Goodlatte, Obenshain, and cockfighting

Brent Finnegan -- May 14th, 2007

In Maryland and North Carolina, cockfighting is a felony. In Virginia, cockfighting [for money] is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Congressman Bob Goodlatte voted for a bill that makes it a felony to transport animals across state borders for the purpose of fighting them. Bush recently signed the bill into federal law.

In yesterday’s Roanoke Times, Goodlatte called cockfighting “abhorrent,” and said, “It’s vicious to strap metal knives on the feet of birds and have them fight each other.”

In January, Senators Mark Obenshain and Emmett Hanger voted against a Virginia bill that would have made cockfighting a felony, and were dubbed part of “The Cockfighting Five.”

Video from Mecklenburg County raid:

Goodlatte said he thought Virginia legislators might take a fresh look at state law to see how it might work in conjunction with the federal version. “I think there’s room for further examination of the law in Virginia, but I leave that to Virginia legislators,” Goodlatte said. (from the Roanoke Times)

I’m aware of cockfights that take place in at least one location in Rockingham County.

25 Responses to “Goodlatte, Obenshain, and cockfighting”

  1. Reaganite says:

    I believe that cockfighting is legal in Virginia; gambling on cockfighting is a Class 3 misdemeanor. I think it would be a good idea for Virginia to make cockfighting illegal, but the federal bill is just another example of the overwhelming reach of the federal government. Do we really need the feds to pass more criminal laws in areas traditionally left to the states? Really, Mr. Goodlatte, shouldn’t the Congress be focusing your attention on national matters of some importance such as immigration, homeland security, etc.?

  2. MikeFus says:

    @Reaganite: You’re right – cockfighting is legal in VA as long as the fight is not “for money, prize or anything of value, or betting or wagering money or anything of value on the result of such fight”, and as long as no admission fee is charged for attendance. If any of these conditions exist, it’s a Class 3 misdemeanor. Attendance at dog fighting events is a Class 1 misdemeanor. (Reference: VA Code 3.1-796.125)

    I agree that cockfighting is abhorrent – forcing animals to fight is one of the lowest, most disgusting things a person can do to entertain themselves. It makes me sick to think that some people are entertained by that kind of thing.

    My first thought is, yeah – it should be a felony. Lock ’em up! But my question is, how does that play into the discussion that Ms. Roles (and others) have been having regarding crime, punishment, and the overcrowding and arguably detrimental effect of our prison system? If cockfighting is made a felony, wouldn’t that add to the problem? What other consequence of cockfighting (or dog fighting, etc) might be more effective at punishing and/or rehabilitating those who are convicted (if they can be rehabilitated, which is arguable)?

  3. finnegan says:

    Corrected. Thanks.

    how does that play into the discussion that Ms. Roles (and others) have been having regarding crime, punishment, and the overcrowding and arguably detrimental effect of our prison system?

    Good question, Mike.

  4. Daytonres says:

    If I am not mistaken, Obenshain didn’t vote for it because he was concerned about making more people felons. I have always thought those that break laws are the ones that should worry about making themselves felons.

    Mike’s thoughts are very interesting because while he says that animal fighting is “one of the lowest, most disgusting things a person can do to entertain themselves,” he’s not so sure we should make felons out of them due to defects in our prison system. Sorry mister animal killer, there’s no room at the jail so don’t worry about the charges against you. By the way, go ahead and keep your voting rights so you can vote for people that won’t make you a felon for the dispicable acts you enjoy.

    The Roman’s may have been on to something with the lions. Not only do you get rid of a criminal, but the admission fees for people to watch could pay for housing and rehabilitating the ones we deem fixable. Go Lions!

  5. MikeFus says:

    @Daytonres – I never said that I’m “not so sure we should make felons out of [animal fighters]”. I simply posed a question referring to the discussion in another post. I am absolutely not saying that those who abuse animals for entertainment should go unpunished, nor am I even saying that they shouldn’t be felons. Perhaps I should elaborate on my question: Once we’ve made cockfighting (and I would also suggest dogfighting) a felony, what should we do with someone who is convicted of these new felonies? Is putting them in prison the best way of punishing them? Is it the most effective way to rehabilitate them? Is it the best use of our tax money?

    I am by no means trying to make an argument to go easy on a convicted animal fighter. Perhaps there is a better, more creative way? Fine them to kingdom come, the proceeds of which will benefit the local SPCA. “Sentence” them to work (closely supervised, of course) at an animal rescue shelter for the amount of time they would have spent in prison. Make them clean up animal cages at a zoo. I don’t know the answer – I just raised the question.

  6. finnegan says:

    …Fine them to kingdom come, the proceeds of which will benefit the local SPCA. “Sentence” them to work (closely supervised, of course) at an animal rescue shelter for the amount of time they would have spent in prison…

    I’d say those are ideas at least worth considering. I’m not sure what the penalties are under current state law for the Class 3 misdemeanor charge.

  7. Barnabas says:

    Sentence them to Zoo.
    Or give legal custody to PETA.

  8. cook says:

    finnegan, a class 3 misdemeanor carries maximum fine of $500 and no possiblity of jail time.

  9. Yeah, give the money to the local SPCA, who kills more animals than, well, I think we all know how many animals the shelter kills.

    Aaron Cook/Reaganite for Commonwealth Attorney.

  10. finnegan says:

    I’ll go along with that C.A. statement, Dave.

  11. writergirl says:

    No Dave, I don’t know how many they kill. Do you have any facts?

  12. I believe the last time I heard a number it was around 2000/year, which was in 2002.

  13. Our shelter would likely get more money if it was a “no kill” animal shelter.

  14. Actually, I think the 2002 total was about 2,300…I didn’t add the numbers properly.

  15. writergirl says:

    It probably would get more money if it were no kill…but where do you think animals go once the no kill places are full. There simply isn’t enough room for all of the feral cats out there.

  16. cook says:

    dave, my advisors advise me that your endorsement in this thread just killed any chance i had in the upcoming; therefore, i hereby dissolve my campaign and vow to return the vast sums of money i have quietly collected to the donors. however, i can only speak for myself. i do not know what reaganite will do with his war chest: he may have already gambled it away.

    just don’t ask me what happened to my kids’ cat last week.

  17. Writergirl, Cat’s Cradle seems to have adopted a good policy of trying to snatch up the feral cats to sterilize them…there appear to be plenty of “no kill” shelters doing just fine around the country.

    Aaron, given your statement, perhaps I should heartily endorse Marsha?

    What happened to your kid’s cat last week?

  18. writergirl says:

    Dave, my mother works at the SPCA. She’ll tell you that far too many are put down. The thing about no-kill shelters is that eventually they reach their maximum and they have to direct people to places like the SPCA. Some of these animals come in too wild to adopt out. If you think for a minute that the people who work at the SPCA enjoy putting down the animals they put down, you are mistaken. I know for sure that all efforts are made to place an animal that is able to be placed. Until she started working there I thought taking an animal there was the kiss of death. I’ve learned an amazing amount about what they will try to do for an animal, and what others do to see to it that the majority that come through there at least have a shot at being adopted. My ex took my dog there and I was so scared he’d be put down. He was fixed but so high-spirited I thought no one would want him. He got a great home. I took a box full of kittens there once because some farmer had more than he wanted on his farm and he planned to toss them out his truck window. I’m pretty sure they got put down once at the SPCA, but at least it was a more humane death. If people were smarter with their animals this wouldn’t be a problem. Get them fixed! The spay-neuter clinic is very reasonable.

  19. Writergirl, you thought I was bashing the SPCA without actually knowing the numbers, didn’t you? :-)

  20. writergirl says:

    No, not at all. I just get sick of people bashing it when they don’t realize how hard it is on the people who work there.

  21. Reaganite says:


    As you are well aware, all of my “war chest” has been spent on whisky, whiskey, bourbon and mash! Well . . . some is going to AC with me, too.

  22. I still wanna know what happened to your kid’s car, cook.

  23. cook says:

    honestly, i didn’t know the cat was anywhere near my truck. it all went down pretty quickly: the spca would’ve been proud. not sure, however, if the family forum would’ve approved of my decision regarding the still-moving kitty-fetuses. but let me tell you, standing at the gravesite listening to the family recount their memories of pippa made me feel like michael corleone at the baptism of carlo’s baby.

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