Get Answers: Cockfighting spectators can’t be arrested
21 / DICIEMBRE / 2009
By: Eyewitness News 4
Only one person was arrested during a suspected cockfight in the South Valley over the weekend, even though investigators found about 20 people there. A lot of you wrote to us and asked why no one else was arrested.
Officials with animal protection of New Mexico say the owner of the birds was arrested under the state’s cockfighting law for sponsoring, organizing or participating in cockfighting. But the 20 or so spectators are off the hook because the current loophole in the statute does not allow law enforcement to prosecute spectators of cockfighting.
Cracking down on spectators wasn’t written into the cockfighting law like it is for watching dog fighting, a fourth degree felony.
Not being able to go after spectators is frustrating for law enforcers.
“It’s an easy way for them to win $50 bucks on a weekend and it gives them something to do on a Saturday, and they know they can’t be prosecuted right now,” said Heather Ferguson of Animal Welfare.
But animal protection hopes to work with the legislature to toughen up penalties for all involved. Yet with the impending legislative session a short, 30 day budget session this year, the move for tougher penalties will have to wait until 2011.
As of right now, those who organize a cockfight only face a petty misdemeanor if convicted– equivalent to getting a traffic ticket. But animal protection says the owner of the roosters will face felony charges, but not for cockfighting.
It’s for animal cruelty; one bird was found dead and two were injured.