May 14, 2014 — A recent political issue arose over the visit to a cockfight by U. S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin.
The resulting publicity brought cockfighting, which is illegal in Kentucky, back into the public eye.
We remain one of the few states where the so-called sport is only a misdemeanor, usually punishable by a fine.
As a result of lax enforcement, cockfighting in East Kentucky has become a thriving enterprise, according to federal investigators.
Roosters are outfitted with sharpened spurs and placed in a pit where they fight to the death in contests called “derbies.”
The Humane Society of the United States describes the blood sport as “barbaric.”
"Cockfighting is an extremely painful, bloody and deadly event," according to an affidavit filed in federal court. "Birds are stabbed, slashed open, eviscerated and partially decapitated. Birds that lose a match most often die."
The recent arrest of three men in Floyd County on federal charges related to cockfighting produced some startling statistics.
The cockfighting operation being investigated is known as the "Big Blue Sportsman's Club" and it is suspected of raking in as $1 million a year in various fees, including high stakes gambling.
Investigators described it thusly:
"The Big Blue pit in Kentucky is one of the largest, most organized and lucrative illegal cockfighting enterprises in the United States."
Cockfighters and gamblers came from as far away as Michigan and Florida and the club claimed 6,000 memberships.
Some rural politicians dismiss cockfighting as a harmless tradition.
But it is morally wrong on two fronts.
It results in indescribable cruelty to the birds involved.
It is an organized criminal activity involving illegal gambling and apparent tax evasion.
In our opinion, it is shameful that Kentucky law treats cockfighting as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
And even more so that some law enforcement agencies continue to look the other way.