The Herald Bulletin

April 1, 2013

Editorial: Animal fights can be signal of other abuse

— A 23-year-old Anderson was recently arrested on charges that he organized cockfights — the macabre blood sport where roosters go after one another inside a ring.

The suspect told police he made the roosters fight because he wanted a photo taken for a tattoo he desired.

In another incident, an Anderson Police Department animal control officer brought 24 chickens to the city’s Animal Protection League shelter in February. Police had been investigating the resident of a local house and found the chickens. The director of the shelter believed the chickens had been used for cockfighting.

Are these two connected? In the sense that a for-profit enterprise is taking place that endangers animals, then yes, the incidents are related. They are connected by man’s seemingly endless brutality to animals.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, obviously opposed to such displays, notes that the “sport” has existed for centuries, first believed to have started in Southeast Asia. Spreading quickly as people bet on the outcomes, the cruelty, though a felony in Indiana, goes on today.

Last month, police arrested two western Indiana men on animal fighting charges after a raid in which more than 100 roosters were found at two cockfighting operations. The raids came after there were signs of cockfighting.

The biggest sign: numerous animals inside pens with many inside the same cage. They are often kept in unsanitary conditions. But the real telltale sign is when chickens are being bred away from a regular farm operation.

Cockfights are troubling, too, because they are often attended by gang members or people associated with illegal drug use or firearms. Animal abuse has been linked to domestic violence.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that 85 percent of women and 63 percent of children, after arriving at domestic violence shelters, reported incidents of pet abuse. In 2001, the Chicago Police Department’s Domestic Violence Program took a look at the criminal histories of animal fighting and animal abuse arrestees and found that about 30 percent had domestic violence charges on their records.

If you think animal abuse is occurring in your neighborhood, alert the local law enforcement agency or the ASPCA for advice and assistance.

A cockfight spotlights the aggressiveness, greed and barbarism of humans toward animals. That’s why such fights are illegal in Indiana. That’s also why residents and police should remain aggressive in stemming this offensive “sport.”