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United Poultry Concerns March 10, 2003
Please Write a Letter Against Cockfighting

The Honorable Ann Veneman
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Phone: 202-720-3631
Fax: 202-720-2166
Email: agsec@usda.gov

Please add your voice to those urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to ensure enforcement of federal cockfighting laws, and to publicly endorse the Ensign-Allard-Cantwell (Senate) and Bartlett-Andrews (House) legislation to increase federal penalties for cockfighting. Below is the letter sent by United Poultry Concerns (3/10/2003) to Secretary Veneman including an outline of the issues.

March 10, 2003

The Honorable Ann Veneman
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Veneman:

To strengthen Article 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, a provision was added to the 2002 Farm Bill that makes it illegal to move, import or export birds intended for cockfighting as of May 2003. To strengthen this provision even more, Senators John Ensign, Wayne Allard, and Maria Cantwell, and Representatives Rob Andrews and Roscoe Bartlett are introducing legislation to impose felony-level penalties for violations of the law including a ban on interstate movement of cockfighting implements. Please endorse this legislation.

Americans overwhelmingly oppose cockfighting and want the laws against cockfighting to be enforced. Cockfighting violates the laws of 48 states, in 28 of which states it is a felony, and facilitates a variety
of criminal activities. It promotes disease among birds and is currently costing taxpayers millions of dollars in the form of Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), which has been traced to cockfighting operations in California. It is estimated that it will cost as much as $500 million merely to contain this disease that will never go away but more likely evolve into ever more virulent, resistant strains as long as
cockfighting, which involves the continual movement of birds across state lines and U.S. borders, continues.

It is our understanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has never properly enforced the interstate prohibitions of Article 26 that have been in place since 1976. According to The Humane Society of the United States, alerts to the USDA concerning illegal cockfighting operations have not led to departmental enforcement. In addition, we understand that the USDA is reimbursing game fowl breeders under the END eradication program in tax-dollar amounts up to $1,000 and $1,500 per bird. Please advise us regarding your policy of reimbursement to game fowl breeders under the END eradication program.

If such compensations be the case, we urge the USDA to stop reimbursing cockfighters with our taxes and instead use these taxes to enforce Article 26 of the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits the interstate transport of birds intended for cockfighting. We urge you to endorse the Ensign-Allard-Cantwell and Bartlett-Andrews legislation that will elevate the interstate commerce in birds intended for cockfighting to a felony offence.

Funds that are being used to eradicate a disease believed to have originated in cockfighting operations in California and Mexico should be dedicated to a vigorous federal program to eradicate cockfighting in the United States and uphold federal and state laws prohibiting cockfighting and its facilitation.

It is a betrayal if, instead of aggressively attacking the illegal activity of cockfighting, the USDA is pursuing a policy that legitimizes and encourages cockfighting not only by ignoring it but by paying cockfighters to destroy their flocks and introduce a constant supply of new birds in violation of Article 26 of the Animal Welfare Act which makes this commerce a crime.

I respectfully request an informative response from you at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your prompt and serious attention to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Karen Davis, PhD
President

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. http://www.upc-online.org


United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
757-678-7875
FAX: 757-678-5070
www.upc-online.org

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