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PROHIBITION OF INTERSTATE MOVEMENT OF LIVE BIRDS FOR ANIMAL FIGHTING
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 13, 2000
Serial No. 10659
Printed for the use of the Committee on Agriculture
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COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
LARRY COMBEST, Texas, Chairman
BILL BARRETT, Nebraska,
JOHN A. BOEHNER, Ohio
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
NICK SMITH, Michigan
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
KEN CALVERT, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCGIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
BOB RILEY, Alabama
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
DOUG OSE, California
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ERNIE FLETCHER, Kentucky
CHARLES W. STENHOLM, Texas,
Ranking Minority Member
GARY A. CONDIT, California
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina
DAVID MINGE, Minnesota
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
EARL POMEROY, North Dakota
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
SANFORD D. BISHOP, Jr., Georgia
BENNIE G. THOMPSON, Mississippi
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRISTOPHER JOHN, Louisiana
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
DAVID D. PHELPS, Illinois
KEN LUCAS, Kentucky
MIKE THOMPSON, California
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
JOE BACA, California
WILLIAM E. O'CONNER, JR., Staff Director
LANCE KOTSCHWAR, Chief Counsel
STEPHEN HATERIUS, Minority Staff Director
KEITH WILLIAMS, Communications Director
C O N T E N T S
H.R. 1275, to amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the interstate movement of live birds for the purpose of having the birds participate in animal fighting.
Combest, Hon. Larry, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, opening statement
John, Hon. Christopher, a Representative in Congress from the State of Louisiana, opening statement
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Peterson, Hon. Collin C., a Representative in Congress from the State of Minnesota, opening statement
Smith, Hon. Nick, a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, opening statement
Stabenow, Hon. Debbie, a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, prepared statement
Stenholm, Hon. Charles W., a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, opening statement
Underwood, Hon. Robert A., a Delegate in Congress from the Territory of Guam, submitted statement
Agler, McClelland, chairman, legislative committee, American Poultry Association
Berry, Charles R., director, president, Oklahoma Animal Husbandry Coalition
Pacelle, Wayne, senior vice-president, communications and government affairs, the Humane Society of the United States
Perdue, Don C., past president, United Gamefowl Breeders Association, Inc.
Schlueter, Sherry, criminal investigations section supervisor, Special Victims and Family Crimes Section, Broward County Sheriff's Department, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement
Glickman, Hon. Dan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, letter of May 27, 1999 to Chairman Combest
Lormand, Roland J., chairman, American Animal Husbandry Coalition Political Action Committee
PROHIBITION OF INTERSTATE MOVEMENT OF LIVE BIRDS FOR ANIMAL FIGHTING
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2000
House of Representatives,
Committee on Agriculture
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in room 1300 of the Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Larry Combest (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Barrett, Ewing, Smith, Everett, Lucas of Oklahoma, Jenkins, Cooksey, Gutknecht, Riley, Simpson, Stenholm, Peterson, Hilliard, Holden, Berry, Stabenow, Etheridge, John, Boswell, Phelps, Lucas of Kentucky, Thompson of California, and Baca.
Staff present: William E. O'Conner, Jr., staff director; Tom Sell, Pete Thompson, John Goldberg, Brent Gattis, Callista Gingrich, Wanda Worsham, clerk; Andy Johnson, and Elizabeth Parker.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY COMBEST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Before I go to opening statements, I want to officially introduce to the committee members and to our guests our newest addition on the committee. Our newest addition is Angus. Angus a registered beagle. He is a part of the Beagle Brigade. The Beagle Brigade works for USDA. They work in airports in which they are used to detect food or plants that are being brought in that have not been claimed or that are prohibited. This obviously through APHIS, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is the agency that helps to keep out pests and diseases that might be coming in on plants or in animal products that are otherwise not noted.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unbeknownst to us, until an incident occured, there was nothing that would have prevented an individual from harming one of these animals. Recently a USDA beagle was kicked by a passenger of an airplane and was injured so severely that it had to be retired from service. And I might say that Barney is doing well now. But in response to this incident, when we passed the Crop Insurance Conference Report last year, the committee added language that would provide for a $10,000 civil fine for anyone who harms one of these working animals.
And as a token, the USDA wanted to give me a beagle. We made Angus a part of the committee. Dr. Goldberg is going to be taking care of Angus in the evenings and on the weekends. The remainder of the time, Angus will be living in the committee. We have ordered a nameplate for Angus. Angus only came Monday. Angus is a year-and-a-half old and did not make the grade because liked to get in suitcases and sleep and would also, when he was approached, would roll over on his back for you to rub his tummy. So Angus didn't make it, but Angus is with us. He is actually the committee dog and I wanted to introduce him to you this morning our newest addition to the committee, Angus the Beagle.
Today's hearing is to receive testimony and question witnesses regarding H.R. 1275, legislation that would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the interstate movement of live birds with the intent of having the birds participate in fighting adventures. H.R. 1275 has generated a considerable degree of interest. A number of my own constituents have taken the time to visit with me about this measure. I know from discussions with my colleagues that other Members have heard from home, both favorably and unfavorably, about H.R. 1275.
The Senate Agriculture Committee reported out a companion bill, S. 345, on March 2, and our own Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture reported the measure on April 13. It seems to me that before making any decisions about further legislative action, it might be helpful to hear from interested parties about the potential effects of the bill. With this in mind, I look forward to today's testimony. I would recognize Mr. Stenholm.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES W. STENHOLM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. STENHOLM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to commend you for holding this hearing on H.R. 1275. This is a controversial piece of legislation that has elicited strong feelings from those who support it and those who oppose it. Today's hearing is designed to shed light on the issues surrounding H.R. 1275 and hopefully will allow all of us on this committee to make an informed and rational decision about this bill. It is important for the committee to hear differing viewpoints and today's hearing offers us a chance to receive testimony from those supporting and opposing this legislation. Mr. Chairman, let me express my thanks and appreciation to you and your staff for arranging this hearing and to the witnesses who will appear today. I hope this will be an informative and productive hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there other members who might wish to make a statement? Mr. Peterson.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. COLLIN C. PETERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing today on this bill that I introduced, along with my Republican colleague, Representative Joe Scarborough, from Florida, to ban the interstate shipment of birds for the purposes of fighting.
Mr. Chairman, I decided to sponsor this bill because local law enforcement offices impressed upon me the difficulty they are having in enforcing bans on cockfighting, which, as you know, 47 States have a ban on cockfighting. H.R. 1275 does not change any State law, so we are not affecting that. H.R. 1275 does not affect the breeding of fighting birds in those States where cockfighting is currently legal. H.R. 1275 does not affect the export of birds from any State or territory for fighting purposes. And, as I stated earlier, H.R. 1275 only bans the interstate shipment of live birds for the purposes of fighting. So if people are growing these birds and exporting them to either legal States or out of the country, that will still be allowed.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This proposal has attracted broad support, as well as some opposition. H.R. 1275 currently has over 200 cosponsors in the House, and it passed out of the subcommittee on a voice vote. We have members representing all parts of the political spectrum that are supporting this. The bill is also supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Veterinary Medical Association, several law enforcement agencies throughout the country, as well as the Humane Society of the United States and other animal organizations.
In addition to this list of supporters, several animal agriculture groups stated very clearly in a memo to the Senate Agriculture Committee, that they do not oppose the ban on interstate transport of live birds for fighting. In fact, these groups, including the National Chicken Council, the United Egg Association, the United Egg Producers, and the Animal Health Institute, among others, sought clarifying language to assure that birds transported for purposes other than fighting would not be affected.
I am pleased to remind my colleagues that the House Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture accepted this amendment and that clarifying language is now part of the current version of H.R. 1275.
Mr. Chairman, as co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and the ranking democrat on the Livestock and Horticulture Subcommittee, I well understand the seriousness of amending the Animal Welfare Act. I also understand the need to avoid to Federal intrusion in issues where we don't need to be involved. However, I believe that H.R. 1275 is a clean bill that simply places birds under the same Federal standards as other animals in the Animal Welfare Act and removes a loophole when this was originally put in place in 1975.
As I understand the legislative history of this, there was an amendment added on theI believe on the floor of the Senate to make a loop or a different standard for these fighting birds. One of the questions I would have for people that are opposed to this, if their position is one that is what we ought to be doing in this country, then it seems to me that the logical conclusion is that we ought to get rid of the ban on dogfighting as well because there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two activities. And so it is hard for me to understand why everybody would universally be in support of banning dogfighting, but not in support of banning cockfighting.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I, too, welcome today all of the witnesses and look forward to hearing testimony and I will have a number of questions for people on both sides of the issue. And thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, for your consideration and holding the hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there other Members? Mr. Smith, did you wish to make a comment?
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. NICK SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is controversial. I am concerned, meeting with my poultry exotic bird people in Michigan, I have questions, how do you identify a fighting bird from any other bird at an early age? How is the law going to be enforced? I think there are some real questions that need to be answered and identified before we move ahead with this legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. That is obviously the purpose of the hearing. Mr. John.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CHRISTOPHER JOHN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA
Mr. JOHN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you having this hearing. Let me be very clear about my position on this. I strongly support the cockfighting industry in Louisiana. I am adamantly opposed to this piece of legislation and I will vote against it in every opportunity that I have. It is not a simple vote. It is not a simple issue. It is a very misunderstood industry if you don't understand it. And that is why I am excited about this hearing today, to give an opportunity to some of the members of the committee to try to understand what this industry is all about.
I do not want to see this bill move in a fast track to the House floor without the necessary testimony that we are going to hear today. So I am really excited about today. I want to personally thank the folks that are out here today. Many of them are from my district who have traveled many hours to get here. I think that shows the support for this industry in Louisiana and their trip is really a testament to an industry in Louisiana that promotes it, supports it, and is legal to do it. And the testimony today that you will hear, I think, will shed some light that this bill will have real negative impacts on real people in the farming community that use this industry at raisingthat helps them supplement a lot of their dollars.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, let me say three things about why I am strongly opposed to this piece of legislation. First of all, the most misunderstood item relative to this legislation is the economic impact. If you look at it, and the numbers really don't lie. I know that we have got a Congressional Budget Office memo that says that for this purpose that it is less than $100 million a year. I really question that number because, in my State alone, my State alone, Louisiana, it is a $240 million industry. And that is just with the members of the Louisiana Gamefowl Breeders Association, which is only a small percentage. So I questioned the validity of those numbers. And we will get into that, as you see, through this hearing.
Second of all, I believe there are only three States that allow cockfighting to be legal in their State. But there are 22 States that allow raising and possession of this. So it is really interesting that some of the State legislators, and in their wisdom, in all the States, have taken different approaches. Some of them outlaw it. Some of them make it legal. Some of them do a little bit of both. But I really believe that putting a one-size-fits-all from the Federal level is really not the way to go.
And, finally, I guess, more of a sensitive item to me is that I remind a lot of my colleagues that are members of the Sportsmen's Caucus and what we are doing today, that this is a pretty slippery slope that we are engaging upon with this piece of legislation. I believe that this could be a back-door approach to outlawing some of the things that we do every day in Louisiana and other places with the Sportsmen's Caucus, and that is, frankly, maybe cockfighting today. What about bow hunting tomorrow? What about some of the other kinds of hunting, fishing, rodeos? So I think this is a very slippery slope that we are going to engage in.
I just am excited about the opportunity to have this discussion because, again, as I said in my opening statement, I do not want this to be a piece of legislation that doesn't have or doesn't show the opposition and just flies through this legislature. It is much deeper, much more negatively impacting to an industry that is very important to America and to the people that engage in this industry. So I thank the chairman and I look forward to the testimony.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Any other Members who wish to be heard?
[The prepared statements of Ms. Stabenow and Mr. Underwood, and H.R. 1275 follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. DEBBIE STABENOW, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Chairman Combest and Ranking Member Stenholm, thank you for convening today's hearing on legislation offered by our colleague, Representative Collin Peterson, H.R. 1275. As you know, this bill amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the interstate movement of live birds for the purpose of having the birds participate in animal fighting.
To date, the bill has 185 bipartisan cosponsors, including myself. As you are aware, the bill was approved by the Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture, by a voice vote on April 13, 2000. I believe that the time has come to stop the practice of bird fighting and I commend my colleague for introducing legislation to that end. I look forward to today's hearing on the bill and I am pleased that this legislation is one step closer to consideration by the full House of Representatives.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF GUAM
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you and my colleagues for the opportunity to express my opposition to H. R. 1275, legislation to amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the interstate movement of live birds to participate in animal fighting.
Ostensibly, this legislation intends to close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that allows for the interstate transport of game fowl for fighting purposes from States where game fowl fighting is illegal, to States where game fowl fighting is legal. Characterizing the allowance of game fowl commerce as a loophole is misleading. This legislation is tantamount to prohibiting slot machines manufactured in a non-gambling State, to be shipped across State lines where gambling is legal. Legislation prohibiting this type of interstate commerce is a direct infringement on a State's right to legislate and enforce its own commerce laws.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Animal Welfare Act adequately addresses the interstate or foreign commerce of game fowl. The act states, ''the activities prohibited by such subsection shall be unlawful with respect to fighting ventures involving live birds only if the fight is to take place in a State where it would be in violation of the laws thereof.'' Currently, the AWA recognizes the rights of citizens to raise and transport game fowl, as domestic or foreign commerce, to States that permit game fowl fighting activities. The ultimate end of H.R. 1275 is to confine breeding and fighting of game fowl only in States and territories that permit such activity. Furthermore, this legislation infringes upon a State's right to legislate and enforce its own laws. There is no loophole with the Animal Welfare Act and thus there is no need for this legislation. Moreover, it is important that we recognize and respect the powers reserved to the States in the ordinary course of affairs when it involves the improvement and prosperity of the State.
Cockfighting is a part of the culture and traditions of my home island of Guam. While others may find it distasteful or even objectionable, it is important to note that each jurisdiction is entitled to legalize and license the activity. I am concerned that this legislation is a prelude to an all out effort to ban cockfighting. It is clear that most of the supporters of H.R. 1275 are more concerned with cockfighting than issues regarding the movement of live birds.
I oppose passage of H. R. 1275 and encourage my colleagues not to vote this legislation out of committee.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
The CHAIRMAN. I invite our first panel of witnesses to the table. I should mention that at about 10:30, we are anticipating a vote, at which time we may need to stop testimony and go vote and then return.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Inviting our panel, Mr. Wayne Pacelle, who is senior-vice president of communications and government affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, from Silver Spring, MD. Lieutenant Sherry Schlueter is a Criminal Investigations Section supervisor for Special Victims and Family Crimes Section for the Broward County Sheriff's Department from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Mr. McClelland Agler, who is chairman of the legislative committee for the American Poultry Association from Grove City, OH. Mr. Charles Berry, director for the Oklahoma Animal Husbandry Coalition and on behalf of the American Animal Husbandry Coalition from Dibble, OK. And Mr. Don Perdue, past president of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association, Inc., from Prichard, WV. We will take the testimony in the order of the introductions. So, Mr. Pacelle, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF WAYNE PACELLE, SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS AND GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. PACELLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding the hearing. Thank you to all the members who are here today. My name is Wayne Pacelle and I am senior vice-president for communications and government affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, which is the Nation's largest animal protection organization with 7 million members and constituents; 1 of every 40 Americans is a member of the Humane Society of the United States. I deliver this testimony on our behalf, as well as several other national animal protection organizations.
The Humane Society of the U.S. has worked on animal fighting issues since our organization's inception in 1954. We conduct animal fighting workshops for law enforcement, publish an animal fighting manual for law enforcement personnel, and we have worked with dozens of law enforcement agencies to raid illegal cockfights. Our investigators have been undercover at more than 100 cockfights across the country.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank Representative Peterson and also Representative Scarborough for introducing this legislation and helping to build such broad Congressional support for it. This legislation, as mentioned earlier, amends section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act by striking subsection (d), which allows for the shipment of birds from States where cockfighting is illegal to any State where it is allowed. And, as mentioned, this legislation has already progressed through the subcommittee and, on the other chamber, it is through the full committee.
And just as the prohibition on the interstate shipment of dogs for fighting has not impeded the movement of dogs for shows or other purposes, the closing of this loophole will not interrupt the shipment of birds for purposes other than fighting.
I want to mention just a few words about the breadth of support. Not only is the entire humane community united in support of this legislation, but 58 of local and State law enforcement agencies across the country, from almost every State in the country, have endorsed this legislation. We are not aware of a single law enforcement agency expressing any concerns about the legislation. In addition, the entire veterinary medical community, several State agriculture departments, and the USDA. In 1999, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman stated, ''This loophole should be closed and we fully support the intent of H.R. 1275 to prohibit any and all interstate movement of live birds for fighting purposes.'' The only groups that we have really heard from that object to this legislation are those directly involved with the cockfighting industry.
And I will mention that in 1976, when the anti-animal fighting provisions were first debated and included in the Animal Welfare Act, there was an overwhelming in the House to bar any interstate shipment of birds for fighting. It was about 300 to 70 in favor of banning any interstate shipment. And what happened is, the loophole was inserted in a Conference Committee at the end of the session and it was not an action that was ratified independently by the Senate.
Since 1976, three additional States have banned cockfighting. Missouri and Arizona voters overwhelmingly banned this practice. And also the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed that cockfighting was, indeed, banned in that State. So, as has been mentioned already, 47 States across the country have banned this activity. This is about as close to a national consensus as we can get. Ninety-five percent of the States have outlawed this activity. It is a felony in 20 States. Public opinion shows that even in States where it is permitted, such as Oklahoma, there is enormous opposition to cockfighting. Independent polls by the Tulsa World and the Daily Oklahoman, have affirmed that more than two-thirds of the electorate opposes cockfighting and wants the imposition of felony-level penalties.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will also say that cockfighting bans started to be established before there was even a humane movement in this country. In 1831, Massachusetts banned cockfighting and the majority of States banned cockfighting in the 19th century, many of those States before the first humane organization was even formed in this country, which shows that opposition to this practice was just gut level and intuitive to people.
Fighting birds so they injure themselves and kill one another for amusement is the very definition of animal cruelty. And if our concerns about animal cruelty have any meaning, any meaning at all, they should be applied in this case.
As I mentioned, we have worked across the country on this issue and, time and time again, not only do we see that cockfighting is associated with animal cruelty, but it is also associated with illegal gambling, drug use, violence. In Columbia County, OR, in 1989, State police sized $90,000 during a raid on a large cockfighting derby. I have included in my testimony, time and time again, huge sums of money, through illegal gambling, that is wagered at cockfightings.
It is part of a cycle of violence where we have seen 1 month after Senator Allard introduced the companion legislation, there were three people killed execution style in the State of Colorado. Scattered amidst their remains were the remains of fighting birds.
We are not talking about federalizing this issue in the sense of introducing a new concept. The Congress has already taken the step of including anti-animal fighting provisions in the law. There is an interstate prohibition on the shipment of dogs, and now there is an interstate shipment prohibition for birds, except for the three States where it is legal. What this has done is allowed the cockfighting industry to develop. It has given the cockfighting industry an excuse to operate in all these States with breeding operations, with the drugs that are used for fighting purposes, with the fighting paraphernalia.
And I want to just make a quick point that there is not a real distinction between the breeders and the fighters. People who are involved in breeding are involved in fighting. One of the ways that you demonstrate that your birds are good fighters is by sparring the birds. So the very act of showcasing your birds or developing your birds for sale involves fighting. But most of the people involved in breeding, in our experience, are directly fighting, and many of them are illegally fighting in the States. This is an underground industry that operates in all 50 States. Cockfighting is going on in Mississippi and it is going on in Michigan and it is going on in California and law enforcement needs assistance. The Federal loophole is weakening enforcement efforts at the State and local level. That is why 58 law enforcement agencies have endorsed this legislation.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The primary effect of this legislation will be to help curb illegal cockfighting operations in the States where the practice is outlawed. In Louisiana, in New Mexico, and Oklahoma, people can still breed the birds; people can still fight the birds. There are major breeding operations in all these States. We will hear remarks, and we have already heard some remarks, that it is a big industry in the State of Louisiana. It is a big industry because they are already breeding. So what is the threat by barring any interstate shipment from other States if the operations are already well-entrenched and well-established?
I will wrap up, Mr. Chairman, because I see my time has shrunk away. But I just want to say that cockfighting is a bloody and indefensible practice. Cockfighters breed birds for aggressive behavior, often pump them full of stimulants, such as strychnine to heighten their aggression, inject them with blood-clotting agents so they can fight longer, strap razor-sharp knives or ice-pick-like gaffs to their legs, and place them in a pit to hack one another to injury or death. Even when a bird is down and gravely wounded during a fight, the bird will be re-pitted until it is finally counted out and a winner is declared. Cockfighters will often suck the blood from the windpipe of a ''rattled'' bird in order to continue pitting him against his opponent.
Once a bird is incapable of being revived, the handler collects or pays out the amount wagered and the bird is tossed onto a heap of dead birds. This is animal cruelty for the purpose of amusement and it has no place in our society. I urge you to endorse this legislation, move it expeditiously to the floor, and see that this loophole that undermines enforcement activities at the local level is closed. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pacelle appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. All of the witnesses statements in their entirety will be made a part of the record, and summaries of those testimonies would be appreciated within the time frame giving the members optimum time for questioning.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lieutenant Sherry Schlueter.
STATEMENT OF SHERRY SCHLUETER, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS SECTION SUPERVISOR, SPECIAL VICTIMS AND FAMILY CRIMES SECTION, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
Ms. SCHLUETER. Greetings, Mr. Chairman, and members. I am Detective Lt. Sherry Schlueter of the Broward County, Florida, Sheriff's Office. Broward County is one county south of Palm Beach County, and one county north of Miami, Dade County. We are a law enforcement agency of over 4,100 sworn and nonsworn personnel and our community is composed of approximately 1 1/2 million in Broward County. We have urban areas and agricultural rural areas in our county of Broward.
As a lieutenant of detectives, I supervise the Special Victims and Family Crimes Section of the Broward County Sheriff's Office. That section investigates crimes primarily involving intrafamily violence, intrafamily dysfunction, and addresses sex crimes, domestic violence, missing persons, and the abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of disabled adults, the elderly, children, and animals.
I testify from personal experience and observation that the cockfighting industry is still rampant in south Florida, particularly in Broward County that I know best. And I know this because I have seen a burgeoning in the popularity among not only young people, but among segments of our society in Broward County that it did not exist before. Animal baiting and fighting is an organized criminal enterprise in our States. Hundreds or thousands, perhaps, of people in our county participate throughout our area and throughout the State and they include children who are being exposed to violence as a form of entertainment through this inherently cruel blood sport. It is also an illegal blood sport in our State.
I have spent a good portion of my long career investigating these crimes stemming directly from the cycle of violence. And that is why I am particularly troubled when impressionable children are encouraged to witness intentionally staged aggressive confrontations, which many experts suggest may ultimately result in the general desensitization to violence and suffering.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My office has devoted considerable resources over the years in an effort to combat blood sports, but it is a difficult undertaking which is often compounded by the fact that many of those whom I am investigated for these crimes are already convicted felons. They operate in a clandestine manner and they use covert tactics to avoid detection by law enforcement. One of the issues, as a law enforcement officer, that I am concerned about, is this loophole in Federal law which essentially creates a defense or an explanation by those who would raise and train and bait fighting animals for the purposes of fighting, but would express they are only doing that in the context of preparing them for shipment interstate to places where the activity is legal. Particularly, in south Florida, the cockfighters will suggest that they are preparing the birds for shipment to Louisiana or to Puerto Rico where cockfighting is essentially a national sport.
Ironically, in order to prepare the birds for training and to have them demonstrate their gameness and prowess, they must be sparred with one another. And even if protective muffs are placed upon their spurs and no actually injury of any appreciable nature occurs, the reality is that fighting is occurring. The mere operating or owning a facility for the purposes of training and baiting and fighting animals in my State is a felony.
However, when law enforcement does a raid, and I have orchestrated many of these myself, and participated in them, serving search warrants upon facilities where these operations are evident, the defendant's will assert that they were not conducting actual fights where the gambling was going on; that they were only preparing the birds for shipment. This essentially reduces the likelihood of a prosecutor to file a criminal case, even though the felony has occurred, because they believe that perhaps the fighting itself is not going on here.
This is a simple, in my opinion, and straightforward bill that would seek to treat birds and protect them the same as dogs and other mammals have been protected for over 25 years. It will not stop cockfighting in Florida, nor in any of the many other States which have already tried to ban this objectionable activity outside of their borders. But it will remove a loophole that has made it harder for us in law enforcement to successfully fight the good fight and win.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Ms. Schlueter appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. The committee will take a brief recess and cast its vote and the members will return. We urge you to return as quick as possible.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.
We will now hear from Mr. Agler.
STATEMENT OF McCLELLAND AGLER, CHAIRMAN, LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE, AMERICAN POULTRY ASSOCIATION
Mr. AGLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Clell Agler. I am from Ohio and I am chairman of the Legislative Committee of the American Poultry Association, which oversees the exhibition poultry industry. Incidentally, it is the oldest livestock organization in the country, having been founded in 1874. Thank you for providing the opportunity to receive my testimony today concerning H.R. 1275, the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act prohibiting interstate movement of live birds for fighting purposes.
I represent an organization of several thousand members involved in the breeding of exhibition poultry, which means showing at various events, such as county and State fairs, national poultry shows, which range in size from hundreds to 13,000.
The APA was founded in 1873 in Buffalo, NY and the Standard of Perfection was written with the standing of deciding what birds should look like. We have followed that from that point on. We have brought a couple of Standard of Perfections today, and we have marked a couple of pages in those standards so that you can take a look at our concerns of identification of what could be conceived a fighting bird or an exhibition birds. Those are on pages 202, 203, 206, and 207, and 223, and 228.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The first concern I have with this amendment is that when birds are partially developed and are chicks, it is impossible to identify an exhibition bird and a bird that may be used for fighting. How will these birds be identified and how will the law be enforced? I am concerned that my members may be unduly penalized and questioned for something that is a legal enterprise for them. My members are from many walks of life; many are small family farmers or people with backyard flocks of chickens. Both parents and children show chickens and we have to be cautious that these people are not singled out and harassed by whoever might be enforcing this law.
My other concern is that in February 1998, the Postal Rate Commission held hearings on postal rate changes; and at this time, across the Nation, poultry associations commented that the Postal Service was the only available way to send adult birds or chicks. Currently, there is no other service except the Postal Service that ships adult birds or chicks. I have heard rumors that the Postal Service may stop accepting adult birds or chicks, which will greatly interfere with our small family farmers, backyard flock owners, 4-H-ers, FFA-ers who show poultry, because the postal shipment is the only way that many of them are able to receive birds from other breeders around the United States. The transfer of show birds from owner to owner is normally by U.S. mail.
I want to bring to your attention that this is a very grave issue for those of us who are involved with showing and breeding birds, and it is a concern I bring before the House Agriculture Committee because of the ability for the Postal Service to affect all of us involved with showing poultry, which includes many young people across the Nation.
The final concern that I bring before the House Agriculture Committee, is that while currently gamefowl breeders participate in the National Poultry Improvement Plan, I fear that passage of this amendment may drive this industry underground and we will not be able to identify them. This could jeopardize all poultry flocks throughout the Nation by exposing them to diseases that are not being monitored because the gamefowl breeders will discontinue testing for poultry diseases.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The American Poultry Association and all local shows conducted under its auspices follow and support the National Poultry Improvement Plan and the regulations of all State agencies.
Thank you for allowing my testimony. I know I have perhaps raised more questions than I have given you solid testimony, but I believe my questions are legitimate and do directly affect small family farmers and young people across the Nation. I would respectfully ask that the House Agriculture Committee consider these questions and they will be addressed, especially the post office issue, so that the shipment of adult birds and chicks is not stopped. Disease control issues also must be dealt with before the amendment goes into effect. Thank you. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Agler appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Mr. Berry.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES R. BERRY, DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA ANIMAL HUSBANDRY COALITION AND ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN ANIMAL HUSBANDRY COALITION
Mr. BERRY. Mr. Chairman, I would like, if it is possible, I have some photographs here of some of our small farms, just a few of them, in Oklahoma, and some of the people that are involved. I would like to know if I could circulate those?
The CHAIRMAN. Certainly.
Mr. BERRY. Thank you. Also at this late date, I wonder if I could make this part of the record? It is a fax received last night from the Department of Agriculture, the State of Florida, which supports the gamefowl industry and breeding industry in Florida. And a note of the bills, Senate bill 1700 and House bill 941, which was rejected by the Florida State legislature, which concerned the raising of selling of game birds in the State of Florida.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Berry, the information you have with you can be submitted as part of your testimony.
Mr. BERRY. Thank you, sir. I am the president of the Oklahoma Animal Coalition, a director in the American Animal Husbandry Coalition, and a director of the Oklahoma Game Bird Association.
I see H.R. 1275 as a redundant attempt to bolster the strength of the Humane Society. The Humane Society has been tremendously successful using the initiative law process in several States of passing legislation that prevents the fighting of gamefowl. We don't understand why we need any other laws. They have been tremendously successful. Just recently, as Mr. Pacelle testified to, they have passed legislation in Arizona, Missouri, that outlaw the fighting of gamefowl. And now, Oklahoma faces the same type and similar fate if we do not win in our court challenge October 2 in the State of Oklahoma. But in Oklahoma, it looks as though we are going to win against the Humane Society because they have thousands of illegal signatures. Only time will tell in Oklahoma.
H.R. 1275 has been somewhat self-fulfilling for the Humane Society. Since the introduction of these bills, the one in the Senate, 345, and 1275, a lot of the people concerned about their businesses have found alternative methods to get around a potential felony law. And that is that they have gone to the States that are legal, purchased property where they can now move their poultry farms into legal States so that they won't be caught in a trap of transporting in the future if one of these was to become law.
So the Humane Society's bill has pretty much taken care of itself, as I see it. They have got people who are buying now in legal States so they don't have to become felons. They have been unbelievably successful, probably batting 1000 right now, with initiative laws on record to prevent the fighting of gamefowl in many States. So I don't understand why we would want to vote in another unnecessary bill. And there are bills in every Stateand I don't understand why those laws are not enforced and why they are having so much problem, as Mr. Pacelle testified to, that they are fighting birds everywhere in the country. They are so many laws to prohibit it. I think it has to do with amaybe a budget problem.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Gentlemen, without the ability of businesses to use the highways and the airways to get their products to the retail buyers across the country and in other States, the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, South America, Central America, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, it makes it impossible for the retailer to survive. It is hard for us to believe that with the amount of money that there is involved in the game bird industry that you would pass a law that would totally deny us those rights. The real goal of the Humane Society, as we have been able to perceive, is to totally destroy the entire commerce and the game bird industry in the United States.
On July 28, 1999, Wayne Pacelle told me in a meeting in Oklahoma Cityand this is a quote''That they wanted to eradicate the game bird.'' Here is the vice-president of the Humane Society testifying here today who is supposed to protect the interest of all animals, yet they are wanting to eradicate an entire species. It is incomprehensible to me.
The gamefowl industry generates around $100 million worth of economy each year to the State of Oklahoma, according to the Department of Agriculture, who support us in Oklahoma. And I have several letters of testimony from them.
The game breeders and the people who raise roosters in the State of Oklahoma and around this country are no different than the people that you live next door to, the people that you associate with on a daily basis. We are all God-fearing people trying to make a living. Some of us supplement their income, as I do, while I try to build homes. Other people, it is their entire living.
I know that there has been words and some name-calling around the country and that we should be ashamed of what we do, but we are not. This has been in our families, most of us, all our lives. And when I go to church on Sunday, the people in my congregation know that I raise birds and that I sell birds, and they treat me no different than anybody else in our congregation. So I really don't have a problem with the business that I am in.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Most families who raise game birds have enormous financial investments in their farms. Some, as much as a half a million dollars. If you will look at these photographs that I sent around the room and look into the faces of those grandmothers who raise birds, the grandfathers who raise birds, those families and their children that are on those farms, you can see that this is an American investment.
And, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask you, if this bill does pass, who will compensate the game breeders for their losses? Who will pay the college tuition for their children going through school? Who is going to compensate the State of Oklahoma $100 million worth of lost revenue every year? I can promise you it will not be the Humane Society of the United States. They are in the business of destroying commerce, not building commerce.
There are many animal groups throughout the State of Oklahoma and around the country who are concerned that if this law or any laws like this are passed that deal with transportation, that their animal group will be next. We know that the Humane Society is after all animal commerce, animal sports, even pet ownership.
The circuses that we have around the country must cross borders. The rodeo stock must cross borders. People who hunt with dogs cross borders, and many other forms of animal commerce use our State borders. Please do the right thing, Mr. Chairman, and stop 1275. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Berry appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Mr. Perdue.
STATEMENT OF DON C. PERDUE, PAST PRESIDENT, UNITED GAMEFOWL BREEDERS ASSOCIATION, INC.
Mr. PERDUE. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. My name is Don C. Perdue. I am past president of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association, Inc., a current member of UGBA, and a member of the West Virginia State Legislature. I have come here today to testify on behalf of UGBA in opposition to H.R. 1275. Our opposition resets in the main upon four issues which you will find more thoroughly elucidated in the text we have supplied.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To summarize these four areas, No. 1, economics and the loss of livelihood. We postulate that more than $600 million are provided to gamefowl breeders in the United States and UGBA through foreign and domestic sales annually. We further postulate that at least $300 million in purchases of feed stocks, et cetera, for farm maintenance, occurs each year. The effect on both gamefowl owners who raise their fowl for sale and the agricultural supply companies will be dramatic and devastating.
Number 2, on grounds of culture and heritage. Over the past years, this committee and numerous policy experts have lamented the swift erosion of the small family farm and the impending loss of our rural agricultural lifestyle across this country. Let me tell you about someone I know. Perhaps, in a broader sense, someone you all know.
Mr. Bill Keller, a UGBA member from Nampa, ID, was a diversified farmer in the 1980's, raising alfalfa, sugar beets, and beans. In the mid-1980's, when prices bottomed out, Mr. Keller supplemented his income from the sale of his gamefowl. And this supplemental income was the only thing that allowed him to stay in business and to preserve his farm, even when he saw many of his neighbor's farms sold off to cover their debts. Had it not been for his heritage with gamefowl, his heritage on the land would have been forfeited. Because Idaho law was representative of its particular culture and value system, Mr. Keller saved his farm. Enactment of this legislation would effectively erase that possibility for tens of thousands of small farm owners.
Number 3, on grounds relative to poultry science and the poultry industry-at-large. In 1995, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that almost one-third of all animal genetic resources are at very high risk of loss. One of the biggest problems being farmers' increasing reliance on just one breed, such as often happens with chickens. Further reduction of healthy gene pools for the preservation of the domestic poultry industry, will surely result where a forced exodus from the breeding of large American gamefowl occurs.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Number 4, on grounds of preservation of local governance. Some 23 States have on their books, laws which effectively protect the right of citizens to breed and raise gamefowl. Oregon law, for instance, states the following: ''Nothing in this section applies to or prohibits any customary practice of breeding or rearing game cocks even though those cocks may be subsequently used in cockfighting exhibitions outside the State of Oregon.'' Clearly, States like Oregon have been able to arrive at balanced legislation which at once reconciled any perceived need for enforcement with just consideration of local culture. Enactment of 1275 would effectively sweep away statutes carefully crafted by individual States and designed for their own particular and diverse citizenry.
Finally, I would share two brief anecdotes of a personal nature which speak to all of the above issues. In 1996 [sic] I was selected as an alternate candidate for appointment to the United States Military Academy. Granting my family's particular financial picture at that time, summoning the necessary resources for me to fly to Washington and compete in further testing, would have been an impossibility. Fortunately, my father and I were able to place a small ad in a national Gamefowl magazine wherein we sold 16 hens to Virginia, to Kansas, and to Arizona. The $200 we raised effectively allowed me to continue pursuit of a dream that I did not realize, but yet is a part of me.
Second, nearly 42 years ago, my father first shared the gamefowl hobby with me. In the rural West Virginia county where I was raised there were no baseball fields, no basketball courts, no tennis, no golf, or any of the other passions fathers today may share with their sons. It is possible that in my life my father never threw a ball to me or shared the nuances of the Varden grip. But at a young age, he did hand me a game rooster with an admonition to take good care of it just as he would.
Little did he know that along with a genuine love for the roosters, he would give me an appreciation for what it means to be chivvied unmercifully by a moneyed elite determined to show me how little my particular value system was worth, or prove me outlaw in the process. Little did he know that one day there would be many thousands like me, like the people standing outside this room and within this room, standing before you and pleading simply for the life they know.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ladies and gentlemen, the heart of life fairly thunders where there is courage. We hear that thunder every day of our lives. If it fades into the murmur of small men doing small things in a short life, then this life has lost a very great deal indeed. I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the committee, for allowing me to present my views and the views of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Perdue appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. I thank all of our witnesses. Mr. Agler, was it you that brought these books?
Mr. AGLER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. I will admit that I used to spend a lot of time showing club calves in 4-H and FFA around the livestock shows, but I never spent a lot of time in the poultry barn, and there is a whole lot more chickens in there than I knew existed. I am accustomed to seeing them on a plate with some gravy on the side of them. And so I am going to ask some probably very elementary questions. I would just ask you to bear with me. And I am going to ask this of all of you for your opinion or anyone who wishes tobecause some of this is just clarifying for my own standpoint.
Most of the bill deals with an interstate shipment. Most of the birds that are shipped interstate are shipped how? I mean, what facility is it? Is it all by Postal Service?
Mr. AGLER. Mostly.
The CHAIRMAN. The chickens that are used in fighting purposes, are they a hybrid or a specific breed? Or are they just a mixed breed of chickens?
Mr. PERDUE. With respect to that, and I think to get to the point you are going for, Mr. Chairman, the UGBA tried to introduce Standards of Perfection for American gamefowl such that they might be recognizable, and unfortunately that is extremely difficult, as Mr. Agler has testified. There is virtually no way to differentiate between large American gamefowl and Old English gamefowl.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. And the birds that might appear to be for fighting purposes, might be for some other purpose.
Mr. PERDUE. Absolutely.
The CHAIRMAN. OK. And obviously, if they are chicks, from what I understand from the testimony, a chick would not be able to be identified at all what it would be.
Mr. PERDUE. That is correct.
Ms. SCHLUETER. Mr. Chairman, also a chick would not generally be an animal that would raise concerns with law enforcement efforts. An infant chicken or rooster would not be a fighting animal yet. It would not have been incited to attack another. It would not have been enhanced in its capabilities, as yet, and therefore would not qualify as a fighting animal, if it were merely be shipped as a baby. And I don't think that law enforcement, with all of our other concerns, would really be concerned about such things. We are looking for issues involving other criminality associated with the animal baiting and fighting industry. So we would have to have more than the mere presence of an animal to be able to qualify it as a fighting animal.
The CHAIRMAN. OK. But what you are saying, if I understand you correctly, there would not be an illegality to ship the chick if this proposed legislation became law.
Ms. SCHLUETER. In States where the mere possession of fighting animals is a crime, once again, one must be able to assert with some certainty that it is a fighting animal, that its purpose is intended for fighting it against another animal. In States, such as mine, where the mere possession of animals used for fighting is not a crime, this is where the conflict arises because those who are operating facilities for the purposes of baiting, which is inciting one animal to attack another in an organized fightwhen animals in those facilities are in operation, it is difficult for law enforcement sometimes to assert that the felony is actually occurring, even though, indeed, it is, if the defense is raised that the animals are merely being raised and prepared for use in fighting in States or territories that it is legal.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So the mere appearance of a baby bird being shipped to a facility may not raise any eyebrows. I certainly would not. There has never been an instance where the shipment of, for example, the American pit bull terrier, or other dogs used for fighting purposes, has ever been challenged if it is a show animal or a companion animal. Those of us who investigate these crimes certainly can tell it when we see it. It is a lot like obscenity. You know it when you hear it or see it. And these animals generally will reflect what their purpose will be because of the way they have been prepared or enhanced.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. And I appreciate againand obviously how very novice at theat exactly how this would work. But the bill that is before us would make it illegal to ship interstate.
Mr. PACELLE. That is already, Chairman Combest, the anti-cockfighting provisions in the Animal Welfare Act Bar, any shipment of fighting birds from any State where it is illegal to any other State where it is illegal. So right now, it is illegal to ship a bird from Arkansas to Alabama under existing law for fighting purposes.
The CHAIRMAN. Right.
Mr. PACELLE. And USDA has no history of overexercising its enforcement authority. And I also think that Lt. Schlueter's comment about dogfighting statutes, no dog show has ever been disrupted by USDA. There have never been instances where USDA has overreached. In order to make a case, it is our experience, there have to be the fighting paraphernalia, the drugs, maybe some of the sheets, the bedding sheets. A whole panoply of things need to be added in order for law enforcement officials to make a credible case that is for the purpose of an animal fighting venture.
The CHAIRMAN. But it would make it illegal to ship the bird with the proposed legislation.
Mr. PACELLE. If it is for the specific purpose of fighting and that is already illegal.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. What you are saying is that there would have to then also be proof that would accompany that. Are you saying then that no one would have a problem shipping a bird that might qualify as a fighting animal, but that there would never be a question raised about whether or not that person could fight it if it wasn't accompanied by betting sheets and those other things that
Ms. SCHLUETER. Yes, Mr. Chairman. The burden upon law enforcement in criminal matters is a tremendous burden. That is why it is so difficult for us to win this battle that we are fighting against a blood sport that is a crime in our State. And I speak and teach across the Nation on the cycle of violence involving child abuse issues and those sorts of things. And when I connect with my fellow brother and sister law enforcement officers, I am often questioned about whether or not we are enduring the same hardships as they.
Merely shipping an animal will not raise eyebrows if there are other issues of concern that the purpose of the shipment of the bird would be for illegal blood sports. That would be where we would come into play. It really has not ever been an issue concerning any of the other animals that are shipped interstate. No one has challenged that.
The CHAIRMAN. If my colleagues would just indulge, I have no more questions, but there were some additional comments that wish to be made.
Mr. PERDUE. Mr. Chairman, with respect to my earlier commentary, I would like to submit into the record the large American Gamefowl Standard that the UGBA presented in 1986, I believe it was, and to comment that the issue that you raised is very pertinent to what we are here for. And it has to do with what I have just submitted. There is effectively no way in transit to tell the difference between a bird that is going to be used to show, to breed, or to fight. And granting that much, our argument is that a police officer, little-schooled, maybe not as well schooled as the gentlelady, may very well stop people who are traveling for a great legal purpose. That is a very strong likelihood and our belief.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Agler.
Mr. AGLER. Mr. Chairman, our group of people are already hassled at airports because if we bring a box in and carry it on as extra baggage, as pet baggage, they question are we bringing fighting cocks on there, immediately think that we are bringing fighting cocks on. We are hassled already. And if more bills are passed, we are going to be hassled more. We already are hassled.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Stenholm.
Mr. STENHOLM. I want to go a little bit further in this to clarify what would happen if this bill should become law. Is there a consensus at the table that the growing of gamefowl is a legal profession in the United States of America?
Mr. BERRY. Yes, sir.
Mr. AGLER. Yes.
Mr. PERDUE. Absolutely.
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Pacelle?
Mr. PACELLE. The growing of gamefowl for the purpose of fighting them?
Mr. STENHOLM. Now, wait. You are giving an interpretation.
Mr. PACELLE. No. I am just seeking clarification.
Mr. STENHOLM. I am saying, is there a consensus at the table that the growing of the birds in question and the industry it represents, and the exhibitions that occur at stock shows all over the country
Mr. PACELLE. As long as it is not for fighting, we have absolutely no quarrel with it.
Mr. STENHOLM. And, Ms. Schlueter?
Ms. SCHLUETER. Yes, sir, indeed. The raising of any species of animal is perfectly legal in our State and in other States. It is the intended purpose for which they are shipped that is a concern to law enforcement and whatof course, what they are used for within the State, if it is an illegal purpose.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. Will the gentlemen yield?
Mr. STENHOLM. Yes.
Mr. PETERSON. I just want to call your attention. And I mentioned this in my opening statement. But we added this section into the bill to try to address this. And it says that it does not apply to the buying, selling, delivering, or transporting of a live bird in interstate or foreign commerce if the activity is conducted for any purpose other than animal fighting. So we put that language in there to clarify this after the fighting activity.
Mr. PACELLE. But may I just mention, againthank you, Representative Stenholm and Mr. Chairman. Already in the law, it is been on the books since 1976, there is an interstate shipment prohibition for the purpose of animal fighting between any States except the three States now that are legal. So I am not aware, and perhaps someone from USDA or, perhaps, the other gentlemen on the panel, can say if there has ever been a problem of overzealous law enforcement with respect to the Federal provisions barring interstate shipment of birds. I think that the experiences over 24 years should be instructive. We are not breaking new ground here. We are simply extending the same principle that has been in application for a quarter century.
Mr. STENHOLM. I guess that prompts another question. If that is true, then why do we need this legislation, from your standpoint?
Mr. PACELLE. For the very reason that the loophole justifies, in a sense, the clandestine illegal fighting operations in the 47 States. Because a person in Florida can claim that he or she is breeding fighting birds. They can have the accouterments that accompany fighting operations. And if Lt. Schlueter or her colleagues in law enforcement don't catch them in the act of fighting, then they can simply claim that they are shipping them to Louisiana or Puerto Rico or other States or territories. And what this does is it gives them a baseit gives them a legitimate purpose for their operations.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STENHOLM. But, if I might interrupt you there. Ms. Schlueter, your testimony is very powerful to me, coming from those of you who are attempting to enforce the law within your State. Game fighting is illegal in Texas. Therefore, condoning an illegal activity is a difficult thing for a lawmaker to do. And I choose not to do that. I am asking if this specific legislation will be helpful, neutral, or harmful. If, in fact, everyone agrees that the growing of gamefowl is a legal profession, it is the utilization of some of the birds that becomes a question in 47 States. That is not an insignificant statement. And, therefore, how specifically will this legislation help you in Florida enforce the laws over and above what you already have the ability to do in Florida?
Ms. SCHLUETER. Mr. Chairman, and members, in the State of Florida, the operation or ownership of a facility for the purposes of baiting or fighting animals is a felony. When my law enforcement agency orchestrates a raid on a facility after doing aerial surveillance, other intelligence, and developing a search warrant, when we raid the facility, we will often find all of the paraphernalia connected to an animal baiting and fighting operation. We will find the game cocks separate from one another. We will find agitation devices, vitamin K, and other blood-clotting enhancers, often steroids and strychnine and all of the other illegalwell, legal paraphernalia, but for illegal uses, the gas and spurs and things of that nature, which, to an expert, would add up to an animal baiting and fighting operation.
And any opportunity to train birds for the purposes of fighting, which generally they must be before they would be shipped interstate, because otherwise they would have little value as fighting birds if they had not been thus prepared. In examining this facility and looking at everything, an expert, such as myself, who has qualified in court, could say this is an animal fighting and baiting operation. Therefore, a felony has occurred. We will find large sums of money and everything else there.
But when I take this case to a prosecutor and explain that it is a felony crime, one of the first questions is, well, do you have injured roosters there? Did you see animal cruelty? Did you see gambling? Now, these are other crimes that occur in conjunction with these operations, however, they are often disinclined to file a felony criminal charge upon an individual if they have not seen evidence of actual fights occurring, where birds are injured and money exchanges hands. They feel there is no reasonable likelihood of prosecution or they don't wish to give a felony conviction to a person who may not have been engaged in an open way and fighting.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, therefore, law enforcement's efforts to charge criminals with the crimes that they are committing, are often experiencing the door-slamming in our faces, even though they are violating the State Lawthe defendants.
Mr. PERDUE. Mr. Chairman, with respect to the gentlelady's comments, something also I would like to enter into the record, there are 22 States wherein the possession of gamefowl is an accepted practice. And with respect to her just recent testimony, if you came to my gamefowl farm, to the game chickens I have at my home, many of the things she just elucidated would make me in violation of law, but it is not violation in my State.
Now, with respect to that, we have a tremendous problem here in terms of being able to homogenize this law from the top down. The States clearly have the ability to interdict the process. We have recently seen, even in the State of Arizona, where they have moved to outlaw cockfighting. They have done the things that they needed to do. In my own State of West Virginia, raids do occur. There is very little cockfighting that occurs in the State of West Virginia. I can assure you of that. The States do have the ability to interdict this process and have always had the ability to interdict this process, and have a proven track record of being able to, at least the State that I am most familiar with. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Cooksey.
Mr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to go along a slightly different line of questioning. Incidentally, I used to raise Plymouth White Rocks when I was in the 4-H club, and they were shipped in from somewhere or we got them from somewhere, probably from somewhere out of State. But now, they don't raise that kind of chickens commercially.
I would like to ask a question. Of the proponents of this piece of legislation, how many of you were ever in the military, served on active duty in the military, and ever had combat pay? OK. Now, the proponents of the legislation. Now, of the people in the audience that are opponents of this legislation, that are opposed to it, how many of you served in the military, in combat? Good. Thank you.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, from the State's rights standpoint, I don't think we need any more Federal legislation. I think we have got too much Federal legislation, top-down legislation. But it is easier to go to the one legislative body in Washington, and we federalize too many issues. And Iand, in principle, I am opposed to another piece of Federal legislation. And both parties are absolutely out of control about trying to federalize every move that we make. And these should be done on a State-by-State basis.
Now, that said, I think that cockfighting and dogfighting and people fighting is barbaric. It is not humanitarian. I think that if every person would spend some time in the militaryI was in the military during the Vietnam period. I got combat pay when I was in Thailand. I didn't shoot anybody; nobody shot me, thank goodness. But too often the people that are involved in these seemingly inhumane activities were never in the military and they have never seen people that have been injured.
In July, I was in Sierra Leone, where there is brutal civil war going on. I couldn't get any other Member of Congress to go with me. None of them are crazy. But we flew around overand flew into some areas near the guerrilla-held territory where children had their arms cut off by the guerrillas. We were in a Russian helicopter with Russian pilots, some American guys that were really kind of our security people. But I feel that if more people would seek combat, seek people, fighting each other, there would be less need, less demand, to get into some of these cockfighting activities. And I feel very strongly about that.
I feel like everybody ought to spend some time in the military to learn discipline. And if there is any question about what happens when people fight each other, read the new book, ''The Flag of Our Fathers,'' about the six men that raised the flag at Iwo Jima. It is a fascinating book. My wife gave it to me for my birthday.
And that is the other thingas you get older, you get a little bit moreI always wanted to be a soldier when I was young. You know, volunteer. I was in the Air Force. But when you read what oneat Iwo Jima, how people were really barbaric to each other there, on both sides, but particularly Japanese, they were bad guys back then, it makes you question the need to have cockfighting.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, that said, how much interference do you think this legislation would create for people that are in the poultry business that raise poultry for eating purposes, for nutrition purposes?
Mr. BERRY. Congressman Cooksey, if I might read this concern to you. This is Senator Allard's third paragraph, as he introduced, S. 345 to the Senate: ''As introduced, this legislation will close the loophole on cockfighting and prohibit interstate movement of birds for the purpose of fighting from States where cockfighting is illegal, to States where cockfighting is legal. This legislation will clarify that possession of fighting birds in any of the 47 States would then be illegal, as shipping them out for cockfighting purpose would be illegal.'' That is grave concern to us. And we realize it is the introduction of the bill, but we have no guarantees that as soon as this bill, if it were passed, that a bulletin wouldn't go to the United States Postal Service from east coast to west coast prohibiting the shipment of game birds.
Mr. PACELLE. May I?
Mr. COOKSEY. Yes. Sure.
Mr. PACELLE. Thank you, Congressman Cooksey. I appreciate that. I think Senator Allard has clarified, subsequent to that, that that would not be the effect of the legislation. But I do want to say, Congressman Cooksey, and, Mr. Chairman, that there is not a distinction really, as a practical matter, between those who are breeding gamefowl for fighting and those who are fighting.
And, I mean, not to get too personal about it, Mr. Chairman, but the United Gamefowl Breeders Association, many of its Board of Directors have been cited for attending and engaging in illegal cockfights. Mr. Perdue was cited in May of 1991, in Vinton County, OH, along with about 700 other people who were at an illegal cockfighting, which was on the farm of one of the Board members of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So my only point here is to say that the peoplethere is not some huge distinction between folks who are breeding for other purposes. These folks are breeding for fighting. That is the reason they are doing it. They love their sport. It is the thing that many of them care about the most. But it is fighting and it is animal cruelty and that is why we are here. And the reason that we areall we are doing is building on Federal law. We are not creating a new statute. We are closing a loophole. The anti-animal fighting provisions have been on the books since 1976.
Mr. COOKSEY. OK. One other quick question. I don't mean to make light of this whole hearing, but we have got a lot of important issues about people's health care, about budget, about some other things we have to do.
Will South Carolina have to change their game cock mascot?
Mr. PERDUE. That is an interestingsir, if I may, to answer your question directly, first of all, our conjecture at UGBA is, that if this law is enacted, it will drive more gamefowl breeders underground and thereby increase the possibility of disease and other problems for the poultry industry at large. It puts them in a position where they are not going to be inclined to go to their veterinarians and talk about their problems because they could be brought under indictment in some way. Secondly, the gentleman mentioned an incident in 1991. I think it was in 1990.
But, in any event, I was not convicted of cockfighting. It is an interestingand that is another interesting supposition as well. Almost invariably we hear the proposal that everyone who breeds game chickens fights them. When, from the years when I was 11 years old until I was nearly 17 years old, my father and I raised game chickens for all those years. Not oncenot once did we fight any roosters. We didn't have the money. We couldn't travel. So it is not true to suggest that everyone who breeds game chickens fights them.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Peterson.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I just want to real briefly, the reason for this legislation is that peopleto make it real clearpeoplewhen they try to prosecute these things, people use the excuse that they are raising these chickens to send them to a State where it is legal. That is what the underlying problem is. That is all we are trying to do, is give the prosecutorsclose one loophole that is now being used against them. We are not trying to change any State law. If they want to fight in Louisiana, I got no problem with that. We are just trying to help these folks with their job.
The other thing is, that if all of this stuff about underground and all these other issues is true, we had the same arguments about dogs in 1976, and it has not proven out to be the case. You have not driven the dog industry underground. You have not stopped the shipment of dogs. That is not the case. And I submit that this will not have the same effect on the chicken industry either. And that is not our intention to drive this underground. Our intention is to try to make people follow the law.
So I would ask that the gentleman here from West Virginia, you say that you are taking care of the situation in West Virginia. I can't tell you how many calls I got from people that are fighting chickens in West Virginia. It is happening. They are gambling on these chickens in West Virginia. Now, as I understand it both things are against the law. So you guys apparently aren't doing a very good job of enforcing the law in West Virginia.
Mr. PERDUE. Well, in point of fact, just over in the last 2 months, there was a raid in the State of West Virginia. A number of people were incarcerated for it. What I am suggesting, sir, is that the laws are being utilized and are being enforced.
But like many laws in the country, they can't be enforced on a 100 percent of the citizens, 100 percent of the time.
Mr. PETERSON. I understand. But all we are trying to do is to help you, so that when your prosecutors go and try to prosecute somebody that is fighting in West Virginia, they won't be able to use the fact that they are going to send these chickens to Louisiana. That is the only change this thing is doing.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PERDUE. And if I may refer once again to the Oregon law, with respect to the fact that it specifically states that their citizenry can raise their chickens for sale to be fought in other dominions, whether it is legal or not, I think that is the issue.
Mr. PETERSON. Well, and this bill of mine allows that. The only thing it doesn't allow is for you to ship these if they are used for fighting purposes.
The only three States that have no prohibition at all are Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Reading this statement here, all of these things are illegal in West Virginiacockfighting, possession
Mr. PERDUE. I think that may be a misnomer, sir. Their reading of the law is not current. And I believe that if they would take the time to look at it, in the State of West Virginia, possession of gamefowl is not
Mr. PETERSON. For fighting purposes?
Mr. PERDUE. It says possession of gamefowl.
Mr. PETERSON. But you don't address the
Mr. PERDUE. No. Our law does specifically say that if you are fighting gamefowl, that is an illegality. Yes.
Mr. PETERSON. So then, in other words, possession of a bird for fighting
Mr. PERDUE. I would presume if you were arrested on site, yes.
Mr. BERRY. Mr. Peterson, I have a problem with some of the testimony when they are talking about the laws that exist in Florida and the inability of a judge to sit before asomeone who is accused of a crime and not being able to decipher the difference between intent and someone who is lying. I mean, these laws exist. The judges have to make the determination, sir, of whether or not the person is committing a crime or not.
Mr. PETERSON. But thatI am not
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERRY. We don't need any more laws in this country
Mr. PETERSON. I am not talking about the judges. It is before the judges. It is the prosecutors never even bring these cases because they don't think that they are going to be successful. One of the reasons is that we have this exception that was put in by a Senator from West Virginia in 1976.
Mr. BERRY. I have never heard that argument in my 53 years in the gamefowl industry ever once in the many States that I have traveled where they are illegal, that they couldn't get prosecutions when laws exist that made it illegal to congregate. That is beyond belief to me that you could use that as an excuse.
Mr. PETERSON. But here is a lady who does this all the time for a living and that is what she tells me. And I have heard this from all other kinds of
Mr. BERRY. And we have got testimony from the Florida State Department of Agriculture that supports the gamefowl industry and the State legislators
Mr. PETERSON. I support the gamefowl industry.
Mr. BERRY. The State legislators have already rejected two laws, one in the Senate, and one in the House, as of May. If it was that big a problem, can't you imagine that they would not have rejected those laws?
The CHAIRMAN. Well, Ms. Schlueter, would you
Ms. SCHLUETER. Yes, Mr. Chairman, if it please. The Palm Beach Post reported on Friday, March 17, 2000
Rooster trainer Roberto Torres may feel like swinging from a trapeze in the rooster gym. A judge, Wednesday, dismissed a felony animal-fighting charge against the Acreage resident. A prosecutor accused the electrician of holding rooster fights at his home at 12689 Sunset Boulevard, but Torres' attorney, Glenn Mitchell, argued Torres was just training roosters, such as working them out on trapezes for sale in other States where cockfighting is still legal. Torres won a related civil case in December. A judge ordered 78 roosters, hens, and chicks, seized by the county, returned for lack of proof of fighting. Torres, 48, got most of the animals back, but he promptly got rid of most of them because he was afraid it may happen again.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERRY. There is the judge who made the decision. I am suggesting maybe that the attorneys for the prosecution are not strong enough. The judge heard the case and he made his decision, sir.
Mr. PETERSON. I have no problem with you doing it in Oklahoma. If you want to fight chickens there, that is fine with me. I think you folks in Oklahoma and Louisiana and New Mexico ought to be glad about this bill, because if all of things happen, it is going to be a good thing for your States. You are going to see the industry increase in your States. People are going to move to your States to grow more of these birds and it will be good for you.
Mr. PACELLE. Mr. Chairman, and, Mr. Peterson, the reason that they are not glad about it is becauseand let us really, to be frank, cut through the chicken manure about this, this is a huge illegal industry across the country.
Mr. RILEY. It is not illegal in Oklahoma.
Mr. PACELLE. Across the country was the qualifier. We have identified illegal animal-fighting operations in almost every State in this Country. It is going on. There are three magazines. Take a look at these magazines. There are three of them. One is called ''Grit and Steel.'' The other is called the ''Feathered Warrior.'' And this one is the ''GameCock.'' They advertise the knives. They advertise the stimulants. They advertise all of the paraphernalia associated with animal fighting and has subscribers in every State in the country. Let us not be under any illusion that this is happening just in the three legal cockfighting States. It is happening in all the States and it is happening partly because law enforcement has a hindrance with the Federal law.
Mr. PERDUE. Mr. Chairman, I believe the argument is fallacious with respect to what the gentleman has just mentioned. He suggested, in his own testimony just now, in his own commentary just now, that cockfighting occurs in every State in the Union. That would mean to me that there are a great number of people perhaps who aren't involved in cockfighting who have gamefowl in those States. Those people do transport those chickens periodically in legal transit. They do travel from time to time. They are free and they are American citizens. The problem with this act, and we keep trying to come back to it, is not that the law enforcement agencies do not have the ability to interdict the process, it is that other people will be swept up in the process who do not necessarily need to be there. It is unfair.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, this hearing so far has posed more questions to me than it has answers. And I know I have a limited time. But let me start with Lt. Schlueter. Can you define a blood sport for me?
Ms. SCHLUETER. A blood sport involves the intentional aggression of one against another.
Mr. RILEY. Do we need to do away with professional boxing?
Ms. SCHLUETER. Professional boxing is not illegal in my State, sir. I talked about illegal blood sports.
Mr. RILEY. Neither ofwell, should we not allow a boxer like Joe Louis, who was raised in Alabama, to go to any State where it is legal and fight?
Ms. SCHLUETER. Sir, Mr. Louis would have the option of choosing for himself. He makes the choice. The birds and the dogs do not.
Mr. RILEY. Let me tell you, I was in the chicken business for 25 years, and maybe that does color my judgment somewhat. I had a million-and-a-half chickens when I sold my business out. And I also destroyed about 30 to 40,000 chickens a week. And I don't know if you realize it or nothave you ever been to a chicken farm?
Ms. SCHLUETER. Indeed, sir, I have.
Mr. RILEY. Most chickens will live 6 to 7 weeks. Then they go to the slaughter plant. They are hung upside-down, have an electric knife cut their head off. Most of these people that raise game birds, will raise them for 2 years. They have a free range. They are not in confinement. They are cared for. They are even pampered. Now, I am sitting here saying, if I had an optionif I was the chicken and I had an option of this 2 years of pampering and then one option to fight 1 day, when there is not necessarily the option that I will lose or that I will die. How many chickens are killed in a fight?
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is inconceivable to me, if I raised a $250 to $500 rooster and I fought it, I would not want that rooster to die. I would want to take it home. I would want to use it for breeding. There are so many other things. And for us to sit hereMr. Pacelle, you made the statement two or three times about dogs. Is there a place in the United States today where dogs still fight?
Mr. PACELLE. Yes.
Mr. RILEY. Where?
Mr. PACELLE. Everywhere. All 50 States.
Mr. RILEY. No, that is not right.
Mr. PACELLE. All 50 States, Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Well, no.
Mr. PACELLE. We would be happy to document that for you. There are illegal dogfights that are occurring in cities across the country as well as in rural areas.
Mr. RILEY. All right.
Mr. PACELLE. There are 10 underground dogfighting publications that exist.
Mr. RILEY. Mr. Pacelle, let me ask the questions, if you don't mind. Do you think that it should be illegal for somebody on the Texas/Mexican border to raise bulls to be bought in Mexico? And would that be animal cruelty to do away with bullfighting in Mexico? Should we do that? Should we not allow anyone in the United States to export a bull to Mexico?
Mr. PACELLE. The legislation that is being proposed doesn't bar the shipment of birds for fighting purposes to other countries.
Mr. RILEY. But it effectively does. And all due respect to Mr. Peterson, when he says, that he is not trying to affect the game bird industry, I think he is absolutely wrong. He will decimate it. He will put every one of these breeders out of business. These are people that have been doing this for 35, 40, 50 years. And for us to sit here and make these kind of judgmentsI have been a hunter all of my life. Given an option of me going out and taking a .3006 and shooting a deer or shooting a deer with a bow and arrowif we start down this slippery slope, everything that you described in your testimony also would apply to my hunting rights. I am not about to let that happen. It is a culture that you may not be aware of in the South. It is something I was raised with.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When you tell me that I can't hunt with a dog, when you tell me I can't hunt with a bow, when you tell meI just happenedmy secretary just brought this in here. Tonight we are having the annual Sportsmen's Caucus up here. And you look inside and it shows people deer hunting. It shows people duck hunting. It shows people doing all sorts of things that both of you would consider cruelty. We don't.
And I think that we are about to go down a path that I don't want to go down. The people in Oklahoma and Louisiana want to fight chickens. It is against the law in Alabama. And I have never been to a cockfight. But I also understand they should have the right to make that decision.
I don't believe in gambling, but you do in Florida. Now, you can't sit there and tell me that when you have a jai-alai match you don't have gambling and you don't have all the problems that are associated with gambling, and that you don't have the drug deals, and you don't have everything else. People in Alabama cannot understand why you do that. But it is a different culture.
And for us to sit here and make these broad-sweeping statements about how we are going to disenfranchise a whole group of people that have been doing this for a livingyou can make the sametoday we are talking about paying tobacco farmers if they get out of tobacco. Is the Federal Government going to pay people that has been in this business for 35 or 40 years to get rid of what they consider their business? I don't think so. Then what happens to them?
Mr. PACELLE. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Riley, Congressman Riley, in 1976, the Congress overwhelmingly included anti-animal fighting provisions in Federal law.
Mr. RILEY. Why do you think they exempted chickens?
Mr. PACELLE. They did not exempt chickens. They had a small
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. Well, what are we doing here?
Mr. PACELLE. Well, they inserted a small loophole in order to allow the shipment of birds for fighting purposes from States where it is illegal to the States where it is legal.
Mr. RILEY. Why do you think they did that?
Mr. PACELLE. They did it because there was a clever Senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who got it in the Conference Committee over the objections of the House which overwhelmingly voted to ban any interstate shipment of birds for fighting.
Mr. RILEY. So you are telling me that the United States Congress was co-opted or really didn't pay attention to what they voted on.
Mr. PACELLE. No. I have got the entire CONGRESSIONAL RECORD here. It is about 40 pages. And there was a vigorous debate on the issue. Both sides were aidedthe side that you have represented, as well as the side of the gentlemen who are opposing this bill. There were proponents of including the ban on interstate shipment, and in the end the vote was overwhelming in favor of barring any interstate shipment of birds for fighting, and also dogs.
And there is a larger debate, Congressman, about the use of animals in society. And there is a debate about hunting and there is a debate about a variety of other issues. We at the Humane Society, think those are important debates to have. But whether or not everyone agrees with us on our position, that should not invalidate stopping the most abusive and cruel activities that are out there. I mean, by the logic of saying there is something else that some people are concerned about, therefore, we can't deal with this abuse, we would never have anti-cruelty laws.
Mr. RILEY. But the invalidationno. The invalidation comes from you. When you make a determination that cockfighting is worse than hunting, that cockfighting is worse than deer hunting just because you believe it, it doesn't meet it is true.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PACELLE. That is the American people. Forty-seven States have banned it. That suggests some sort of emerging national consensus, most of which did it in the 19th century. Hunting is not banned in a single State.
Mr. RILEY. But explain to me the reason why it wouldn't be. Explain to me why this wouldn't be the first step
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. We will be happy to have a second round. Mr. John.
Mr. JOHN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I enjoyed the comments from the gentleman from Alabama, and an added bonus to his statement is that I am looking at a sheet that there are 11,500 gamefowl forums in Alabama with a total economic value of about $350 million that will be gone with the passage of this piece of legislation.
Mr. Pacelle, just real brieflyI try to get down to the bottom of people's intentions and try to address it head on, rather than doing it in multi-layer type of ways. Legislatively, we tend to do that sometimes. Is it, indeed, your intent to make cockfighting illegal?
Mr. PACELLE. We support all 47 State laws against cockfighting. We support banning it in the three States where it is now legal. And we support H.R. 1275.
Mr. JOHN. Say that again.
Mr. PACELLE. We support all 47 State laws prohibiting cockfighting. We support legislation that has been advanced in all three of the States where cockfighting is legal in some jurisdictions. It is already outlawed in nine counties in New Mexico. We support statewide legislation to ban it in all those States. And we support H.R. 1275 as a complement to those State laws so that those State laws are not undermined by this provision in Federal law. And we support it as a State's rights provision.
Mr. JOHN. OK. So it is clearly, obviously, your intent to try to ban cockfighting in all 50 States in some way, shape, or form?
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PACELLE. No mistake about it. We think it is a despicable industry.
Mr. JOHN. And that is why I question the intent of what is happening here today. Instead of just up-front saying or getting someoneand I am not suggesting to do thatFederal legislation banning cockfighting in all 50 States, we are trying to use a piece of legislation here to get at the same end, which, I believe, doesn't really work in any sense of what it is doing. You are trying to basically take something that is legal in my State of Louisiana and try to back-door, through a Federal law, trying to stop the intent of the people of Louisiana. Because I was in the State legislature for 8 years. They had a bill every year, maybe twice, maybe five times, to ban it. It has never, ever passed in Louisiana. So I think that we need to respect the people of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and also New Mexico, whose citizenry is reflected through their elected bodies, support an industry.
But to try, in your way, to back-door approach to eliminate it with this piece of legislation, I think clearly is just not the way to go. Could you comment on that?
Mr. PACELLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Representative John. The legislation is clear. It would not stop fighting in Louisiana, nor would it stop raising birds for fighting purposes in Louisiana, as long as they are fought within the boundaries of the State. This is a clear case of building on existing Federal law and barring any interstate shipment of birds in order to protect the 47 States that have already banned cockfighting. The intention is not to ban cockfighting with this legislation in Louisiana, Oklahoma, or New Mexico.
I will say, and just to be perfectly clear, we have supported the legislation in Louisiana at the State level. We think those are the proper fora in order to ultimately decide whether cockfighting is permitted within those State's borders. Gentleman on this panel mentioned that we support a ballot initiative in the State of Oklahoma to ban cockfighting. That is the forum that we are using to resolve the State question. We are here in Congress and we are talking about the interstate provisions of the law that exists in trying to help local law enforcement, which we work with all across the country, in combating cockfighting.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JOHN. You said there are illegal cockfights going on all over the country. How will this bill stop that?
Mr. PACELLE. Mr. Chairman, Representative John, the purpose is to aid law enforcement by taking away an argument from cockfighters as a defense that they are possessing these birds and raising these birds for shipment to one of the three legal States, when, in reality, there are going to be illegally fighting. It would just remove an impediment to law enforcement. It won't stop it entirely. There are scoff laws out there and there are going to be continued efforts to illegally cockfight, just as there are efforts to dogfight illegally. Dogfighting is rampant in this country. We are trying to aid law enforcement to stop this form of animal cruelty, which is associated with all these other vices that we discover time and time again.
Mr. JOHN. Well, it is interesting to me. I think we established a pretty good case from Lt. Schlueter. I am sorry. That it is really difficult, in a lot of ways, to distinguish between a fighting bird and a show bird. I think that case was pretty evident to me that we built a good case. That being said, I have two further questions, Mr. Chairman. Does the State of Florida currently prohibit the possession of fighting birds?
Ms. SCHLUETER. It does not.
Mr. JOHN. It does not. Well, given the amendment adopted in the subcommittee that allows the transporting of birds for show or agricultural purpose, how would your enforcement run? And I know you touched on it a little bit because you used words as instinct and feelings that we think that this bird might beI would like for you to comment on how would your enforcement role change if this bill were actually passed through the Congress.
Ms. SCHLUETER. My enforcement efforts would remain the same, vigilant and tenacious, to fight this crime.
Mr. JOHN. So you would use your instinct and feelings to see if that bird is a
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SCHLUETER. Now, what I talked about was aerial surveillance and other intelligence, which would be developed to obtain a search warrant to raid a facility. That is how I operate as a professional law enforcement officer. The problem is when the raid occurs and all of the accouterments to the fighting operation are present. Sometimes we are successful in filing these felony charges and sometimes we are not, when prosecutors become disinclined to file felony criminal charges upon someone where they are not convinced that the birds are actually being fought at that facility. They are less educated in this field than those of us who are enforcing the laws.
And sometimes all of those items which are inconsistentall of the paraphernalia which is inconsistent with any legitimate agricultural pursuits or animal husbandry and are only consistent with the animal baiting and fighting operationssometimes that alone is not enough to convince them to file a felony criminal charge which will tie up their time and require a trial if the actual fighting is not in evidence. The reality is that wherever birds are being prepared or trained to fight, animal fighting is occurring. Absent the dead and dying birds, absent the felony gambling on a raid of a fight in progress, some prosecutors are disinclined to go ahead and file the criminal charges, even after we have made the arrests on the scene.
Mr. JOHN. OK. Just one final question and I will end on this. And I guess this is for Mr. Pacelle. Does your organization support hunting?
Mr. PACELLE. The Humane Society of the U.S. has a range of policy positions and generally we are critical of sport hunting.
Mr. JOHN. So your organization would be against the willful taking of animals for recreation?
Mr. PACELLE. Generally speaking.
Mr. BERRY. Mr. John.
Mr. JOHN. I end my questions right there.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERRY. Mr. Chairman?
The CHAIRMAN. Does the gentleman have a comment to Mr. John's question?
Mr. BERRY. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Please proceed.
Mr. BERRY. To answer your question. If I might quote Mr. Pacelle?
If we could shut down all sports hunting in a moment, we would. Our goal is to get sports hunting in the same category with cockfighting and dogfighting. Our opponents say that hunting is a tradition. We say traditions can change. Only 7 percent of Americans are hunters. That means there are more of us than there are of them. It is a simple matter of democracy. The majority rules in a democracy. We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it State by State.
Mr. JOHN. Mr. Berry, that is really what concerns me.
And being an avid bow hunter that I am, back home in Louisiana, the debate that we are having today would simulate the fact that, yes, bow hunting would be legal in Louisiana, but we could not import arrows from being made in Utah or some other places.
Mr. PACELLE. Mr. Chairman, may I respond?
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
Mr. PACELLE. I have unfortunatelyand I don't mean to hedge on this at all. The Humane Society of the United States is generally, as I said, critical of sports hunting. Mr. Peterson, who is about as avid a hunter as you can have in the Congress, is aware of that. There are many other Sportsmen's Caucus members who support this legislation. I don't recall any attribution for that comment. If it was made 10, 15 years ago, I have never had it presented to me as something that I have said. I have only been employed with the Humane Society of the U.S. since the mid-1990's, and it certainly wasn't uttered on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States. So I just want to clarify that.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I know there is one quote that circulates, apparently from me, but it is completely taken out of context about domestic animals. It said that we don't support the raising of domestic animals. That is an absolute falsehood. People can make up quotes. You are here asking me what our position is, and I will tell it to you squarely. But let us not rely on third-party quotes that may or may not be fabricated.
Mr. PERDUE. Certainly. May I respond?
The CHAIRMAN. I don't want to get into a debate here among the panel. Short of that, did you have another comment?
Mr. PERDUE. Yes, sir. I wanted to respond again to Mr. John. Mr. John, your question having to do with some of the activities of the Humane Society and their response. You can no more train a game cock to fight than you can train him to crow. The business of being able to fly over someone's farm and determine that they should be raided, should be frightening to everyone here. My goodness, if they flew over and saw me with my shotgun out in the front yard, would they come down and see if maybe that was a registered weapon or not? I mean, where do we stop short, at some point, of belaboring each other nationally with laws that are meant only to drive themselves into somebody's front yard and get into their bathroom, bedroom, and living room, and see what the heck they are doing?
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. Now, Mr. Pacelle, I want to make sure I understand. You are not opposed to Angus living here at the committee.
Mr. PACELLE. Absolutely not, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. OK. I wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to clarify that.
Mr. PACELLE. Yes. Thank you very much. Ninety-five percent of our members are pet owners and we cherish that bond and we appreciate the fact that Angus has a good home here.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Lieutenant Schlueter, I am missing something here that Iboth in your response to Mr. John and then your earlier response to Mr. Stenholm, when he asked how this would affect your ability. In both of those cases, and tell me if I have missed something, you talked about the fact of how you could arrest someone given the reasons for and finding the paraphernalia. But there was a difficulty sometime in havingin prosecutors prosecuting the case, which is their problem and not ours. How does this bill, proposed bill, change that?
It was never clear to me how this proposed bill gets at the point you were talking about of trying to convict someone.
Ms. SCHLUETER. Mr. Chairman, I apologize if I am not making myself clear.
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, you may be making yourself very clear. It just may not be registering with me.
Ms. SCHLUETER. When a cocker raises, as an explanation or a defense, that the enterprise, the operation that we have raided, is intended only to raise birds for shipment to States where cockfighting is legal and that the fights are not occurring at the facility we are raiding, some prosecutors are disinclined to proceed, even though technically a felony has occurred. Because, in our State law, owning or operating or maintaining a facility for the purposes of baiting or fighting animals, is a felony.
The CHAIRMAN. How does this make that better? I mean, why wouldn't they just say that they were going to send them to the Philippines?
Ms. SCHLUETER. If they raise that issue, that certainly can be a challenge. However, thus far in south Florida, the main defense has been, we are shipping these birds to Puerto Rico or we are shipping these birds to Louisiana.
The CHAIRMAN. And Puerto Rico wouldn't change.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SCHLUETER. It would. It is a territory, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, I am sorry. It would in Puerto Rico. That is correct. This does not make it illegal for them to ship out of the country.
Ms. SCHLUETER. No. It does not. Nor is it presently illegal. So that is a challenge we would face, but it would certainly, I believe, reduce that defense in a significant way because it would be connected
The CHAIRMAN. OK. So the reason that it is difficult to have some prosecutors prosecute the case, even though in your understanding of the confiscation, there was ample evidence, would be that that person would argue that those birds were being raised not to fight, but to ship to other States where it was.
Ms. SCHLUETER. And, indeed, when they are prepared for the purposes of fighting to be shipped interstate, they are generally sparred, which is a felony as well.
The CHAIRMAN. And so that would. But the point that I am getting at is that theif it is an argument that that is what they are being raised for, the same argument could be made that they were being raised to ship to the Philippines.
Ms. SCHLUETER. It could be.
Mr. PERDUE. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. PERDUE. And just as a comment, the thing that occurs to me, we have exhaustively elaborated on the fact that 22 or 23 States have laws which protect possession of gamefowl. I guess the question that I would raise, and maybe it is not appropriate for me to raise the question, but in the State of Florida, why wouldn't the State of Florida act to make it illegal to possess gamefowl rather than press forward on some national activity that would probably harm a lot of people that have States that don't do that?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SCHLUETER. Mr. Chairman, may I respond?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, ma'am. I am sorry.
Ms. SCHLUETER. Thank you, sir. It is certainly a fact that there are legitimate legal purposes for the possession of gamefowl, just as there are legitimate purposes for the possession of pit bull Terrier dogs and other animals that are used sometimes in blood sports. It would be helpful to us in law enforcement to make the mere possession of fighting animals illegal, to make the animals themselves contraband. But the difficulties I see, as a professional in investigations in law enforcement for over 28 years, is to distinguish what those purposesI, as an experienced investigator, certainly know a fighting animal when I see one.
With dogs, it is easier to detect because usually the ears have been cut and the animal will bear scars on its head, face, neck, lower legs, and so forth. On roosters, if they survive their fighting careers, are not so easy to detect because they are covered with the feathers and so forth. Some of them because of the comb and wattles being cut for fighting purposes, would be another sign. But there are species of chickens that have little or no wattles or combs. So certainly it would be a challenge.
But law enforcement is not looking for more things to investigate. We are trying to enforce the laws that exist now. We are addressing animal baiting and fighting not only because of the animal cruelty, which is an important aspect, but because of the other crimes that occur in conjunction with it, that create a dangerous environment, not only for law enforcement officers investigating it, but for those in attendance, particularly children, who are often found at these spectacles.
The CHAIRMAN. I don't mean this to be a facetious question, but you raised a point that dogs are going to fight naturally. Are chickens going to fight naturally?
Mr. PACELLE. Absolutely, chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. If I owned some pit bulls and they fought amongst themselves, it wouldn't be my desire, but I have had Cocker Spaniels that have fought. If we are using that as a judgment, what would keep me from falling under a potential legal claim that I was fighting animals?
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SCHLUETER. I understand your concern, Mr. Chairman. But the obvious answer is this. It is only illegal if a person is inciting one animal to attack another. If animals engage in fights to establish dominance or to establish a hierarchy, that is a natural part of animal behavior, human and nonhuman. We certainly see that. The difference is, when a person intentionally incites one animal to attack another, that is when it becomes a felony crime. And I assure you that many dog fighters do raise that defense as well when they are being investigated. When we discover dogs that are bearing scars and who have the ears cut and are separated from one another with heavy chains and padlocks around their necks, these are signs that this is an animal-fighting operation.
However, if we come on to a scene where two dogs are injured and we have not witnessed the fight itself, and the defendant says, yes, they got lose and they got into it, I am certainly not going to jeopardize my credibility by making an arrest on something that I cannot defend. So law enforcement has a tremendous burden, I am sure all of you in this committee know, for us to prove a criminal case takes a considerable amount of evidence.
That is why I assure you that it is unlikely for this closure in the loophole, if you are kind enough, to try to support usfederally support us, we, in the States, who are trying to support our own State's laws. If you will unite with us in partnership instead of allowing people to use us against each other, we will not abuse this. You don't see it occurring now.
The CHAIRMAN. I appreciate your sincerity. Obviously this is something you spend a great deal of time on. But you hit on a point that is a concern to us. I mean, we are the ones that do make the laws and it is so much of a concern to me, and I am presuming my other 434 colleagues, that we also want to be very careful that if there is an intent, that we don't throw an umbrella over a lot of unintended consequences that can have other devastating impacts and implications. And that is why my natural tendency is to sort of try to fare it out or root out, if I might. What might we be casting this net over that there was never an intent to do it, but the law, given the fact that that is what it is that is prosecuted or not, can bring those into this. And being very cautious, going down that path, is something that is very important to us. Mr. Pacelle.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PACELLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I do just want to emphasize the point just for clarification purposes. You are absolutely right. It is a natural response. It is a social behavior that exists. What we are talking about with the State laws is instigating animals to fight. And let us make no mistake about it, there are industries with people organizing these activities devoted to fighting animals because they want to watch them fight and they gamble illegally on the fighting activities.
They specifically breed birds for aggression. They often drug them to heighten their aggression. They attach knives or ice picks to their legs. They place them in a pit and then force them to fight. Even if they are dying, they will suck the blood out of the lungs in order to re-pit the bird. They will blow on the back of their neck. And we have it documented time and time again, they fight these animals even when they don't want to fight any longer.
The CHAIRMAN. Right. I realize that is the case and the position of yourself and your organization in regard to it is humanity and it is not something that I think anyone would say is a great idea to do. There has been a number of mentions today. I think it is relevant because one does have to look at if the implications of what is combined there. But you are talking about, that that is the route then for obviously your children being brought in and illegal gambling. I think there was some mention of drugs and whatever else. And, yet, those are issues within themselves that have to be dealt with that parental responsibility and whether or not gambling is legal.
I think one time I was aware of Mr. John having a $2 nassau on a golf course. That is probably not legal. But those things associated around car racing and they associate around all sorts of other things. I want to make clear that I don't think thatif one has got a problem, you go after the problem and you don't try to correct that other problem by indirectly attaching it to some other. So I don't want to getfrom my own standpoint, want to get too far off into those areas in trying to make a determination about what process and procedure.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, Mr. Agler mentioned something that is very important to me in his concern. And that is, I grew up, as I have mentioned, around showing club calves and the lifestyle of those young people that are around that. If this has an implicationI don't know that it does. It was mentioned that it could have unintended consequences on some young people who maybe were raising birds for show purposes. I don't know that it is going to, but I want to make for sure that it is not. And that isso I don't have to explain exactly where I am going on this, but there is a whole lot of peripheral thoughts in this that drive me to want to look at this very, very carefully. And I apologize to my colleagues for running over. Mr. Peterson.
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, before you leave Mr. Chairman, on the closing the loophole between States, I think that if we are going to still allow exports, but generally, if you are going to export, you got some kind of a license or some kind of documentation that you are exporting
The CHAIRMAN. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. PETERSON. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Does this bill call for export licenses?
Mr. PETERSON. No. But I am just saying that itgenerally to get into those other countries, you are going to have some evidence of exporting into those countries so it gives themI would like to ask those of you that are defending this in your Statesare you in favor of changing the law and making dogfighting legal?
Mr. BERRY. We don't associate
Mr. PETERSON. What is the difference?
Mr. BERRY. We don't associate the domestic animals with the farm animals. And, no.
Mr. PETERSON. Well, what is the difference between dog fighting and chicken fighting?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERRY. I have no idea. Personally, I don't fight
Mr. PETERSON. Well, why should we have a law that is clearly specific in that case and why should there be an exemption for chickens?
Mr. BERRY. Because that happens to be a part of agriculture.
We have testimonials here from Florida, from the State of Oklahoma Agriculture Department. This is a tremendous investment in our agricultural community. Domestic dogswe don't have any
Mr. PETERSON. But, I mean
Mr. BERRY. We are not talking about dogs. We are talking about the gamefowl industry, Mr. Peterson.
Mr. PETERSON. Well, I understand that.
Mr. BERRY. OK.
Mr. PETERSON. But dog breeding is a big business. It is a huge business. I would argue there is probably more money involved in that than there is gamefowl breeding. All of these arguments that somehow or another you are going to destroy your industry with this law, it has been applied to dogs and it has not been a problem.
Dogs are shipped. The illegal fighting still goes on and we still got problems with it.
Mr. BERRY. Mr. Peterson, the Humane Society uses smoke and mirrors to accomplish their goals. When this bill, if it was to ever pass
Mr. PETERSON. Well, that is enough of that.
Mr. BERRY. Mr. Peterson, ifOK. I am trying to make a point.
If this bill passes, there will be another one come through the door next year.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. I will guarantee you there will not be another one from this Member. I have got more dead animals on my wall than anybody in this Congress, except for Don Young.
Mr. BERRY. I am talking about bills that you will face, sir, to do with the rest of the animal industry that the Humane Society wants to do away with. They wantif they are going to
Mr. PETERSON. Well, this is not about the Humane Society's agenda. I did not put this bill in because of the Humane Society.
Mr. BERRY. OK.
Mr. PETERSON. I put this bill in because of what I believe in.
Mr. BERRY. OK. If that is the case, let me ask you this
Mr. PETERSON. If you want to have an argument, have it with me, not with
Mr. BERRY. No.
Mr. COOKSEY [presiding]. Let me tell you
Mr. BERRY. I am not
Mr. COOKSEY. We need to stay on track.
Mr. PETERSON. I would like to call Mr. DeHaven from the USDA. Is he here? It is ironic that we had all this discussion. Now, these are the people that actually have to make the statute work. And so I would like to ask you, Mr. DeHaven, you know about some of this testimony. Specifically, the dog provisions have been in place since 1986. Are we right that this has not driven them underground and the dogs are still being able to ship. And could you just clarify some of what you heard?
Mr. DEHAVEN. Yes. Representative Peterson, Mr. Chairman, I am Ron DeHaven. I am the Deputy Administrator for Animal Care, that unit within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA, responsible for administration and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. If I were to clarify one point, it would be that the presence of a game bird in interstate commerce would be no more a violation of the Animal Welfare Act, if this provision were to pass, than the presence of a pit bull or a fighting dog, a breed typically associated with fighting, would be a violation of the current regulation simply by being in interstate commerce.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There has to be proof that the movement was or is for the purpose of fighting before we can surpass the burden of proof necessary to show that the animals were being transported for violation. Typically, or historically, what has happened, there has been a fight and then retrospectively, through the investigation, we proved that one or more of the animals was moved in interstate commerce and, therefore, a violation. But the mere presence of the animal in interstate commerce, in and of itself, would not be a violation of the law.
Mr. PETERSON. But generally the dogfighting provision that has been in place in 1976 has not prohibited the movement of dogs or driven the industry underground.
Mr. DEHAVEN. I would submit that dog trials are more prevalent today than they have been in the past. There are certainly no indication that the transport of dogs for the purpose of purebred dog shows has been, in any way, inhibited by the current legislation.
Mr. PETERSON. Do you think, as a person that is going to administer this law, that there is going to be much of a difference as it relates to the chicken-fighting industry, if we pass this?
Mr. DEHAVEN. I don't anticipate that there would be a great deal of difference at all. Again, we would have to have that burden of proof that the animals were being moved or had been moved for the purpose of fighting. That is a very high burden of proof that is necessary. And, again, just by virtue of being in transport would not be a violation. We would have to be able to prove that the animals had fought or were being transported for that purpose. Very difficult burden of proof.
Mr. PETERSON. So you are not going to go in and have a helicopter and drop in on people or stop birds at the airport just because they are a certain kind of a bird or any of that kind of stuff. You are not doing that with dogs. You are not going to do it with chickens.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEHAVEN. That would be correct. We don't have the resources nor the inclination to do so.
Mr. PETERSON. OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PERDUE. Congressman, if I may, may I respond?
The CHAIRMAN [presiding]. Very quickly, please.
Mr. PERDUE. OK. Very quickly, with respect to the issue of dogfighting, it is outlawed in all 50 States. The States, because of their local government's choices, are able to do that. In all 50 States of this United States, dogfighting is outlawed.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee needs to be aware, we havethere is a vote on now. There will be additional votes following that are going to consume probably, altogether with walking time, from 45 minutes to an hour. Are there members who have pertinent burning questions that they feel we must come back for?
Mr. RILEY. If I could get a quick question now?
The CHAIRMAN. You may get a quick question now and then we can excuse the panel.
Mr. RILEY. One of you gentlemen, a moment ago, said that you raised birds for 35 or 40 years and never fought them. I forgot which one it was.
Mr. PERDUE. It was over about an 8-year period when I was very young. My father and Iand we never fought any.
Mr. RILEY. How do you hold someone responsible for shipping a bird interstate for what the ultimate use of that bird is going to be? I don't know how you do that.
Mr. PERDUE. I don't know that we can, sir. And the analogy I would make is that many millions of dollars are spent in this country, billions every year, overseas with companies that do some very damaging things to children and, yet, we still do that.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. Well, that is not relevant.
Mr. PERDUE. Right. But, again to answer your question, I don't know.
Mr. RILEY. I don't know how that we can get to the point that if you sell them over the Internet, if you sell them through a trade magazine or whatever, that the person who sells that bird ultimately is going to be responsible for how that product is used.
Mr. PERDUE. Exactly, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Now, I don't agree with cockfighting. I have a real problem with it. Alabama does not allow it. But places like Louisiana, who do, or Florida, you have the option to go to your State legislature and ask them to prohibit the ability to raise them. And I think we are going down a dangerous path when we hold you responsible for something that someone else does with your product.
Mr. PERDUE. Exactly so, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. One of the things I think, and I appreciate the gentleman's brevity, that we need to look at and need to question is thein fact, that probably in the case of dogs, not many of those are shipped through the mail. Apparently the Postal Service is a large conveyor of birds, of chickensis to try to understand what the response would be from the Postal Service in regards to this and whether or notwhat kind of an impact that that might have. We will try to ascertain that information.
I appreciate the indulgence of the witnesses and your participation here today. Without objection, the record is open for 10 days to receive additional material and supplementary written responses from witnesses, to any questions posed by members. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the committee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Testimony of Chuck Berry
Good morning Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. My name is Chuck Berry. I am the president of the Oklahoma Animal Coalition. Today I am representing both the OAC and the American Animal Husbandry Coalition. The Oklahoma Animal Coalition has in excess of 14,000 members and we are among the largest associations of our kind in the Nation. Our members come from all walks of life in Oklahoma and are interested in many different aspects of animal ventures. This includes rodeo, hunting, farmers, ranchers, draft horse breeders and fishing and game bird fans. I appreciate the time you have taken from your busy schedule to listen to all viewpoints on this issue.
Mr. Chairman, I ask that my written remarks be submitted for the record and I will attempt to summarize them in the few minutes allotted.
I am here today to object to the passage of H.R. 1275. This bill is injurious to thousands of people and can affect the livelihoods of the ranchers and farmers that raise game birds on a fulltime and part-time basis. It is a law that is unnecessary and overrides State law to a point that many law abiding Americans would be turned into criminals overnight.
Mr. Chairman, the game fowl industry is one of the largest in the State of Oklahoma. According to Ralph Duncan, poultry program coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, and the ''game chicken industry is a $100 million dollar agriculture and tourist business in Oklahoma.'' Dr. Burke L. Healey, DVM, the Director of Animal Industry Services in the State of Oklahoma supports this points in a September 7 letter to the committee when he states ''the game fowl industry is significant to Oklahoma's economy. There are millions of dollars pumped into the State through the retail sales to other States and to other countries.'' He looks into the future with the statement ''This would pertain to horses, dogs, cattle, rodeo stock, etc. in crossing State lines for various purposes.''
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The impact on the State of Oklahoma comes in many facets. First we have the sales of the birds to buyers, both in other States and in other countries. We estimate that the total sales of birds are in the neighborhood of $40 million in the State of Oklahoma. This is income directly to the breeders. Second is the sale of feed and supplies to the bird raisers. This amounts to tens of millions of dollars in Oklahoma. Mr. Mark A. Urbanosky, president of American Superior Feeds has written to the Congress on this issue. He states ''We estimate the annual retail of the feed sold in Oklahoma alone by all feed companies for game fowl to be around 20 million dollars per year.'' The third effect on the economy comes through the use of what I will call secondary dollars. The people involved in the game bird industry travel to testing facilities located through out Oklahoma. They stay in motels, eat in restaurants, support other merchants in the host towns and in general add to the local economy. These establishments in turn hire people to work. In Roland, OK the number of motels far exceeds what a small town of that size should have. There are additional eating establishments in place, all for the purpose of feeding those involved in the game bird industry.
Mr. Chairman, I want to turn the committee's attention to another important aspect of this issue. I am speaking about the health and safety of the entire poultry industry. The best way to make this point is to quote a letter from Dr. Gene Eskew, staff veterinarian at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. Dr. Eskew states ''An equally important concern to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture is the present health surveillance provided to the commercial poultry industry by the testing requirements of game fowl for movement and exhibition ''Disease surveillance of both the commercial and game fowl industry has allowed our State to attain and maintain a pullorum-typhoid free status since 1986. Both of these industries are steadfast participants in the National Poultry Improvement Plan, which is now and always has been an industry driven voluntary plan.'' It is our belief that prohibition of an honest, straightforward, family enterprise would only encourage the dishonest, unscrupulous activities of others, which could compromise the health surveillance progress which has been made with the cooperation of this industry.''
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is no doubt in my mind that people will continue to raise game fowl if this bill is passed. The legitimate farmers will be put out of business, but the unscrupulous entrepreneur will find a way to raise the birds and these birds will not be inspected by the State Agriculture Departments. This threatens the entire poultry population of this Nation.
Mr. Chairman, much has been made by the opponents of the game bird industry. They describe the participants as unsavory, criminal and in some cases drug users. They do this without any real knowledge of the families that have been involved in the game bird industry for generations. I want to take moment and describe a few of the game bird people from Oklahoma.
First there is myself. I am a homebuilder by profession and I raise game birds as a sideline and avocation. I raise about 1000 birds a year and sell between 200250 per year. I sell these birds to customers in the Philippines and in Mexico. In a normal year my gross sales are about $32,000 and my expenses are about $17,000, leaving me with a net of approximately $15,000 per year. The income I produce off my birds is generally plowed back into either the birds or my home building business. As you know, the home building business is cyclical and there are some years when the market is just not sufficient to make a strong profit, if one at all. I am like hundreds of others who raise birds on a part-time basis, but many others do it full time.
Shirley Dade is a grandmother and widow in Oklahoma. Shirley raises about 1,500 chicks each year. This is her only source of income. She ships birds to the Philippines, Malaysia, Ireland, Guam, Saipan, El Salvador, Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. In addition she sells birds to many game bird fans here in the United States. Her family has been involved in the game bird industry for several generations. Mr. Chairman, here is a picture of Shirley. Does she look like a criminal?
Grady Fields is a 74-year-old retired farmer. Grady has been raising birds almost all his life. At this point in his life it is the difference between poverty and a comfortable living. In 1998 Grady had sales totaling $18,657 and expenses of $13,103, leaving him with a net profit of $5,554. This may not seem like a lot to some, but to Grady this, added to his social security, keeps him going. In addition, Grady stays active and healthy taking care of his birds. I don't want anyone to think that this is not hard work. Raising birds is hard work and takes a lot of time. I have a letter from Grady's accountant certifying these figures and ask that it be made part of the record.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As I have stated, many people raise the birds full time and operate large farms. Such an example would be Lenny and Lisa Graves. They have over $500,000 invested in their birds and sell as many as 1,200 birds a year. Their customers are all over the world. This is their livelihood. This is what they do for a living. It is a legal and honorable profession.
Dink Fair is another farmer in Oklahoma that raises the birds full time. His feed bill for the birds exceeds $39,000 per year. His gross is well over $200,000. Dink buys a couple thousand boxes each year to ship his birds. These boxes are produced locally by others who make their living off the game bird industry. His shipping costs alone exceed $12,000 per year.
My last example is the Foster Farm. Operated by the Foster family, this farm is located in Coweta, OK. The Foster farm raises over 4,000 chicks per year. They sell over 1,000 birds per year and have tens of thousands of dollars in feed and other expenses. This is money that rolls through the economy of Coweta several times.
Mr. Chairman, lets not fool ourselves. The intent of this legislation is to outlaw the game bird industry and to eliminate the species. In his floor statement introducing the bill in the United States Senate Senator Allard states ''this legislation will clarify that possession of fighting birds in any of the 47 States would then be illegal, as shipping them out for cockfighting purposes would be illegal.'' That would mean that a farmer raising birds in Arkansas, as there are many, would be in violation of the law just for possession of the bird.
The Humane Society of the United States tells everyone they are the rational people; they are not the extremists. This may sound good in front of a camera or to a reporter, but a more careful look at what they want gives us a clearer insight. These people would have us free all animals and to give them deified status. Michael W. Fox of the HSUS describes his favorite zoo exhibit: a large mirror behind some bars with the caption, ''Homo Sapiens, a dangerous predatorial tool-and weapon-making primate. Status: endangered by its own doing.''
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Pacelle, a panelist here today has some equally strong beliefs. In 1991 he stated, ''If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment we would.'' (''Impassioned Agitator'', Associated Press, December 30, 1991) His disdain for the agriculture community is well known. In 1993 he wrote, ''We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding. (Animal People, May 1993)
I don't need to go into the fringe groups in their associations. We have seen first hand this year some of the beliefs of PETA and others. There is no group they will not offend in their zeal. Ingrid Newkirk, one of the founders of PETA, once said ''Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but 6 billion broiler birds will die this year in slaughterhouses. (Washington Post, 1983) How do you get to a point where you compare the lives of those lost in the holocaust to those of a broiler chicken? She later said ''Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it.'' (Vogue, September 1989)
The real issue that we need to address here is the issue of compensation. The game bird growers in this Nation have made a substantial investment in the facilities they now have. They have done this with the full faith and knowledge that they are involved in a legal endeavor, and agriculture commodity that is like any other animal raising venture. They raise the birds for profit. I don't see any language in the bill that would compensate these American farmers for their loss. I don't see any of the groups supporting the bill suggesting that these hard working people be made whole for their loss. They don't care about that aspect of the harm this bill will do to thousands of people. If it inconvenienced an animal they would be seeking compensation immediately.
Mr. Chairman, this bill is not needed and is frivolous legislation. The States have the right to make and enforce laws as they apply to the agriculture communities that exist. Passage of this legislation this year and next year the drum beat will be on for their next cause. It might be rodeo, it might be hunting or fishing. Just remember, this is a group that drafted that bill that outlawed cockfighting in Missouri. When the bill was passed someone read the small print and found out there was a section that outlawed the use of anything with a spine for bait. Imagine how that sat with the bass fishing industry in Missouri. That part of the bill was repealed instantly. Enough is enough. Lets protect agriculture, not harm it. We should not be making criminals out of hard working American farmers just because someone doesn't like the product they produce.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Statement of Don Perdue
I am DonPerdue. I am a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates and a past president of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association (UGBA). UGBA is the Nation's largest association of breeders and fanciers of gamefowl. UGBA provides a forum for the exchange of better methods and ideas for the perpetuation and improvement of the various breeds of gamefowl, and encourages the improvement of marketing methods and cooperation with universities, State and Federal agencies, and any other public or private organizations seeking to control poultry diseases.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify before the committee today in opposition to H.R. 1275. As a gamefowl breeder, a representative of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association, and a State legislator, I ask the committee to oppose H.R. 1275 for the following reasons: (1) H.R. 1275 would have a significant economic impact on the lives of over a hundred thousand small family farmers and other rural residents who supplement their incomes by breeding roosters; (2) this legislation would result in a serious blow to the continuation of a significant piece of rural American culture and heritage; (3) H.R. 1275 would increase the threat to all poultry populations from disease and decrease the genetic diversity available to all poultry breeders; and (4) passage of H.R. 1275 into law would constitute a significant Federal intrusion into the rights of States to address this issue on the local level with proper consideration for local culture, values and history.
With respect to the plea of law enforcement which some of the proponents of this legislation have argued, I would suggest that the committee consider that those States making such a plea have additional options that they can pursue without Federal intrusion to reduce or eliminate any enforcement problems they may have, including amending their existing laws and/or increasing their enforcement capabilities and funding. While this legislation might help those States which suffer an enforcement problem, it would trample on the rights of those States which have not asked for any such assistance from the Federal Government.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Over the past several years this committee and numerous policy experts, historians, and social scientists have lamented the swift erosion of the small family farm and the impending loss of our rural agricultural lifestyle and culture across this country. For about a hundred thousand of these small family farmers the breeding and sale of gamefowl provides a real means of additional income that in many cases allows them to remain in operation.
Here is just one example of how a small gamefowl flock saved a small family farm. Bill Keller, past UGBA president and past director of public relations from Nampa, Idaho, was a diversified farmer in the 1980's raising alfalfa, sugar beets and beans. In the mid 1980's when the prices bottomed out on farm crops, Mr. Keller started raising and selling gamefowl to supplement his farm income. During this time, lending institutions were auctioning farms across Idaho to cover loans. Mr. Keller's supplemental income from his sale of gamefowl was the only thing that allowed him to stay in business and preserve his farm, even while he saw many of his neighbor's farms sold off to cover their debts. This not only happened in Idaho but across the Nation.
In fact, some very entrepreneurial farmers have learned how to remain in agriculture solely based on the breeding of gamefowl. Most of these large breeders rely on sales of birds to the large overseas markets in Puerto Rico, Latin America and Asia. In these countries gamefowl from the United States are prized for their excellent health and breeding.
One of our UGBA members, Mr. Jackie Rogers of Geraldine, AL created a breeding enterprise which has allowed him and his family to stay in agriculture when other agricultural businesses failed him. Like most of us, Mr. Rogers was born and raised on a farm and wished to continue in the life that his parents had taught him. In the late 1970's he, his wife and his father got into the cost-intensive hog business. Although Mr. Rogers is an excellent manager and businessman, hog farming failed for them after a few years without profits. Still working hard to stay in agriculture, they tried again in the 1980's by buying a cattle ranch and following the cow/calf route which best fit their area and climate. After a few years, however, they found the cattle business to be a lot like the hog business, very cost-intensive and difficult to weather the price fluctuations on very slim profit margins. Largely out of desperation, in the late 1980's they decided to turn to Jackie's hobby of raising a few gamefowl per year in order to generate some additional revenue and keep the farm open. Over a few years Jackie increased the size of his flock and pursued markets in Latin American and Asia. His gamefowl business grew quickly and soon superseded his cattle business, but still allowed him to keep his farm and raise his family. Since his first year of commercial sales of gamefowl in 1988, Mr. Rogers has turned a profit on his new business every yeara very rare feat for most farmers. In fact, he tells me that he has earned about $76,000 per year since 1990 from his gamefowl business alone.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Although we have been told that H.R. 1275 will not restrict sales of birds to overseas markets, in practice, since most breeders live in very rural areas and must transport their birds across State lines in order to then ship them overseas, we believe that our members will be subject to arrest and seizure and destruction of our birds, as has been demonstrated from the history of enforcement of the AWA to this point. Indeed, many local postal officials have already begun to refuse to ship gamefowl under the mistaken impression that H.R. 1275 has already been signed into law. While in theory this bill will not restrict international sale of gamefowl, we believe that in practice our breeders will be shut down.
Many supporters of this legislation would suggest to you that gamefowl breeding is a very small enterprise nationwide and that it has only a very inconsequential economic impact. The Senate Committee on Agriculture's report on the companion measure S. 345 (Report 106297) includes a Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate for compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. While CBO's estimate does recognize that this bill constitutes an unfunded private-sector mandate, they incorrectly estimated that the total sales of gamefowl per year in the United States is less than $100 million. In fact, we estimate that members of UGBA alone sell over $600 million worth of birds per year. Because UGBA members represent about one fourth of the total number of American breeders, we estimate that the total sales of gamefowl per year is at least three to four times that amount. Breeding of gamefowl does have an important economic impact to this country and an even more important impact to tens of thousands of rural Americans.
As this Nation moves away from its agricultural roots and corporate culture displaces traditional rural culture, more and more Americans do not understand sports like hunting and roosterfighting. In fact, both hunting and gamefowl breeding are ancient outgrowths of man's use and stewardship of animals. Although the sport of roosterfighting predates written history, it is likely that man simply provided a forum for roosters to undertake their process for natural selection which left only one rooster alive per flock. Similarly, the modern sport of hunting, which is in most (but not all) cases in this country no longer conducted for subsistence but rather for pleasure, and the sport of roosterfighting are important cultural and historical traditions of our rural agricultural society.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Most of our rural traditions are passed down from generation to generation. Our work ethic, religious practices, and recreational activities were taught to us by our parents and grandparents. We learned about life, work, faith and ourselves while enjoying the traditions passed down from our elders. Many of us feel that as we change our lives and culture and abandon what our parents and grandparents taught us we are slowly abandoning them as well. For the same reasons we hope to pass our cultural heritage on to our children. I'm sure that many of these same thoughts can be expressed with respect to other traditional sports which use animals like rodeo, horse racing, and all the various forms of hunting.
I imagine that Chairman Combest and the other members of the committee would be troubled if the regulation or prohibition of the sports involved in rodeo were controlled by persons who have no traditional connection to such a heritage. I would guess that the people of Texas would be very concerned if such authority over rodeo was given tosaythe government of the State of Connecticut. It is much the same with the breeding of gamefowl. Local standards and understanding of culture and values and heritage should rightfully dictate these decisions.
One of UGBA's most significant objectives is to promote safe breeding practices and to improve the participation of gamefowl breeders in Federal, State, and local initiatives and programs that improve or protect poultry health and guard against the spread of disease. Participation in these programs like USDA's National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) help to control infectious diseases which would otherwise decimate poultry flocks and would likely spread to commercial chicken flocks and into wild bird populations. Passage of H.R. 1275 would likely result in the unfortunate loss of many gamefowl breeders from these programs. Even with government assurances, many breeders are likely to shy away from divulging their participation in a sport that the Federal Government condemns to any Federal agent. Any discontinuation of proper disease controls will surely result in damage to commercial poultry farms and wildlife.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Passage of H.R. 1275 is also likely to reduce membership in UGBA and other smaller breeder's organizations. These organizations and their member's breeding activities provide an additional benefit to the Nation's poultry industry by keeping chicken populations genetically diverse. As our scientific community improves its ability to understand and manipulate genes and as the commercial poultry industry seeks to utilize these advances it will become increasingly important to have a large diverse poultry population.
Supporters of H.R. 1275 have argued that States need this legislation to help them enforce their own laws, and that by passing this bill Congress will only be impacting the citizens of the three States where roosterfighting is not illegal. The truth is that in 19 States, locally elected legislatures have approved laws that forbid cockfighting, but allow gamefowl fanciers to raise birds for the purpose of transporting them to compete in cockfights in States where the sport is legal. In virtually all of these States, the laws that ban cockfighting while sanctioning the rearing and possession of fighting fowl are the result of grassroots collaborative processes. These processes have, over time, successfully balanced the sensibilities of thosemostly urbaninterests that oppose many traditional sporting pastimes rooted in the countryside with the minority rights of gamefowl fanciers. With the addition of the three States that have made the choice (over and over again in some instances) to allow roosterfighting under the law, this proposed legislation is a Federal intrusion on a total of 22 States and the locally organized collaborative processes that they have endorsed.
Mr. Chariman, earlier this year this committee visited the State of Idaho, one of these 22 States whose laws would effectively be overturned by H.R. 1275. During that visit UGBA's affiliate gamefowl association in Idaho (IGBA) submitted a lengthy memorandum to the committee explaining their opposition to H.R. 1275. The Idaho Gamefowl Breeders Association wrote:
Allow us to amplify the important point that States should take pride of place in the regulation of the gamefowl industry, not the Federal Government. In 1995 our association sat down at the table with a committee formed to review statutes regulating animal welfare, including the ownership and general use of gamefowl in our State. Consensus was reached, and Idaho lawwhile banning cockfightingin no way restricts gamefowl breeding or transportation. Besides IGBA, the committee included representatives of the Idaho Humane Society , Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Board of Veterinary Medicine, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, members of the Idaho legislature, and a long list of animal user groups. IGBA played by the rules and worked within the system at the local level. Federal intrusion of the sort typified by H.R. 1275 will quickly kill local collaborative processes and place power in the hands of monied pressure groupsan outcome none of us wishes to see.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is important to understand that this sport is a long standing part of this Nation's rural cultural heritage and is likely to continue even if this bill becomes law. Passage of this bill would make Federal criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens who are in many cases using this heritage to fund the continued operation of their small family farms. Passage would force many of these breeders ''underground'' and away from participation in programs like the NPIP, and it would eliminate the ability of the States to address this issue in a way sensitive to local culture and values. I plead with this committee to reject this bill and protect the rights of our citizens to govern themselves.
Nearly 50 years ago my father first shared the gamefowl hobby with me. In the rural West Virginia county where I was raised there were no baseball fields, no basketball courts, no tennis or golf or any of the other passions fathers today may share with their sons. It is possible that, in my life, my father never threw a ball to me but, at a very young age he did hand me a game chicken with an admonition to take good care of it just as he would. Little did he know that, along with a genuine love for the roosters he would give me an appreciation for what it means to be chivvied unmercifully by a moneyed elite determined to show me how little my particular value system was worth . . . or prove me outlaw in the process. Little did he know that, one day, there would be many thousands like me...standing before you and pleading, simply, for the life they know.
I would like to thank you Mr. Chairman and this committee for allowing me to present my views and the views of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association.
Testimony of Sherry Schlueter
Greetings, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for this opportunity to testify before your committee regarding H.R. 1275, legislation that I believe shall help local law enforcement officers throughout America do their jobs more effectively.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am Lt. Sherry Schlueter of the Broward County Sheriff's Office, an agency of more than 4,100 sworn and non-sworn personnel. Broward County, which includes and surrounds the Greater Ft. Lauderdale area of south Florida, contains urban and rural agricultural regions which are home to more than 1 1/2 million people.
As a lieutenant of detectives, I supervise the Special Victims and Family Crimes Section, which is responsible for directing case investigations involving sex crimes, domestic violence, missing persons, and the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of animals, children, disabled adults, and the elderly. I have over 28 years of experience in investigations and law enforcement, and I regularly provide training to law enforcement officers and investigators in a number of specialized fields.
I do testify from personal observation and experience that the cockfighting industry is still rampant in Florida, despite the fact that our State made this crime a felony many years ago. Animal baiting and fighting is an organized, criminal enterprise. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people participate throughout the State, including children who are exposed to violence as a form of entertainment through this inherently cruel blood sport.
I have spent a good portion of my long career investigating crimes stemming directly from the cycle of violence. That is why I am particularly troubled when impressionable children are encouraged to witness intentionally staged aggressive confrontations, which many experts suggest may ultimately result in a general desensitization to violence and suffering. Equally alarming is the criminal atmosphere these children are invited into, where illegal gambling, firearm violations, illicit drug activity, probation violations, and other offenses and dangers are a common, often integral, part of the whole scene.
My office has devoted considerable resources over the years in an effort to combat blood sports. It is a difficult undertaking where often the majority of participants are already convicted felons. I have planned, executed, and supervised raids of many cockfighting enterprises. Arrests have been made and hundreds of unfortunate gamefowl have been confiscated, many of whom were severely injured, dying, or already dead from mortal wounds sustained in these orchestrated spectacles. Paraphernalia, including dubbing knives, artificial spurs and gaffs, sparring muffs, needles, syringes, blood clotting enhancers, steroids and stimulants, agitation devices, and other tools of the trade, have also been seized. Few, if any, of these items would ever be used for legitimate agricultural pursuits, nor would they be a part of any normal animal husbandry practices. No farmer or rancher would ever give such drugs to an animal destined for human consumption, nor would exhibitors of ''show'' birds need or make use of such drugs or dangerous devices. But it is appallingly common for these owners, trainers, ''cockers,'' to assert in explanation or defense, that they are only raising, and perhaps training, these birds for future shipment and sale to those in other States where no protective laws exist to prohibit cockfighting.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ironically, in order to prepare and train birds and to test or demonstrate their gameness and prowess, they must be sparred. That is a felony crime in my State, as it involves the intentional inciting of an animal, by a person, to attack another animal. But when the defense is raised that the birds were ''intended for interstate commerce purposes,'' not to be fought within the State, law enforcement's position can be weakened to the point that a prosecutor may be disinclined to initiate criminal charges, as the ''reasonable likelihood of conviction'' is significantly reduced.
The cockfighting industry is geared to operate in a clandestine manner, where the aficionados, participants, and spectators use covert tactics to avoid detection and practice subterfuge to thwart legislative directives. Law enforcement efforts to combat these crimes have been frustrated and compounded by a serious defect in Federal law. And so I am here today to ask Congress to fix that flaw which undermines dedicated attempts to uphold State laws, and which will unite Federal and State governments in a sort of partnership against those who would use us against one another.
This is a simple and straightforward bill which would see birds treated and protected the same as dogs have been for more than 25 years under Federal law.
H.R. 1275 will not stop cockfighting in Florida, nor in any of the many other States which have tried to keep this objectionable activity outside of their borders. But it will remove a loophole that has made it harder for us to successfully fight the good fight, and win.
Statement of Wayne Pacelle
Thank you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to testify before the House Committee on Agriculture in support of H.R. 1275. I am Wayne Pacelle, senior vice-president for communications and government affairs for The Humane Society of the United States, the Nation's largest animal protection organization with more than 7 million members and constituents in the United States. One of every 40 Americans is a member of The HSUS. I deliver this testimony on behalf of my organization and the American Humane Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Doris Day Animal League, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, and The Fund for Animals, collectively representing more than 10 million constituents. The HSUS has worked to combat animal fighting since our organization's inception in 1954, conducts animal fighting workshops for law enforcement, publishes an animal fighting manual for law enforcement personnel, and has worked with dozens of law enforcement agencies to raid illegal cockfights. Our investigators have been undercover at more than 100 cockfights throughout the Nation, documenting animal abuse, gambling, and other illegal conduct.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank Rep. Collin Peterson, and also Rep. Joe Scarborough, for introducing this legislation and helping to build such broad congressional and constituent support for it. This legislation amends section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act by striking subsection (d), which allows for the shipment of birds from States where cockfighting is illegal to any State where it is allowed. The Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture marked up and approved H.R. 1275 and added a new subsection to section 26 that clarifies that the legislation would restrict only the shipment of birds in animal fighting ventures, not the shipment of birds for show, food, or other agricultural purposes. The HSUS, and Representatives Peterson and Scarborough, supported the subcommittee's amendment. Just as the prohibition on the interstate shipment of dogs for fighting has not impeded the movement of dogs for shows or other purposes, the closing of this loophole will not interrupt the shipment of birds for purposes other than animal fighting.
The HSUS supports H.R. 1275 as reported by the subcommittee and urges this committee to approve it and send it to the House floor for final passage during the 106th Congress. In 1976, the House overwhelmingly passed amendments to the Animal Welfare Act to bar any interstate shipment of fighting birds (by a vote of 28976). The Senate bill did not, however, include this provision, and the final legislation, crafted by a conference committee, retained the anti-cockfighting language, but created the loophole subsection (d)at issue here today. With three additional States having banned cockfighting since 1976, and with public attitudes more firmly cemented against animal fighting than ever, it is time to close this loophole.
Support for H.R. 1275 is broad and bi-partisan, with more than 190 House cosponsors, including a substantial number of members of this committee on both sides of the chairman's seat. The companion bill, S. 345, introduced by Senator Wayne Allarda one-time member of this committee and the Congress's only veterinarianhas 60 cosponsors and passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture on March 2 by voice vote. These bills have been endorsed by every major humane organization in the country, more than 50 local and State law enforcement agencies, several State agriculture departments, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is the enforcement agency for all provisions of the Animal Welfare Act. In a May 27, 1999 letter to Agriculture Chairman Larry Combest, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman stated, ''This loophole should be closed, and we fully support the intent of H.R. 1275 to prohibit any and all interstate movements of live birds for fighting purposes.'' The only groups opposed to the legislation, to my knowledge, are organizations directly engaged in cockfighting activities or their promotion.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While there is spirited debate in society about what constitutes proper treatment of animals, the debate over the propriety of animal fighting has largely been settled. Americans oppose dogfighting and cockfighting, and they want the activities outlawed and eradicated. A survey by Penn & Schoen, in a nationwide sample of the electorate in 1997, revealed that 78 percent of Americans want cockfighting banned everywhere.
Penn & Schoen's research findings are supported by the results of recent ballot initiatives in States once perceived to be strongholds of cockfighting activity. In November 1998, voters in Arizona, with a 68 percent majority, outlawed cockfighting and imposed felony-level penalties on those who practice it. Similarly, in Missouri, voters approved a 1998 initiative to ban cockfighting and impose felony-level penalties with a 63 percent majority.
In Oklahoma, one of the three States to allow cockfighting, reputable polls conducted separately for the Tulsa World and the Daily Oklahoman indicate that two-thirds of voters support a State ban on cockfighting along with felony-level penalties. Citizens have gathered signatures in that State to place the measure on a statewide ballot for a vote of the people.
There are 47 States that ban cockfighting, with 20 States making it a felony offense to engage in cockfights. It is a misdemeanor in most States to attend a cockfight. Massachusetts was the first State to ban cockfighting in 1831, and a majority of States banned the activity during the 19th century, indicating that this activity offended basic American sensibilities relating to cruelty to animals more than a century ago. Social concerns over cockfighting, and quick action in newly formed States to ban it by statute, demonstrated that cockfighting was viewed as barbaric even during a period in our history when broader social concern about animal cruelty had not yet developed. Several State cockfighting bans predated the incorporation of the first humane organization in the United States in 1866. In fact, the first Continental Congress, in 1774, included in its legislative agenda a recommendation for a colonial ban on cockfighting.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Cockfighting remains legal only in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico. There are nine counties in New Mexico that ban cockfighting, and there is an active move in Oklahoma to ban it statewide, as mentioned above. The legal havens for this gruesome sport are shrinking and becoming even more isolated as each new election cycle is completed.
Despite its widespread illegality, cockfighting remains a major industry in the United States, with cockfighters clandestinely orchestrating fights in all 50 States. There are three nationally circulated pro-cockfighting magazinesGrit & Steel, The Feathered Warrior, and The Gamecockthat collectively have more than 20,000 subscribers. In addition, there are dozens of web sites devoted to cockfighting enthusiasts. A website called The Pitmaster has a discussion group that promotes cockfights, rails against law enforcement and humane advocates, and contains other colorful commentary on the subject.
Cockfighting is a practice engaged in by Caucasians, Hispanics, Filipinos, and those of other ethnic backgrounds. It is, however, a practice not widely supported in any community. There is a perception, for instance, that Hispanics as a group support cockfighting. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Arizona, a poll conducted prior to the vote on the initiative revealed that Hispanic opposition to cockfighting was greater than Caucasian opposition, with 90 percent of Hispanics opposing the practice and 88 percent of Caucasians opposing it.
Cockfighting generates millions of dollars in unreported income every year. Illegal gambling accounts for a large percentage of this money. In Columbia County, OR in 1989, State police seized $90,000 during a raid on a large cockfighting derby, and, in Sutter County, California, authorities seized $31,599 in cash along with an assault rifle and drug paraphernalia during a 1992 raid on a cockfight. In Vinton County, Ohio, in 1991, law enforcement authorities cited 400 people and seized 700 fighting cocks during simultaneous raids on two locations which drew spectators and participants from as far away as California and Canada. Law enforcement officials estimated the prize money between $30,000 and $50,000 with thousands more bet on the side. Just this year, major cockfighting busts across the country included a New Year's Day raid in Philadelphia, PA where police confiscated $11,000 in cash, and a Comal County, TX raid in May that yielded more than $30,000 in cash.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are variations in the structure of gambling at cockfights depending on the type of fight being staged (derbies, tournaments, mains, hacks, et cetera) and local preferences. Generally, there are three ways in which money changes hands at a cockfighting derby, which is the most popular type of organized cockfighting event in the U.S. today. In a derby, a number of cockers pay a predetermined entry fee to enter a preset number of cocks, usually from four to twelve. Depending upon the rules, the cocks are usually matched within 2 to 3 ounces of each other and are fought round-robin style. The cocker whose fowl wins the most fights in a derby wins the purse, which consists of all the entry fees of all the derby participants. This can easily amount to thousands of dollars since there may be more than 30 cockers entered in a derby, each paying from several hundred to more than a thousand dollars in entry fees and options for each day's events. In the event of a tie, the purse is split among the winners. Sometimes the purse is divided among the first-place and second-place winners.
The second and most visible form of gambling at cockfights are the side bets, which are made in the same manner as those at a dogfight. Side bets frequently involve odds, and betting will continue throughout much of the actual fight, with the odds shifting as it becomes apparent that one of the cocks is injured or dying. The two opposing owners of the cocks in a match will sometimes agree to a side bet on their own birds as well. A third form of gambling at some cockfights involves a type of lottery based on a number arbitrarily given to each cockfighter when the entry fee is paid. The numbers are then auctioned off to the highest bidders and the money goes into a separate pot before the start of the first fight. The buyer of the number assigned to the cockfighter who wins the derby wins the lottery.
Aside from the gambling, the sponsor/promoter derives income from admission fees. Spectators may be charged from $10 to more than $100 each depending on the number of fights scheduled and the quality of the combatants. Admittance to many cockfighting arenas requires a paid membership with a particular game club and/or a current membership with a State gamefowl breeders association. Investigations have revealed that some gamefowl associations receive a portion of monies collected at the gate to illegal cockfights (still to be answered is whether such illegal activities are the primary source of income for most of these associations).
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Other individuals profit from the sale of related paraphernalia such as: vitamins, drugs, and veterinary supplies (syringes, needles, suture kits, et cetera); training supplies/equipment (sparring muffs, weight scales, published training programs, known as ''keeps,'' et cetera); transport cages/crates; cockfighting implements (gaffs, slashers, mounting blocks, etc., which are considered contraband in many States); and pit supplies (match/score sheets, combat rule books, et cetera).
Gamefowl (ranging from $75 to more than $300 for a single battle cock, and from $150 to more than $1,000 for brood trios) and fertilized eggs (ranging from $25 to more than $65) are additional sources of income. Prices may vary greatly depending upon breeding, pit performance, and geographical area. Most advertising of paraphernalia and animals by individuals is accomplished through industry magazines and increasingly via the Internet.
Not only is cockfighting barbaric and inhumane, but there is overwhelming evidence that it is frequently linked to other crimes and violencepart of a cycle of violence. In addition to illegal gambling, the presence of illicit drugs and weapons at animal fighting contests is common. According to a U.S. Attorney and drug enforcement agents, major drug networks involving marijuana and methamphetamine trafficking have been tied directly to cockfighting in several States. Raids on cockfighting operations have resulted in the seizure of large-scale marijuana operations and clandestine labs. Sheriff's deputies seized 27 guns, assault-type weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition during a raid on a cockfight in San Luis Obispo County, CA in 1992. Violence associated with organized cockfights has also increased, including a gang rape and at least ten homicides around the country since 1987. Just a month after Senator Allard introduced S. 345, there were three men killed execution-style in Adams County, CO. Scattered amidst the dead people were the remains of several fighting cocks. Law enforcement personnel suspect it was a case of unpaid gambling debts coming home to roost in a particularly macabre way. I have attached to this testimony dozens of news clips that document illegal weapons possession, gambling, and drug use associated with cockfighting.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A particularly disturbing aspect of cockfighting is the increasingly common presence of young children at these spectacles. Children as young as 9 years old have been observed making wagers and acting as runners for bettors at cockfighting clubs. During the raid in Sutter County, two young children were abandoned at the side of the arena by the adults who had brought them to the cockfights. In another California case, a mother of a 6-year-old boy was assaulted by her husband when she refused to allow him to take their son to a cockfight. He was subsequently arrested for spousal abuse and possession of gamecocks for fighting purposes and illegal paraphernalia.
In 1976when the Congress last examined this subjectcockfighting was allowed in six States. Now that three of these States have recently banned the practiceand Oklahoma is poised to followand now that experience has demonstrated to us that the Federal loophole actively undermines enforcement of State bans against cockfighting, it is time for the Congress to make a change in the law to lift the smokescreen that cockfighters hide behind.
Let me emphasize that The HSUS and other backers of this legislation are not dropping the issue of animal fighting into the lap of the Federal Government. The anti-animal fighting provisions of the Animal Welfare Act have been on the books for a quarter century, and there has not, to my knowledge, been any active move to weaken or eliminate these provisions. H.R. 1275 proposes a fine-tuning of Federal law, largely in response to local and State law agencies' concerns about the impact of the loophole in undermining enforcement efforts. Current law already forbids shipment of fighting birds from States where cockfighting is legal or illegal to any State where it is illegal. It is illegal, for instance, to ship birds from Arkansas to Alabama or from Arizona to California.
It is a myth to think that there are two separate worlds in the cockfighting sphere: breeders and fighters. The two activities are as entwined as strands of DNA, bound and wrapped together so tightly that it would be almost impossible to unravel them.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The people who raise and fight birds are certainly devoted to their pursuit. In fact, some have likened it to an addiction. Although not all cockfighters are involved in breeding birds, everybody who breeds battle cocks is involved in fighting birds. Not only are breeders the primary fighters of birds, but the very process of raising fighting birds involves sparring (training fights conducted with padded muffs). Before a bird goes into the pit for the first time, equipped with gaffs or knives on his legs, he has been involved in training fights with other birds. These ''training fights'' are illegal in all of the States that prohibit cockfights.
It is wrong for cockfighting apologists to suggest that gamefowl breederswhether the United Gamefowl Breeders Association or State associationsengage in legitimate agricultural activities. We do not consider the rearing of birds for fighting to be a legitimate agriculture enterprise, just as we do not consider the rearing of dogs for fighting or the growing of marijuana to be legitimate agriculture operations. Farmers grow or raise food or fiber for legitimate social purposes, such as feeding or clothing people. It is unacceptable to raise animals simply so that they can fight to the death. While rearing animals for these purposes may bring profit to some, it brings them disrepute. It is unfortunate that cockfighters try to trade on the good reputation of farmers by attempting to associate themselves with normal agricultural practices and production methods.
What's more, the dozens of ''gamefowl breeders associations'' are at the core of the illegal cockfighting industry. Please don't be duped by their argument that there are separate spheres: breeders and fighters. The process of raising birds involves fighting them. And the people who profit from the sale of the birds are usually the most devoted fighting enthusiasts; in fact, that is the primary way they market the quality and superiority of their birds.
For example, I mentioned earlier the raid in Vinton County, OH, where 400 individuals were cited. One individual cited was Ray Johnson, who owned the property where the cockfight occurred. Mr. Johnson was a board member of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association, the primary organization opposing H.R. 1275. Also cited at the raid was his wife, Sandra Johnson, who is a current spokesperson and director of administration for the UGBA. Mrs. Johnson has been oft-quoted in new stories relating to the Federal legislation we are examining today.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the Congress were to continue to sanction the sale of fighting birds, it would be as if Congress were to ban the use of narcotics, but to allow their production and sale. It may be bad to use drugs, the thinking might go, but it's acceptable to profit from the sale of narcotics. Just like the drug industry is rotten to its core, so is the cockfighting industrywhether it is the supply or demand side.
To offer another comparison, if there were one or two States that were hold-outs in banning dogfighting, would the Congress still allow the shipment of pit bulls for fighting from States where it was illegal to the remaining State or two where it was legal, thereby providing a base for illegitimate operations nationwide? As regards cockfighting, the Federal loophole in the Animal Welfare Act justifies the existence of the ''breeding'' operations, the magazine sales, the manufacture of knives and gaffs, the sale of strychnine and other drugs and stimulants used by cockfighters.
This legislation does not impose a national ban on cockfights. In fact, this legislation will not bar cockfights in any of the States where the practice is legal. The decision over the legal status of cockfighting will be reserved to the policymakers, and, ultimately, the people of the States. Nor will H.R. 1275 choke off cockfighting in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, which maintain extensive breeding operations and will have no difficulty supplying the in-state demand for fighting birds.
The primary effect of the passage of H.R. 1275 will be to help curb illegal cockfighting operations in the States where the practice is already outlawed. Cockfighters who possess fighting birds and paraphernalia now have a ready-made defense with law enforcement agents and personnel because of the Federal loophole. Assuming possession of fighting birds is consistent with State law, cockfighters who are illegally fighting in a State can claim they are possessing and training their birds for shipment.
Take the recent case in Palm Beach County, Florida. On March 17, 2000, the Palm Beach Post reported that ''A judge Wednesday dismissed a felony animal fighting charge against [Roberto Torres]. A prosecutor had accused the electrician of holding rooster fights at his home. . . . But Torres' attorney . . . argued Torres was just training roosters . . . for sale in other States where cockfighting is still legal.'' The Federal loophole places an undue burden on law enforcement personnel. It is time to close this loophole and eliminate a Federal smokescreen that aids and abets illegal cockfighters.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This legislation protects States' rights. If it were not aiding the States, it would not have agencies ranging from the Arkansas Sheriffs' Association to the Oregon Sheriffs' Association, from the Norfolk Police Department to the Los Angeles Sheriffs' Department actively supporting it. Law enforcement officials believe that the Federal loophole is detrimental to their enforcement efforts. As James Vermeersch, executive director of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association, wrote in January 1999 to his Senators, ''This loophole contributes to breeding operations in States that have outlawed this brutal activity, making law enforcement more complicated when illegal cockfighting is occurring. It is time to close this loophole.''
I want to knock down one last straw man. Cockfighters often note that past presidents engaged in cockfights. Even if past presidents had engaged in or refereed cockfights, their recreational pursuits should not serve as a guide to current conduct, given that social mores and values change over time. That said, the case for the cockfighting presidents is vastly overstated. I have attached documents from prominent presidential historians that contradict the very tenuous claims of cockfighting advocates to associate themselves and their conduct with past leaders of our country.
Cockfighting is a bloody and indefensible practice. Cockfighters breed birds for aggressive behavior, often pump them full of stimulants such as strychnine to heighten their aggression, inject them with blood-clotting agents so they can fight longer, strap razor-sharp knives or ice-pick-like gaffs to their legs, and place them in a pit to hack one another to the point of injury and death. Even when a bird is down and gravely wounded during a fight, the bird will be repitted until it is finally counted out and a winner is declared. Cockfighters will often suck the blood from the windpipe of a ''rattled'' bird in order to continue pitting him against his opponent. Once a bird is incapable of being revived, the handler collects or pays out the amount wagered and the bird (sometimes still barely alive) is tossed onto a heap of dead birds. This is animal cruelty for the purpose of amusement and it has no legitimate place in our society. The leading legislative body in the world should shut the door as tightly as it can on this practice and the industry that is responsible for it. Thank you for allowing me to testify today.
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Testimony of Clell Agler
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: My name is Clell Agler. I am from Ohio and am the chairman of the Legislative Committee of the American Poultry Association, which oversees the exhibition poultry industry. (Incidentally, it is the oldest livestock organization in the country, having been founded in 1873.) Thank you for providing the opportunity to receive my testimony today concerning H.R. 1275, the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act prohibiting interstate movement of live birds for fighting purposes.
I represent an organization of several thousand members involved in the breeding of exhibition poultry, which means showing at various events, such as county and State fairs and national poultry shows.
One concern I have with this amendment is that when birds are young and are chicks, it is impossible to identify an exhibition bird and a bird that may be used for fighting. How will these birds be identified, and how will the law be enforced? I am concerned that my members may be unduly penalized and questioned for something that is a legal enterprise for them. My members are from many walk of life: they are small family farmers with backyard flocks of chickens. Both parents and children show chickens, and we have to be cautious that these people are not singled out and harassed by whoever might be enforcing this law.
My other concern is that in February 1998 the Postal Rate Commission held hearings on postal rate changes; and at that time, across the Nation, poultry associations commented that the Postal Service was the only service available to send live adult birds or chicks. Currently, there is no other service except the Postal Service that ships adult birds or chicks. I have heard rumors that the Postal Service may stop accepting adult birds or chicks, which will greatly interfere with our small family farmers and backyard flocks and 4Hrs and FFArs who show poultry, because postal shipment is the only way that many of them are able to receive birds from other breeders around the United States. The transfer of show birds from owner to owner is normally by U.S. mail.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to bring to your attention that this is a very grave issue for those of us involved with showing and breeding birds, and it is a concern I bring before the House Agriculture Committee because of the ability for the Postal Service to affect all of us involved with showing poultry, which includes many young people across the Nation.
The final concern that I bring before the House Agriculture Committee is that currently game fowl breeders participate in the National Poultry Improvement Plan. How are we going to continue to diagnose and test for diseases that game fowl might carry, because now many participate in disease testing through the NPIP programs across the Nation. I am also concerned that passage of this amendment will drive this industry underground, and we will not be able to identify who they might be. This could jeopardize all poultry flocks throughout the Nation by exposing them to diseases that are not being monitored, because game fowl breeders will discontinue testing for poultry diseases.
The American Poultry Association and all local shows conducted under its aegis follow and support the National Poultry Improvement Plan and the regulations of all State agencies.
Thank you for allowing my testimony. I know I have perhaps raised more questions than I have given you solid testimony, but I believe my questions are legitimate and do directly affect small family farmers and young people across the Nation. I would respectfully ask that the House Agriculture Committee consider these questions and how they will be addressed, especially the Postal Service issue, so that the shipment of adult birds and chicks is not stopped. Disease control issues also must be dealt with before this amendment goes into effect. Thank you. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."