By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
May 3, 2019
RALEIGH – It might be illegal already, but cockfighting and dogfighting contests are still being held across North Carolina. Children attend too. State lawmakers say that’s unacceptable and passed a bill this week which makes it a felony to bring a minor to a dog or cock fight.
Animal fighting can be big exhibitions that involve large sums of money. Law enforcement officials have documented strong connections between animal fighting, gambling, illegal drugs, and even child molestations by criminals involved in the cruel sport.
Monday, when the House Judiciary Committee took up the bill, HB 507 – Animal Fights/Criminalize Attendance of a Minor Act, Rep. Allen McNeill (R-Randolph), told the committee the top prize for a cockfight raided in his district was $40,000 that day. “Spectators had been charged $25 for admission,” said McNeill. “Seventy three people were arrested from ages 16-29. As many as 73 vehicles were towed, and two firearms and money was seized.”
Dog and cock fighting is a brutal and bloody form of entertainment that involves animal cruelty. These animals are often bred for the purpose of fighting. Cocks are armed with razor sharp blades on their feet. Dogs are pumped with drugs to make them more aggressive for killing.
According to proponents of the measure, cock fighters and dog fighters bring their children to these animal fights, needlessly exposing them to animal cruelty, violence, and other crimes. Children as young as 5 years of age have been known to attend.
Research shows that when children witness violence it has a negative impact on them. They are at higher risk for developing behavioral problems, academic failure, and delinquency. Exposure to animal abuse can have a prolonged impact on their emotional health and even foster an intergenerational cycle of violence and abuse.
Proponents of HB 507 asked Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, if he would lend his voice in support of the measure before the House Judiciary.
Rev. Creech agreed and told committee members:
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the committee,
“Christian tradition teaches that God made man to have dominion over the earth. In other words, God made mankind his vice-regent to rule over the creation – to be its steward – to tend it and care for it. And the Scriptures also teach that God made a covenant between himself and mankind and every living thing. In other words, we are to respect every living thing.
“Animals were not created as equals with man, who is unique in that he is made in God’s image. But the animal kingdom is God’s good provision for the human race. But the command for us to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, does not mean that we should use it in a wasteful or destructive manner.
“Dr. Richard Land, former President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and currently the President of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, someone who is both a friend and a mentor to me, has eloquently stated:
“‘We do not have the right to treat living things as inanimate objects. We do not have the right to cause needless pain for frivolous reasons such as entertainment.’
“He adds, ‘Cockfighting is a pornography of violence and people who watch it are going to be brutalized by it.’
“I would like to add to his remarks that few things in this world are more indicative of shallowness of character than to throw two animals together to rend and tear each other apart as a means of our enjoyment. This is, in my estimation, the sport of the Roman gladiator games by proxy of the animal world.
“It is cruel, barbarous, insensitive, calloused, and beneath us as stewards of the creation, to treat animals cheekily.
“I know it’s against the law already, but we need to strengthen our laws in this regard.
“The Christian Action League urges you to pass this bill. And even if you can amend it in some way, I hope you will do so to strengthen it all the more.”
Lawmakers did amend HB 507 when it reached the House floor by raising the age limit from 16 to 18, and making it a felony for any minor to attend a cock or dog fight. The legislation passed unanimously.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.