Roosters deserve equal protection under law
Two Oahu men have been indicted for felonies in the butchering of a dog, while four Molokai men face misdemeanor cockfighting charges.
Two former Oahu golf course employees on Tuesday became the first in the state to be charged with animal cruelty as a felony for the butchering of a dog. On the same day, four Molokai men were charged with misdemeanors for engaging in the organized and equally cruel crime of cockfighting. State legislators should combat Hawaii's reputation as a haven for cockfighting by following states that are engaging in major crackdowns resulting in felony cockfighting prosecutions.
If convicted, the men accused of stealing a Moanalua Golf Club member's 8-month-old puppy at the course's equipment shack in December and killing it for the purpose of eating it face punishment of up to five years in prison and $10,000 fines. The Molokai men face a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted of cockfighting.
Last year, Hawaii became the 43rd state to make cruelty to animals a felony offense, but it is limited to the treatment of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, domesticated rabbits or pigs and caged birds not bred for consumption. Cockfighting is a felony in 35 states, but not in Hawaii, which also is among only 10 states where being a spectator at a cockfight is legal.
Seven men could face multiple felony charges following their arrest last week in connection with a large cockfighting ring in Livermore, Calif. The Alameda County sheriff's office now is looking for suitable homes for more than 600 gamecocks and hens found in the breeding facilities. The raid came three months after more than 5,000 roosters, hens and chicks were seized outside San Diego in what was called the largest cockfighting bust in U.S. history.
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