Animal Law

PETA to Puerto Rico: Ban Cockfights

With cockfighting soon to be banned by all 50 states, animal rights activists are turning their sights on one remaining U.S. bastion of what they consider a barbaric blood sport: Puerto Rico.

Pitting two specially bred roosters, often with metal or plastic spurs strapped to their feet, in a bloody contest that may seriously injure or kill them is a national pastime there that contributes significantly to the U.S. territory’s economy, the Associated Press reports. And claims by advocacy groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that the sport is cruel to the birds and should be illegal meet with little sympathy—particularly since many Puerto Ricans see such claims as hostile to their cultural heritage.

“It’s kind of like watching two boxers in the ring,” says Andrew Robertson, a 19-year-old on vacation from Montreal who attended Saturday cockfights at Club Gallistico near San Juan. “Of course, the boxers don’t die at the end of the fight, but you can still see some similarities.”

A bill signed last week by the governor of Louisiana made cockfighting illegal there, starting next summer. (See prior post.) Louisiana was the last state to ban the sport.

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