Some calling for tougher penalties on cockfighting

Tougher penalties on cockfighting

A recent cockfighting bust in Chesterfield County has many calling on lawmakers to increase penalties on the crime.

Deputies seized more than 100 birds at a location near McBee last week.

About 25 birds died, according to an incident report.

Forty-six people were charged with Cockfighting, including Justin Prichard, 32.

Deputies say he is the ringleader of the operation.

Officers seized blades, spurs, drugs and nearly $13,000.

The 103 surviving roosters are being housed at an undisclosed location in Chesterfield County.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue out of Charlotte is taking care of the birds. They say dozens of them are injured.

"They've all had their waddles, which is on the top of their heads burned off. They had them torn off the bottom here. I think they're starved for a couple of days prior to the fight. They're kept in the dark, so that they're really aggressive when they came out. So, they're hungry and haven't seen the light of day. Then they get the blades strapped around them. They get steroids in them," said Amy Stiner, Carolina Waterfowl Rescue.

This is the third major cockfighting bust in Chesterfield County in recent years.

Deputies say it's not just a problem in their county, but across the state as well.

They're calling on lawmakers to upgrade a Cockfighting charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Representative Deborah Long out of Lancaster and York Counties has introduced a bill to increase penalties.

Her bill is presently in the House Judiciary Committee and isn't expected to hit the house floor this legislative session.

Long says she will re-file the bill next session, because she feels that something has to be done to put an end to it.

"In nature birds are going to fight, alright. But these birds haven't been souped up on drugs and all this other stuff and had the spikes on their legs that they kill each other with. You know, that's a man-made thing, and that's what they're doing," said Rep. Deborah Long (R) Lancaster-York Counties.

Some question why cockfighting is even illegal, arguing that it's the oldest sport in the game with no real victims.

Deputies say the 46 people charged in the cockfighting bust will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The investigation is ongoing.