Cockfighting is like legally defined obscenity: It has no redeeming social value.
Utah is one of just 15 states that does not prosecute this abominable practice as a felony. That legislative laxity invites cockfighters from neighboring states to Utah to indulge in this activity it cannot be called a sport. Training roosters to fight, often to the death, is barbaric, and the people who watch and cheer are not much better than animals themselves.
Cockfighting should be considered especially repugnant in Utah, headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which counsels its members against gambling. Because, aside from the brainless violence and blood, this activity is most associated with gambling. Utah is one of only two states in the nation that does not allow gambling in any form, and yet the lax law against cockfighting is the same as tolerating it.
All the evils the church and LDS lawmakers associate with gambling go right along with cockfighting.
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, will sponsor a bill in the legislative session that begins Tuesday to tighten cockfighting laws. It should pass if Utah wants to maintain its family-friendly and anti-gambling image.
Davis, the Senate minority leader, will also introduce a bill to restrict dog tethering and puppy sales.
Dog owners who keep the animals tied up for long periods outside are not only doing damage to the dogs but often cause a nuisance in their neighborhoods as the neglected dogs bark and whine excessively. Dogs kept tied outside with little attention from their owners and no socialization with other dogs often develop aggressive behaviors that can make them dangerous.
Humane Society Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt reports that dogs sometimes arrive at shelters with collar marks embedded deep in their necks and often have a hard time socializing with humans or other animals. Some cannot be rehabilitated and must be euthanized. The bill would reasonably restrict the time a dog could be tethered outside to 10 hours. Violations, a misdemeanor, would cost the owner $250.
Davis' bill would also prohibit people from selling puppies in store parking lots, on the street or in parks. People who buy these puppies on the spur of the moment often don't keep them; the animals sometimes carry disease; and there is no accountability. Dog owners should get their pets spayed or neutered to prevent puppies they don't want.
These bills are good for people as well as animals.