by Steve Hindi, founder, Showing Animals Respect & Kindness
“Another long lull in Kentucky law enforcement against cockfighting followed, until the SHARK campaign debuted in 2020,” ended the January 26, 2022 ANIMALS 24-7 article entitled Two cockfights stopped; Steve Hindi credits local opposition.
That sentence referenced the scarcity of cockfighting busts in Kentucky between a 2010 exposé by the Humane Society of the United States, and the first exposé of cockfighting in Kentucky by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness in mid-2020.
The Humane Society of the U.S. obtained undercover video documenting the presence of two uniformed law enforcement officers during cockfights at the Laurel Creek Game Club in Manchester, Kentucky in January and February 2010.
HSUS dropped the campaign & momentum
Ten years and four months later, Showing Animals Respect & Kindness investigators videotaped exactly the same thing going on at exactly the same place. Only the names of the compromised police officers appeared to have changed.
The lull in Kentucky law enforcement against cockfighting occurred because the Humane Society of the U.S. [HSUS] abandoned their much publicized 2010 anti-cockfighting effort, except for the extremely rare cases wherein HSUS takes advantage of a photo-op after a cockfight bust by law enforcement.
Since there have not been many cockfighting busts in Kentucky lately, nor in any other states where most of the cockfighters are white good-old-boys, there have not been many photo-ops either.
There should not be any lulls in law enforcement against cockfights
What good does it do to start a fight that you don’t finish? In the case of a group like the Humane Society of the U.S., it raises money, and that raises the group’s profile, but it does nothing to actually make permanent change.
It’s like walking up to a champion boxer, cuffing him, and then running. Yes, it’s a flash in the pan, but it doesn’t make the troublemaker the new champion. That only happens with a real match. A quick sucker punch is easy. A full-fledged match shows who is real, and who isn’t.
There shouldn’t be any lulls in law enforcement against cockfights, or other illegal animal abuses, but that’s what happens when a group comes in and starts a campaign, only to falsely declare victory and run off when there is nothing of substance accomplished.
Toy drones & fake cookies
In some cases the fraud is even more flagrant. Seven years ago, scammer and self-proclaimed “journalist” Will Potter raised tens of thousands of dollars on a declaration that he would buy drones and expose factory farming. Potter apparently bought some toy drones with a tiny fraction of the money, but any productive work is nonexistent. It should be noted that no one but SHARK and ANIMALS 24-7 held him responsible.
(See Idaho ag-gag falls, AETA does nothing, & Will Potter’s drone allegedly flew away.)
PETA co-founder Alex Pacheco, with his fictional sterilization cookie, is another example of animal rights bullshit artistry, and I could list dozens more examples.
(See “600 Million” reasons to toss Alex Pacheco’s alleged spay/neuter cookies, Pseudo-science & the Alex Pacheco “Spay & Neuter” Cookie, Alex Pacheco of “600 Million” says he was gunner on a boat with no guns, Steve Hindi & SHARK up the ante & call Alex Pacheco’s bluff, Alex Pacheco serves stale “Spay & Neuter Cookies” again for Christmas, Spay/neuter popcorn? It’s as real as Alex Pacheco’s s/n cookies!) and FDA verdict on Mifrepristone upstages more nonsense from Alex Pacheco.)
Suckered by ploys
So long as donors falls for ploys from these fraudsters, and don’t track actual progress or demand real results, they’ll be suckered by ploys, and the animals will pay the ultimate price.
When I pledged to fight pigeon shoots back in 1989, and subsequently started SHARK, we stuck to the pledge. Showing Animals Respect & Kindness most recently documented a pigeon shoot just a few weeks ago, and will document and expose plenty more going forward, until they are gone.
Though many pigeon shoots have been shut down, there are still a small number of shoots left, including in Pennsylvania, where the Humane Society of the U.S. pushed Libre’s Law to passage in 2017, exempting pigeon shooters from prosecution for cruelty to animals.
We are still after pigeon shoots, wherever they still occur. The Humane Society of the U.S. and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which also claimed to be committed to the pigeons, and promised they wouldn’t abandon them, did exactly that: abandoned them.
(See Did HSUS & Humane Pennsylvania sacrifice pigeons to NRA demand? and Biggest pigeon shoots in years follow Pennsylvania cruelty law exemption.)
Who else rewards those whose rivets don’t hold?
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness started after rodeos in 1993. Again, we’ve forced more changes in rodeo than all other animal protection groups put together, but there is still rodeo, and those rodeos are filled with abuse, and we are still after them. Other organizations, including and especially the Humane Society of the U.S., worked on rodeos before us, only to drop them for other donation-raising ploys.
When I was a hunter, a pursuit I abandoned 32 years ago, any stooge who claimed he was going to take down a big quarry and then prematurely abandoned the effort was considered a laughingstock.
I was involved in manufacturing rivets for aircraft, car makers, and the construction industry for more than four decades. Braggarts, bullshit artists, and scammers were treated with appropriate scorn, ridicule, and contempt––and anyone whose products did not hold together soon went broke.
In the animal protection racket, scammers are often treated to millions and millions of dollars. In the animal protection racket, the bigger the lies––the greater the rewards.
“Outliers” & proud of it
In this regard, ANIMALS 24-7 is an invaluable resource for people determined to make real change for animals.
Full disclosure: I consider Merritt and Beth to be more like family than friends, but that is only because they strive to tell the truth. It is for that very same reason that the big groups try to minimize ANIMALS 24-7 and the Cliftons, and make them appear to be, in former HSUS president Wayne Pacelle’s words, “outliers.”
Merritt and Beth may be outliers, but that is only because so few of today’s so-called “leaders” of this industry are people of truth or integrity.
(See Pit bulls, “outliers” & Humane Society of the U.S. prez Wayne Pacelle.)
“Cockfighters are what they are”
If the Humane Society of the U.S. had not all but abandoned fighting cockfighting a decade ago, I doubt there would be much cockfighting in the U.S today. The same could be said of a lot of other abuses, including pigeon shoots, rodeos, and much else.
We should not really blame the cockfighters for continuing to fight gamecocks today. Cockfighters are what they are: cowardly animal abusing criminals, who will go on doing what they do until and unless humane and decent people stop them.
The police who turn a blind eye, and especially those who take payoffs from the cockfight mafia certainly bear a considerable degree of responsibility, as they have violated the public trust.
Animal Wellness Action
But no one bears as much responsibility as the Humane Society of the U.S. and the other big groups who have raised money off of campaigns to stop cockfighting, only to abandon the effort when the time came for the real work, expense, risk, and commitment.
This includes Wayne Pacelle. No longer part of HSUS, he nonetheless is making lots of noise through his new organization, Animal Wellness Action, about trying to shut down cockfighting by people of color in faraway places, such as Guam and Puerto Rico, while refusing to take on the white nationalist cockfighters who commit their abuse just a few hours away from Washington D.C.
(See Busting cockfights by people of color but ignoring the good old boys.)
Humane and decent people should find this absolutely repulsive.
Stay safe and warm in your condos and plush offices, Wayne, Kitty, et al. It’s probably best that you leave the real work to serious, competent people.
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, Oakland, California, USA says
RELATEDLY: Kentucky has 120 counties, 118 of which voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Only TWO counties went for Hillary Clinton: Jefferson County (Louisville) and Fayette County (Lexington, and home of the University of Kentucky).
Keep in mind, too, that Kentucky’s economy is based on three vices: tobacco, liquor and horse racing.
And then there’re Kentucky’s two problematic Senators: Rancid Pall and Mitch “Turtle Man” McConnell.
Follow the money.
This is part of the problem.
Karen Davis says
Re: “Animal Wellness Action, trying to shut down cockfighting by people of color in faraway places, such as Guam and Puerto Rico, while refusing to take on the white nationalist cockfighters who commit their abuse just a few hours away from Washington D.C.”
To what do you attribute AWA’s focus on “faraway places” rather than on cockfighting in their own backyard? Roosters are being shipped in massive numbers from Kentucky and other cockfighting states to those places all the time, so there is a direct link between the white cockfighting establishment in the backwoods of the U.S. and the “people-of-color” cockfighters in U.S. territories like Guam and Puerto Rico. Are you suggesting the reason is racism? Or what exactly? This is not a challenge, just a question.
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns. http://www.upc-online.org
Steve Hindi says
First, Karen, I don’t mind a challenge. A constructive challenge, or constructive criticism is something that has been sadly lacking in this homogenized industry for a long time. We once had a vibrant movement that debated, argued and even fought. Turns out there was a benefit to that which we badly lack today. But I digress.
I can’t say for certain that it is racism. It may just be opportunism. Mr. Pacelle and others in this industry are experts at opportunism; sucking the oxygen out of the room, and stealing credit for others’ work. Just ask him about the fake HSUS rodeo campaign back in the 1990s, after SHARK did a major rodeo expose’ with the syndicated news show, Hard Copy. Right along the lines of Alex Pacheco’s fake cookies, and PETA and Will Potter’s fake drones. The list goes on and on. Fake doesn’t help animals – real, competent campaigns do.
What I know for certain is that when the targets abroad are people of color, in spite of cockfighting occurring all over the continental U.S., right here, it looks real bad to the average person. It makes a lot more sense to deal with our own back yard first. Once that is under control, then you go abroad. At least run a dual campaign, not one that focuses on shutting down people of color, while the whites guys are ignored.
When I first took on pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania, and the pigeon shooters found out I was from Illinois, they challenged and taunted me about “cleaning up my own back yard first.” Turns out, there was live pigeon shooting going on in Illinois. What an embarrassment!
Prior to them challenging me, I had no idea there was pigeon shooting in Illinois. I didn’t even believe them, but looked into it nonetheless, and to my dismay found out they were right, so I went to work with others in Illinois. This was really was the grass roots beginning of SHARK. Within a year and a half, pigeon shoots were declared illegal in Illinois, and the “clean up your own back yard” argument was gone.
The cockfighting abroad-versus-home issue is more sensitive. Animal protectors should be very careful to not give the appearance of racism, and chasing down people of color while ignoring white guys certainly gives the opposition an opening.
Yes, a few white guys may be shipping birds, but there are thousands and thousands – tens of thousands of white guys who are fighting and betting on them right here. Here is where we should take them first, and then move out. In the alternative, at least run a parallel effort. If SHARK had the money, that’s what we would do.
Pacelle and his organization have absolutely no intention of submitting to the discomforts, time investment, and physical risk of an on-the-ground campaign in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Alabama, or anywhere else where those white guys will make you disappear without a second thought. That’s the bottom line.
Unfortunately, Pacelle’s parlor tricks may bring in donations from the ignorant, but they aren’t going to stop the cockfighting mafia anywhere.
When HSUS undercover video revealed law enforcement at cockfights, we had a Democratic governor (father to our current governor) who did a “fake” investigation claiming that law enforcement did no wrong. We also had an Attorney General who was family with the operators of Big Blue Sportsman’s Club, raided by the feds in 2014. Since then this AG has run for office again, but has denied any family members involvement in cockfighting, despite this being well publicized when Big Blue was busted. This AG tried to “save face” after the federal bust by upgrading a dog fighting bill. The animal advocate community, in Kentucky, was gaslighted into believing that they were crazy extremists. Now few will even admit to caring about any animal that is not a dog. They have some responsibility in the propaganda against animal “rights extremism” as well.
Many animal advocates will not even use the word “rights” and basically caved into becoming welfareists, due to getting so much government sponsored ridicule. In 2016, a Calloway County bust took place because a new KSP officer and a local animal advocate community were willing to rock the boat and make the sacrifices necessary to truly rescue those victims. None of them died out of convenience, only from natural causes, but that one act of evolving has never received the recognition that it deserved. In fact, the local state representative posted an OpEd in the Murray paper, spreading more propaganda about “animal rights extremism”, instead of thanking their law enforcement for upholding the law. Two times there have been attempts to upgrade the law to a felony for chicken fighting, like dog fighting, and two times this bill was put into committees and never came out. That problem, too, suggests that the problem with evolving into this century, lies with some very powerful figures in government who need to be exposed. Thankfully, we are on that path and will solve this problem in our state, but we need the public to step it up and support it as well.
As someone who cares about animal welfare I have stopped advocating for the rights of animals because animals “rights” have been used throughout history by fascist regimes whenever they want to destroy a targeted group of humans. For example Hitler outlawed Halal slaughter in the guise of caring for animals when in reality he wanted to starve Jews. There are many other examples.
Here in America the “rights” of pit bulls are trumping the rights of all human beings. As are dogs in India, and it was the shutting of a slaughterhouse which set the myriad stray dogs onto the children. Animal rights activists made that problem impossible to solve in advance by causing the outlawing the culling of stray dogs in 2000. This is partly why people call them terrorists.
Merritt Clifton says
For the particulars concerning Hitler’s bogus “animal welfare” (not “rights”) legislation and how it fooled much of the animal advocacy sector in the U.S. and Britain into endorsing Nazism, see Animals In The Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats, and the Holocaust.
Culling street dogs, widely practiced in India for most of the 20th century, accomplished little or nothing to reduce non-rabid dog attacks, even as the advent of rabies vaccination and sterilization programs targeting street dogs caused the number of verifiable rabies cases to plunge toward the vanishing point. In truth, owned and otherwise fed dogs, rather than scavenging street dogs, were always those more likely to bite. Thus far into the 21st century, even as the national Animal Birth Control program has steeply cut the numbers of street dogs, the numbers of owned pet dogs and dogs fed in public places as quasi-pets have soared, as have non-rabid bites.
Worse, pit bull proliferation and dogfighting have come to India in a big way, while there as here, the animal advocacy community pretends pit bulls are behaviorally no different from the rather small, shy, and docile street dogs who were everywhere in India for centuries, consuming rubbish and keeping urbanized macaques in the trees.
There have been several cases in India in which slaughterhouse waste disposal practices, more often than closures, were contributing factors in fatal attacks on children. However, the dogs involved in the most publicized of those cases were owned dogs of the bully breed variety who were allowed to run at large.
(See Culling dogs is illegal, affirms Supreme Court of India, Bangalore to pay dog bite victims $31.50 per puncture, and Rabies plummets in India while “experts” ignore the data.)
Karen Davis says
A solution to pit bull attacks from an article on an unrelated topic in the Jan 31 issue of The New Yorker:
In Dublin, Ireland, “The family eventually settled in an area where children were regularly attacked by a local pit bull and people would come running with flaming torches, because fire was one of the few things that would make the dog unclench its jaws.”
Maybe this is a great idea for an Animals 24-7 tee shirt.
“Outlier, and proud of it!”
Beth Clifton says
Steve Hindi says
Sherry DeBoer says
Uhhhh… Of course we all know that many sheriffs are criminals too. That explains a lot. Here in Monterey County, California, the innocents are treated like criminals, horses are openly slaughtered and their meat sold, cockfighting is obvious, and dogs are not spared. (See More cockfighters than stars in Doris Day/Clint Eastwood country?) Torture and dumping are common. The Monterey County SPCA does not bother to use their spay/neuter truck, nor does the Santa Cruz SPCA. Both are loaded with dough. When I complained to Monterey County SPCA board president Sherrie McCullough about my not getting help from MCSPCA to stop felonies in progress, her exact response was, “Well, when was the last time you gave us any money?”
Steve Hindi says
Sherry, SHARK and HFA and working in Monterey County also, including an ongoing lawsuit. If you would like to share actionable information, please feel free.
Peter Hamilton says
So true about corruption and compromises in the animal rights movement over the decades. From changing circus ban goals to wild animals only (I got the first two ever on Vancouver Island for wild and domestics); to stopping pit bulls designated as a specified dangerous breed in Vancouver, to opposing Vancouver Aquarium expansions from the 80s to 2006 and the 1996 Vancouver Aquarium cetacean ban; to many others…
When I started Lifeforce in 1981 I thought all were involved for the causes not the $$$… sadly I was wrong.
Jamaka Petzak says
Well, I’m from L.A. and most, if not all, people here know about corruption in high places. We are also aware of the consequences of rocking the boat.
Sharing with gratitude.
Steve Hindi says
Jamaka, if we are animal activists, we rock the boat by default. At this unfortunate point in time, nowhere does the boat need to be rocked more than on our own pond.
Sheila Overton says