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Cockfighting bill out of committee

A bill that would increase penalties for cockfighting in Alabama passed out of Senate committee Wednesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a measure that would provide up to a year in jail for organizing, attending or betting on cockfights. A second offense would mean even more jail time, from one to 10 years.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, Alabama currently has the nation’s weakest anti-cockfighting law. Although the practice is a felony in 39 states, the blood sport is only a misdemeanor in Alabama, punishable by a maximum $50 fine.

Joe Murphy, executive director of the Chilton County Humane Society, supports the legislation.

“There’s no sense in making something illegal unless there are penalties involved,” Murphy said. “A $50 fine is not going to persuade somebody not to do it.”

Murphy spoke on behalf of a similar measure before the Agriculture Committee of the Alabama Legislation last year.

However, not enough committee members attended to meet quorum, and the bill never made it out of committee. Opposition from people who raised the chickens also helped kill the 2009 bill.

Murphy is optimistic that this year will be different, and penalties will be made tougher.

“It’s barbaric…It’s just a blood sport for man’s entertainment, and it’s fundamentally wrong,” he said.

The bill now goes before the entire Senate for a vote.