A recent police operation against an alleged cockfighting operation in Dallas has highlighted how people accused of animal cruelty can be dealt with in Texas,
Earlier this month, the SPCA of Texas and Dallas Police seized 360 live birds they claimed were being used for cockfighting, an illegal sport, CBS 21 reported.
The channel reported the SPCA took custody of 128 roosters, 183 chicks, and 49 hens. They also reported finding 28 dead birds. Several of the roosters were reported to be seriously injured.
The channel reported the live birds were taken to animal care centers in McKinney and Dallas where they will be evaluated and cared for until a civil custody hearing takes place.
They said birds were found in cages in a wooded area of south east Dallas. The chicks, hens, and roosters were found in massive, wire pens, according to reports. Police found wooden enclosures hidden in the trees with small, wire crates.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Unit will oversee an extensive criminal case. The TV station reported police wrote over 40 tickets to people who are accused of watching a cockfight. They are working on multiple charges against people who are accused of possessing cockfighting paraphernalia and/or roosters with the intent to fight. The offenses are Class A misdemeanors.
Animal cruelty crimes have become more serious in Texas in recent years. Cockfighting is a crime in all 50 U.S. states. In Texas, it is a felony to fight birds against another and/or to use property for cockfighting. The offense is punishable by up to two years in a state jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
Many other cockfighting-related offenses are misdemeanors. It is a Class A misdemeanor to possess, manufacture, or sell cockfighting paraphernalia. People who own or train a rooster with the intent to fight the bird face a Class A misdemeanor. Even being a spectator at a cockfight can land you with a Class C misdemeanor. It’s a federal crime to take part in the interstate or foreign transport of fighting animals.
Many of the offenses against animals that result in criminal convictions are against domestic pets such as dogs and cats.
Civil and criminal statutes in Texas prohibit the mistreatment of animals. The state has separate laws regarding livestock and non-livestock animals. Texas law defines as cruel punishment the torture of an animal, its abandonment, the failure to give it adequate food or water, fighting, or using an animal as bait.
A 2001 law known as “Loco’s Law” brought tougher penalties for animal cruelty in Texas. People found guilty of violating Loco’s Law face a maximum fine of $10,000 and could spend up to two years in prison. Loco’s Law was enacted as a reaction to a horrifying case of animal abuse in which a puppy’s eyes were gouged out. The puppy survived, but the case sparked a public outcry that prompted lawmakers to make animal cruelty a felony in Texas for the first time.