Politics,” “they hope they can get away with a slap on the wrist.”

According to Humane Society of the United States Director of Animal Cruelty Policy John Goodwin, cockfighting continues because of the monetary gain involved in the fights. Tens of thousands of dollars can change hands during a fight, which Goodwin said comes due to illegal gambling.

“Cockfighting isn’t about heritage,” he said. “As long as the financial gains outweigh the legal consequences, it will persist.”

The lack of legislation in Kentucky against cockfighting is the reason why rallies like the one that took place Saturday occur, Goodwin stated.

According to the Humane Society website, cockfighting is felony in 41 states. In Kentucky, it’s a misdemeanor.

In states like Kentucky with lax cockfighting laws cockfighters are able to “openly break the law” and Goodwin believes that enforcing the law is the most important step to combating a culture that sees cockfighting as acceptable.

“We don’t want to support people who believe breaking the law is OK,” Goodwin said.

A rally to promote the legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky was held March 29 and included speaker Kentucky Representative Richard Henderson (D-District 74). According to Director of the American Gamefowl Defense Network David Devereaux, gamecocks have a better life and live longer than chickens used in commercial farming. Cockfighters see the sport as an important part of their heritage, and believe that gamecocks are natural fighters.

Bevin’s campaign office hadn’t return calls as of deadline Friday.

A schedule released by Bevin’s campaign descriptor the cockfighting rally as a “state’s rights rally.”

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