It would be illegal to watch a cockfight, to own cockfighting paraphernalia or to raise roosters for the purpose of fighting under a bill the Texas House tentatively approved tonight.
The bill would also expand existing animal cruelty penalties that apply to those who force roosters to fight. Under the measure, it would be a state jail felony to conduct a fight, to earn money from it, to permit the use of a location for it, or to sell any cockfighting paraphernalia.
Animal rights activists have advocated for the increased penalties since a year-and-a-half-long investigation by the Humane Society of the United States uncovered nearly two dozen active cockfighting rings throughout the state. The organization estimated what it found was only a fraction of the actual total. While it has long been a felony in Texas to make roosters fight, it is not illegal to raise fighting game cocks, to attend a cockfight or to possess cockfighting paraphernalia. Closing those loopholes, the organization said, would make it easier to shut down cockfighting rings.