Judge recommends denying cockfighting ban lawsuit

BLOOD SPORT: Roosters are seen after a cockfight in 2017. The Guam Legislature has made enforcement of the cockfighting ban GovGuam’s lowest priority.  Reuters

Nine out of 10 Guamanians want local animal cruelty laws strengthened, and six out of 10 support the federal ban of cockfighting, according to a local survey.  

The Animal Wellness Foundation and Animal Wellness Action yesterday released results of a poll on animal cruelty and cockfighting. The federal law passed last December that makes cockfighting illegal goes into effect Dec. 20.

Market Research & Development Inc. conducted the poll, which included 400 residents, over a two-week period that ended Dec. 12. The poll indicated:

· About 89%, or nine out of 10 Guamanians, are concerned about the mistreatment of animals on Guam.

· About 90% believe animal cruelty laws on Guam should be strengthened.

· Only 7% of Guamanians have been to a cockfight in the last year.

· Roughly 21%, or two out of 10 Guamanians, favor cockfighting while 60% oppose it.

· About 52%, of residents are not aware of the federal ban on cockfighting, which is scheduled to go into effect next week.

· When it comes to the federal ban on cockfighting, 60% favor the ban and 25% oppose it.

“Our poll results reveal that Guamanians are concerned about animal cruelty on Guam in overwhelming numbers,” said Jay R. Merrill, president of Market Research & Development Inc. “Nearly everybody polled wants to see Guam’s animal cruelty laws strengthened. In addition, a solid majority oppose cockfighting and support the federal ban.”

“This poll should serve as a wake-up call to all of Guam’s political leaders,” noted Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action, a national organization promoting legal standards against cruelty. “The people of Guam don’t support staged fights between animals, and they are appalled by the idea that people attach knives to the roosters’ legs and watch them hack each other to death – all for our entertainment and for gambling.”

Meanwhile, a local animal cruelty bill introduced by Sen. Sabina Perez earlier this year has yet to have a public hearing.

Additionally, an amendment introduced Part I of Chapter XIII of the fiscal 2020 budget law stating "enforcement of the federal ban on cockfighting as enacted by the 2018 Farm Bill (U.S. Public Law 115-334) shall be the lowest priority of the government of Guam."

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero will not be enforcing the ban, according to Carlo Branch, the governor's policy director.

And in August, the Legislature, through Speaker Tina Muña Barnes’ office stated: "No input from the people of Guam was ever received. As a result, the Guam Legislature passed an amendment that would make spending local funds to enforce this unfunded mandate as the lowest priority for the government of Guam.”

Earlier this week, AWF and Animal Wellness Action announced a reward program to run for an indefinite time that provides a $2,500 reward for any individual who provides critical information that results in a successful federal prosecution of an individual or set of individuals who violate the federal law against animal fighting (7 U.S.C. § 2156).

“It is a great honor to be part of an organization with a group of people whose mission is to help protect and defend animals from inhumane practices and cruelty.” said Chanel Cruz Jarrett, a former Miss Guam and the anti-cockfighting spokesperson for the Animal Wellness Foundation. “I’ve always been an advocate for the fair treatment of all animals and I am thrilled to know that, of the people on Guam who were polled, there is a huge percentage who are like-minded and want to see the cruel and unfair animal practices come to an end.”


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