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August 24, 2011 / V A Nichols

Cockfighting in Alabama: Special insight

What do the State Vet, Auburn’s Joe Hess and the AGBA have in common?

(An email by Mindy Gilbert, HSUS Alabama State Director. Shared here with permission.)

Well, according to an article in Sunday’s Decatur Daily, it’s cockfighting. See their comments here:http://www.decaturdaily.com/stories/Cockfights-no-big-deal,83943?content_source=&category_id=&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id

So who is the AGBA? The Alabama Gamefowl Breeder’s Association is a non profit 501c-3 incorporated with the Secretary of State by D’Renda Lewis and Clyde Nelson. Remember Clyde’s name. They are a group that likes gamefowl. They are a non profit that raises money selling association memberships at cockfights. Cockfighting is illegal in Alabama. In spring of this year a lengthy investigation into an illegal cockpit in Chilton County was very revealing. The pit was infiltrated several times and in order to gain access, individuals had to show their membership card to the AGBA, or purchase one. Hundreds of people attended this pit and CBS 42′s Mike McClanahan exposed it . http://www.cbs42.com/content/localnews/story/Undercover-Cockfighting-Investigation-CBS-42/Eis3fnCvZ0SLolwzv2X6vQ.cspx\

Every time footage was taken in the pit, young children were observed in the front row gambling. Remember Clyde Nelson, one of the incorporating agents of the AGBA, a seemingly innocent non profit organization? When the Chilton Cockpit was investigated, an informant had to purchase a membership to the AGBA to get in. The little blue membership card had to have a sponsor’s signature and it was Clyde Nelson’s!! A phone number printed on the membership card belongs to D’Renda Lewis- the other incorporating agent of the AGBA.  So the AGBA, a non profit organization registered with the State Of Alabama, is selling memberships at illegal cockfights- even requiring proof of membership to get in!!!! In some of the footage taken at the Chilton pit, a man named Larry Woods is identified as the man coaching young kids pitside. Mr Woods also introduced himself as a vietnam war veteran,(commendable) and a cockfighter, at a committee hearing at the Alabama Statehouse in 2010. He was there to oppose legislation to strengthen the penalties for cockfighting. Currrently, Alabama’s are the weakest in the nation, a maximum $50 fine. Among his other statements at that hearing, Mr Woods said, “I’m a cockfighter, I’ve been a cockfighter for 26 years, it’s how I make my money and you’re not going to stop me!”

Wow.

Incidentally Mr Woods also spoke at one of the cockfights in the Chilton pit, asking attendees to cough up some money to pay the AGBA’s Lobbyist. Yes, this non profit that sells memberships at illegal activities also has a lobbyist that they hired to oppose the bill to strengthen penalties for cockfighting. Seems they raise money for lobbying at criminal activities too. Oh and this year- they have added to their lobbying team by hiring Former House Rules Chairman, Ken Guin. BUT WAIT- IT GETS EVEN CRAZIER

A few weeks ago the City of Fairhope responded to a call of a cockfight in  progress- arrested a bunch of folks and seized the birds. After notifying me, I, in turn, notified the Sate Veterinarian, Tony  Frazier. You see in previous years, Dr Frazier inserted language in the proposed cockfighting bill requiring his office to be notified in the event birds are seized in a cockfighting raid. Even though the bill has not passed, I notified him, out of respect for his position with the State. His statement in the Decatur Daily indicates that he reached out to the AGBA to find homes for the seized birds.

So, let’s see…. The birds seized in  a criminal activity were apparently, via a state official, transferred to the AGBA-the cockfighters????? ISN’T THIS A BIT LIKE SEIZING ILLEGAL DRUGS FROM ONE DRUG DEALER AND HANDING THEM OFF TO ANOTHER???

But wait- It gets better.

In the same Decatur Daily article, Auburn Agriculture Specialist Joe Hess admits that, “producers of game roosters in Alabama export birds for thousands of dollars to Asia, most of which go to Thailand where cockfighting is legal” Doesn’t sound too bad, except that exporting birds to fight is a federal crime!!!!! Seems like an Auburn Agriculture Specialist would know about that federal crime, but WAIT!!!  Apparently the AGBA cockfighters give financial support to Auburn University. In a March 2007 letter to the secretary of the AGBA ,(can’t we just call them Alabama cockfighters?), the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries thanks her association for their “continuing support”, in reference to one of a series of donations they made to the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Could be that money was raised at a cockfight too! I haven’t heard that they have bake sales.

If your head just took a 360 degree turn after reading this, take heart. I believe Alabamians are better than this.

Let your legislator, the State Veterinarian, Auburn University and the Department of Agriculture know that we are not all criminals and that at heart, most Alabamians do NOT support this behavior .  But if you don’t speak up and continue to speak up, nothing will change.

AGABA spokespersons never fail to mention that George Washington fought chickens, so it is a time honored tradition.

George Washington also owned slaves.

Some traditions should be relegated to history. Cockfighting is one of them.

Mindy Gilbert

Alabama State Director

mgilbert@humanesociety.org

t 205-471-5541

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