Cockfighting board without any members as ban approaches

The federal ban on cockfighting took effect late in 2019 but the ban on transporting cockfighting birds across state and territorial lines has been in effect since 2007.
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Cockfighting on Guam has been a hot topic this week and according to former Cockpit License Board Chairman Earl Garrido, his term expired in March, leaving the organization with no members to oversee its mandate as the federal ban on cockfighting approaches.

In a phone interview, Garrido said his term as chairman of the board expired in March, and even then it was only a board consisting of himself and two other members.

The board has not had one single member since because everyone knew the federal ban was coming, Garrido said.

Though it’s not clear which federal agency will enforce the ban, it is confirmed that it is the lowest priority for local law enforcement.

Wayne Pacelle, one of the leaders of the Animal Wellness Foundation, was interviewed by NewsTalk K57’s Andrea Pellacani and he warned violators about the severity of the new cockfighting law.

“It doesn’t just prohibit organizing cockfights. It also prohibits participating in the fights. The handling of the animals. Owning animals for fight purposes. Attending a cockfight. Bringing a minor to a cockfight … every count can be up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine,” Pacelle said.

Meanwhile, Washington-based groups Animal Wellness Foundation and Animal Wellness Action also released topline polling data from a survey of Guam residents about animal cruelty, with the survey claiming to reveal deep and broad support for an upgrade of the territory’s anti-cruelty law and for the federal ban on cockfighting.

Pacelle also stressed the importance of the bill being socially integrated.

“It’s often a multi-agency thing. The feds do things on their own sometimes, so does the state. I think in this case, with what the senators have done, it’s going to rely on the feds until this idea gets more socialized,” Pacelle said.

All 50 states ban cockfighting, and the federal government last year enacted a comprehensive ban covering all the U.S. territories as well.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has already advised village mayors not to seek permission for cockfighting events at their festivals because the activity is forbidden under federal law.