(ANIMAL WELFARE) TEXAS — We recently applauded a new law that cracks down on cockfighting in Texas. Last week, officers exercised the powers granted by this new law to arrest Jimmy Lee Bradshaw, the manager of the Oleander Game Farm, and cited thirteen others on site. For decades Texas has allowed cockfighting, but hopefully this raid is a sign of change in the Lone Star state. Read on to learn more about the descent of law enforcement on the Oleander Game Farm. — Global Animal
Houston Chronicle, Carol Christian
A purported cockfighting breeder in Galveston County with a history going back several decades could soon be shut down as a result of a raid by several law enforcement agencies.
Officers empowered by a new state law descended Thursday on the Oleander Game Farm in Santa Fe and found some 300 birds, many with their combs and wattles removed and spurs shaved down to accommodate the special weapons used in cockfighting.
The manager of the farm, Jimmy Lee Bradshaw, 66, was arrested and charged with two felony counts and one misdemeanor count of cockfighting. He was later released on bond.
Before the law was changed, prosecution of cockfighting was difficult because it had to be witnessed by lawmen.
When officers raided a cockfight, usually held in rural areas, owners and spectators would scatter, making it hard to file charges that would hold up in court, according to Nicole Paquette, Austin-based state director of The Humane Society of the United States.
But House Bill 1043, which took effect Sept. 1, makes it illegal to attend cockfights, possess birds with the intent to fight, and sell or possess weapons designed to increase bleeding in cockfights. Bradshaw is the first person arrested under the possession sections of the law.
The birds were not taken, officials said, because under criminal seizure provisions the seizing entity would have to keep them until the case goes to trial.
Lt. Joel Caldwell of the Galveston Police Department coordinated Thursday’s raid, which included representatives of the Santa Fe Police Department, Galveston County Sheriff’s Department, Galveston County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office, Harris County Precinct 6 Constable’s Office, the Humane Society of the United States and the Houston Humane Society.
The breeding facility is one of the largest in Texas, Paquette said.
Her agency, which lobbied for the bill, contacted Caldwell about the Santa Fe operation, which advertises in a national cockfighting magazine.
The removal of combs and wattles is common in cockfighting because those parts, on the head and under the beak, bleed profusely when cut, said John Goodwin, the national director of The Humane Society of the United States’ animal cruelty policy. Shortening the spurs, which naturally grow to about an inch and a half, also is standard practice, he said.
“Cockfighters saw it down to a quarter-inch so they can affix an artificial weapon in place of the natural spur, like a knife,” Goodwin said.
This week’s raid followed a three-month investigation into the farm, which dates back at least to the 1950s, Paquette said. It will not be the last.
“We will be following up on this,” Caldwell said. “If you’re engaged in cockfighting in Galveston County, we’re going to come after you and charge you criminally.”
The state’s first arrest for attending a cockfight under the new law took place Sunday in Fort Worth, where 13 people were cited for being at the event, Paquette said.
“It’s been a busy week,” she said.