Alabama cockfighting bill stirs passions

Cockfighting bill stirs passions on both sides of the issue

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

"Cockfighting is a pornography of violence..."

So begins a commercial created by the Humane Society (HSUS), the latest volley in the push to toughen the penalty for cockfighting in Alabama.

Dr. Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is featured in the commercial.

"I can't think of no more frivolous reason for causing pain than to watch two animals maim themselves to death," Dr. Land says in the commercial.

Last week's report on cockfighting stirred a public debate on the MyFoxAl.com Facebook page. Strong feelings were expressed among the 728 votes for a question of the day as well. Eighty-eight percent said cockfighting should not have a tougher penalty.

Sen. Cam Ward is the sponsor of a bill to increase fines and add jail time if one is caught engaging in cockfighting. With a maximum $50 fine, Alabama's law is considered the weakest in the nation.

"It's already illegal. You want to make the penalty so it's a deterrent," Sen. Ward said.

A look at surrounding state's laws showed that Florida has the toughest penalties. The maximum penalty for cockfighting is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In Georgia, it's a felony. In Tennessee and Mississippi it's a misdemeanor with jail time.

Ward's bill passed committee last week on a nine to one vote. It will head to the full Senate next, where Ward has asked if it will be considered as soon as this week.

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