Animal Advocacy

Heat on Oklahoma Cockfighters

posted June 7th, 2020 by
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Heat on Oklahoma Cockfighters

Edmondson, Animal Wellness

Turn Up the Heat on Oklahoma Cockfighters

Rewards program announced for information leading to prosecution

by Emily Lang

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 6, 2020 — The Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA) today announced a $2,500 reward for information resulting in successful prosecution of any individual for violating the federal law (7 U.S.C. § 2156) or the state law against animal fighting  

The announcement follows last week’s action by former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson formally requesting an investigation of illegal cockfighting activity in the Eastern District of Oklahoma.  Based on the organization’s extensive investigations, identifying that several of the top global shippers of cockfighting birds operate from the eastern part of the state, Edmondson and other leaders at Animal Wellness labeled Oklahoma “the cockfighting capital of the United States.”

Edmondson is co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council, an arm of AWF and AWA. In a letter sent last week to U.S. Attorney Brian Kuester Edmondson provided results of an AWA/AWF investigation that showed a documented trail of shipments by the U.S. mail of animals from Oklahoma bound for Guam, a U.S. territory in the far western Pacific Ocean that had been a haven for animal fighting.  There is evidence that the shippers also moved birds to other global destinations – all in violation of federal law.

“Cockfighting is typically bound together with other illegal activities, such as gambling and drug use,” Edmondson said. “These are not the values held by Oklahomans, and this lawlessness should not be allowed to continue. While I sincerely hope U.S. Attorney Kuester is reviewing the results of the Animal Wellness investigation, we are also asking members of the public to come forward with information that could help root out this activity in our state.”

Anyone with information about illegal cockfighting activities can send information to [email protected]. Residents can also contact the appropriate U.S. Attorneys, the state attorney general, or county sheriffs or district attorneys. 

Under the federal anti-animal fighting law, it is a crime to:

  • Knowingly sponsor or exhibit in an animal fighting venture;
  • Knowingly attend an animal fighting venture, or knowingly cause an individual who has not attained the age of 16 to attend an animal fighting venture;
  • Knowingly buy, sell, possess, train, transport, deliver, or receive any animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture;
  • Knowingly use the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service, or any “written, wire, radio televisions or other form of communications in, or use a facility of, interstate commerce,” to advertise an animal for use in an animal fighting venture, or to advertise a knife, gaff, or other sharp instrument designed to be attached to the leg of a bird for us in an animal fighting venture, or to promote or in any other manner further an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the U.S.;
  • Knowingly sell, buy, transport, or deliver in interstate or foreign commerce “a knife, a gaff, or any other sharp instrument” designed or intended to be attached to the leg of a bird for us in an animal fighting venture.

Penalties for each violation of any one of these provisions allows for a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for perpetrators, except for an adult attending an animal fighting venture. Penalties for an adult attendee are 1 year in prison and a $5,000 fine.  The state law, which took effect in 2003 after voters approved an initiative, bans fighting and possession and allows for up to 10 years in prison for violators.

An “animal fighting venture “involves a fight conducted or to be conducted between at least two animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment.

Prohibitions on attending on selling, buying, possessing, training, transporting, delivering, or receiving an animal in an animal fighting venture; attending an animal fighting venture; or trafficking in knives or gaffs for use on a bird have long applied to all U.S. territories. On December 20, 2019, these prohibitions are effective in the U.S. territories: sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture or knowing using the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service, or advertising an animal for use in a fighting venture, to advertise a knife or gaff, or to promote an animal fighting venture.

“Federal agencies and officers have a duty to enforce our laws against the barbaric practices of cockfighting and dogfighting,” said Wayne Pacelle of the AWF. “But their good works depend on the cooperation and alertness of citizens. We ask people who know about illegal animal fighting activities to help us stop these forms of cruelty.”

Felony Cockfighting Activity

posted May 27th, 2020 by
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Heat on Oklahoma Cockfighters

Former AG Asks U.S. Attorney to Prosecute

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 26,  2020 – Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is asking  U.S. Attorney Brian J. Kuester to investigate allegations of ongoing trafficking of birds to Guam for cockfighting, for illegally possessing fighting animals, and perhaps engaging in other conduct at odds with state and federal law.  Mr. Kuester, based in Muskogee, has jurisdiction for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.  

The request follows an investigation by Animal Wellness Action and Animal Wellness Foundation that revealed that three of the top five shippers of birds to Guam, covering a three-year period, reside in eastern Oklahoma.  AWA and AWF allege, based on their investigation, that Oklahoma “may be the cockfighting capital of the United States.”  Attorney General Edmondson asked District Attorneys for Cherokee, Haskell, and LeFlore counties to investigate the allegations as well and to bring charges as appropriate.

Those individuals are John and Brenda Bottoms of Gunner Gamefowl Farm in Heavener; Bill McNatt of Cherokee Game Farm in Stigler; and Darrell Trammel of Moody Farm in Tahlequah. 

“The Eastern District is fraught with individuals who have been involved in the global trafficking and fighting of birds,” Edmondson said. “It is a felony under state and federal law to buy, sell, deliver or own any bird with the intent that such bird shall engage in a cockfight, and that’s clearly what we’re seeing. The three individuals identified in this investigation brazenly defy law enforcement officers. This deserves the attention of law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and that’s what we’re asking for.”

Through public records requests to the Guam Department of Agriculture, AWF and AWA obtained nearly 2,500 pages of avian shipping records dated November 2016 to September 2019. These records detail approximately 750 shipments of birds from more than a dozen states to Guam. 

In these documents, shippers described over 8,800 of the shipped animals as “brood fowl.”  There is no legitimate explanation for this volume of shipments. First, Guam does not have a significant animal agriculture industry or a show-bird circuit. Second, the ratio of roosters to hens in these shipments of brood fowl was nearly 10 to 1 with some shipments being over 100 to 1. It’s difficult to think of any animal agriculture industry that requires more males than females. Since it’s the males that cockfighters conscript for fights, and with standard breeding protocols calling for those ratios to be inverted, any reasonable person would conclude that the purpose of these shipments was primarily for promoting the cockfighting industry, which is robust on the island.

“Oklahomans voted in overwhelming numbers to ban cockfighting 18 years ago,” said Louisa McCune, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, which supports a number of animal welfare causes. “The record of these illegal shipments indicates that we have a sizable cockfighting industry operating in Oklahoma. It’s our hope that law enforcement takes very seriously any and all crimes involving the abuse of animals, including the breeding, selling, and shipping of roosters used for an unconscionable blood sport.” 

There have been a number of prosecutions of cockfighters in the state, including the most recent action in January 2020, when county authorities arrested two people after investigators stumbled across a cockfighting ring east of Harrah.

“Cockfighters are still at it in Oklahoma, and we hope our investigation prompts local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities to pull this illegal business up from its roots,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “The practice is cruel and barbaric, and long-distance movements of the birds threaten to spread avian influenza and jeopardize animal and human health.” 

AWA and AWF announced a rewards program to run for an indefinite time that provides a $2,500 reward for any individual who provides critical information that results in a successful federal prosecution of an individual or set of individuals who violate the federal law against animal fighting. 

Edmondson is co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council for AWA and AWF.  During his time as Oklahoma Attorney General, he defended the law from constitutional challenges brought by cockfighters.  In Edmondson v. Pearce, the Oklahoma Supreme Court determined in a unanimous ruling that the anti-cockfighting law represents a proper exercise of authority and that cockfighting and related activities are forbidden in the state.  Numerous federal courts have upheld the federal anti-animal fighting law as constitutional.

-Emily Lang

Lunchbox the Cat

posted March 4th, 2020 by
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Cadbury Bunny

LUNCHBOX THE CAT – THE NEW CADBURY BUNNY?

Local Feline Celebrity Makes His Big Break For National Stardom – Vote Today!

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – March 4th 2020 – Kristin Chenoweth, Garth Brooks, Mickey Mantle, and now Lunchbox the cat grace the list of Oklahoma’s most famous residents. The Large-and-in-charge rescue cat that found its home with the Oklahoma Humane Society earlier this year has been accepted as a finalist in the Cadbury Bunny Tryouts! Out of over 4,000 hopeful pets across America, Lunchbox was selected as one of 10 finalists all wishing to be the Cadbury Bunny in Cadbury’s upcoming Easter commercial.

 

Cadbury BunnyAfter developing a taste for fame from his meteoric rise to local stardom, Lunchbox has decided to try his luck on the national stage. The world needs more Lunchbox, and there is plenty to go around. The 23-pound tuxedo cat believes that he has what it takes to be the Cadbury Bunny, and he needs your help to make his dreams come true! Voting opens TODAY, so show your support for chonky boy Lunchbox by casting your vote.

 

Visit bunnytryouts.cadburyusa.com to make your voice heard. A vote for Lunchbox is a vote for Oklahoma rescue efforts!

 

Download Lunchbox’s official Cadbury Bunny Tryouts submission video here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/k346fi6uxhkwhg0/AABwIANekHS1nOlwfnYdqzzZa?dl=0

 

The Oklahoma Humane Society is Oklahoma’s largest animal rescue and is entirely donor funded and foster-based. OK Humane’s mission is to end the needless euthanasia of dogs and cats in the state of Oklahoma.  OK Humane has a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, a neonate clinic, and a relocation program, among several other initiatives to help increase the state’s live-release rate of animals from local shelters.  For more information on OK Humane, please visit okhumane.org.

Common Bonds sets OKC news conference

posted January 20th, 2020 by
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Common Bonds

Common Bonds to announce 90 percent shelter save rate initiative

Common Bonds, a group of organizations and individuals concerned about the wellbeing of Oklahoma’s companion animals, has scheduled a Jan. 21 news conference to discuss its plans to increase Oklahoma’s shelter save rate for dogs and cats to 90 percent.

The news conference is set for 11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Oklahoma City Animal Welfare, 2811 SE 29thStreet.

Common Bonds has established three distinct priorities in its effort to reach the 90 percent save rate. Those priorities include promoting methods to reduce the number of animals entering shelters, increasing community engagement and improving data collection. Speakers will discuss these priorities and the steps that will be taken to implement the group’s plan.

 

Speakers include:

Kelly Burley – director, Common Bonds

Jon Gary – animal welfare superintendent, City of Oklahoma City

Brent Toellner – senior director of national programs, Best Friends Animal Society

 

Dogs and cats available for adoption will also be in attendance.

For more information on Common Bonds, visit commonbondsok.com.

PAWS for MAPS 4 Included!

posted August 23rd, 2019 by
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PAWS for MAPS 4

 PAWS for MAPS 4

 

Dear Partners, Friends, Volunteers, and Supporters,Moments ago, the MAPS 4 package was officially posted on the City Council agenda. I’m thrilled to tell you that the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter is included in the overall package at $38 million!

 

 

 Pic 1

 

CONGRATULATIONS to all of you who worked tirelessly and lent your voice on behalf of the voiceless—the more than 21,000 animals that enter the Oklahoma City animal shelter each year. There have been many hurdles to cross in this year-long endeavor, but none bigger that the news shared within the last hour. WE ARE IN!

 

 

 Pic 2

 

To the tens of thousands of animal advocates, volunteers, funders, nonprofit leaders, and city employees who devote their lives to creating humane outcomes for animals of all kinds—this is a moment to rejoice in! A new animal shelter for Oklahoma City promises to be a game changer—here, statewide, and even nationwide. Today’s great news never would have happened without the big and small efforts of more than five thousand animal-loving Oklahoma City residents. A toast to you all! Thank you.Importantly, our work is not done. In fact, in many ways, it’s just beginning. The next three days are critical. It is vital that the City Council unite around the entire MAPS 4 package in a spirit of all for one and one for all. To that end, I encourage each of you to galvanize around the whole of MAPS 4—all projects, all proposals. The Animal Shelter is in the same league and on the same team as each of the other projects. Now is the time to join forces and act as one. MAPS 4 truly offers something for every single one of our residents. Not one of us is left behind. Indeed, MAPS 4 is the symbol of a city in full.

 

Right now, the most important thing you can do now is advocate for MAPS 4 in three ways:

1) Contact your city councilor if you haven’t already, today, and let them know that you are an animal advocate who supports the whole MAPS package. (Be sure to identify yourself as a PAWS for MAPS 4 supporter or animal shelter advocate and include your residential address.)

 

2) Begin the process of getting your organization to endorse MAPS 4. Each endorsement will matter, no matter how large or small your group is.

 

3) Join us in the City Council chamber at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday to demonstrate your support for MAPS 4. WEAR RED!

 

We’ve successfully crossed many hurdles over the last year and particularly the last few months. With a successful YES vote this Tuesday, the campaign for the hearts and minds of Oklahoma City municipal voters begins in earnest. We want you to be a part of it! 

 

As ever,

Louisa McCune

Education Director

PAWS for MAPS 4

 

 PAWS for MAPS 4

Network for Pets of Domestic Violence Victims

posted August 12th, 2019 by
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Network for Pets

New organization seeks to help pets of domestic violence victims

A new Oklahoma-based charitable organization aims to help domestic violence victims reach safety with their beloved companion animals. The Network for Pets of Domestic Violence Victims is dedicated to connecting animal care resources with the domestic violence shelters that need them. Many victims will delay leaving a dangerous situation if they cannot bring their pet with them, however, most domestic violence shelters do not have the facilities for companion animal care. NPDVV aims to bridge the gap. Domestic violence shelters seeking assistance as well as animal shelters, veterinarians, and potential pet fosters simply fill out the form on the website at www.npdvv.org. The information is then added to the growing database and matched based on location. The domestic violence shelter is provided with a list of contacts for available animal care resources in their area. By having this information in advance, domestic violence shelters can save precious time and can welcome more victims with pets to safety. Jonna Whetsel, a veterinary student at Oklahoma State University, is the organization’s founder. The idea was conceived in April 2017 while working on a project for a master’s program in veterinary forensic science. Whetsel was tasked with creating a training presentation addressing the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. As she built the presentation illustrating how animal shelters and veterinarians can help domestic violence shelters, she decided to lead by example. She finished the presentation and added a companion website, which became the basis for the Network for Pets of Domestic Violence Victims. After two years of working on the concept, the first week of its release has proven to be a success. Whetsel says there has been a tremendous outpouring of support and that the NPDVV site has already begun to receive form submissions from several states. To learn more about the program and what you can do to help pets of domestic violence victims, please visit www.npdvv.org.

### For more information, please contact Jonna Whetsel at [email protected]

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