Update June 10, 2011: H.B. 1043 has now been signed into law as amended by the House and Senate.
Under the final version, it will be a felony to knowingly:(1) cause a cock to fight with another cock; or (2) participate in the earnings of a cockfight.
It will be a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly use or permit another to use any real estate, building, room, tent, arena, or other property for cockfighting; own or train a cock with the intent that the cock be used in an exhibition of cockfighting; manufacture, buy, sell, barter, or exchange, possess, advertise, or otherwise offer a gaff, slasher, or other sharp implement designed for attachment to a cock with the intent that the implement be used in cockfighting.
It is a Class C misdemeanor to attend a cockfight on a first offense and a Class A misdmeanor for second and subsequent offenses.
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the conduct (1) occurred solely for the purpose of or in support of breeding cocks for poultry shows in which a cock is judged by the cock ‘s physical appearance; or (2) was incidental to collecting bridles, gaffs, orslashers. But these affirmative defenses are not available if the evidence shows that the actor is also engaging in use of the cocks for cockfighting.
Other exceptions include "bona fide experimentation for scientific research; or "the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generallyaccepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or agriculturepractice involving livestock animals". Children who are 15 years old or younger are also exempt.
For more on the history of this new law which takes effect September 1, 2011, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update April 14, 2011: S.B. 939 was left in the Criminal Justice Committee following an April 5 hearing.
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. is the bill’s Senate sponsor.
The House version, H.B. 1043, also remains in committee.
For more on these identical bills, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below.
Original report: Texas bill, H.B. 1043, would make it a felony for anyone to (1) engage in cockfighting, (2) operate a facility used for cockfighting, (3) participate in earnings from a cockfight, (4) use or permit someone else to use any property for cockfighting, or (5) manufacture, buy, sell, barter, exchange, possess, advertise, or otherwise offer a gaff, slasher or other sharp instrument that is attached to a cock for fighting.
Oddly, it would only be a Class C misdemeanor to own or train a bird for fighting. Under the bill it would be a Class C misdemeanor to be a spectator at a cockfight.
Any equipment used for cockfighting including any vehicles used for transporting cocks, housing, or equipment used to promote a cockfight like photography equipment as well as the birds themselves could be seized or ordered forfeited.
A similar Texas bill in 2009 failed to pass.
A number of bills were introduced nationwide in 2009-2010 to crack down on cockfighting; a number passed. Go here for information. And go here for yet more animal fighting bills introduced in the last 2 years that also targeted cockfighting. In 2010 a bill and resolution to honor cockfighting as a "cultural activity" failed even to get a vote in the Hawaii legislature. Indeed, cockfighting is now a crime in all 50 states.