Don't Equate Cockfighting with Boxing: The Roosters Don't Have a Choice

Jed Mignano, Cuyahoga County’s chief humane officer, deserves a hearty round of applause for his tireless work to help stop cockfighting [“Chicken Wars,” July 4]. Thanks to Mr. Mignano’s persistence and compassion, fewer animals will suffer and die needlessly. Cockfighting is a barbaric blood sport that has no place in a civilized society. Unlike boxers -- who choose to participate -- roosters are not given a choice. They are usually tethered to overturned plastic barrels or small wire cages and pumped full of stimulants and blood-clotting drugs. Many birds have their feathers plucked, and their wattles and/or combs hacked off so other roosters can’t do it in the ring. Because roosters do not have sweat glands, the loss of these body parts deprives them of the ability to cool themselves. Most cockfighters slice off the birds’ natural spurs so that more deadly weapons can be strapped to their legs. The birds often must duel to the death, and if fighting wanes, handlers often pick the birds up and torment them to reignite the fighting frenzy. Even the winners suffer from broken wings and legs, punctured lungs, severed spinal cords, and gouged-out eyes. Cockfighting is bad news for both animals and humans. According to the National Chicken Council, cockfighting causes a “continuing hazard for the dissemination of animal diseases.” The chance of a bird-flu pandemic is only increased by cockfighting, which has been tied to at least eight cases of the disease. Illegally transported birds caused an outbreak of Exotic Newcastle disease epidemic in California in 2002. Heather Moore Senior Writer People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals