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Two Bedford County deputies uncovered a large cock fight at a barn on Coffee Road just after midnight December 2nd.
Deputies said more than one hundred spectators were at that fight and yet, only one person, the owner of the property was been charged.
"It's simply the torture of an animal for money and amusement," said Leighann McCollum, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. "It's just not acceptable."
McCollum says Tennessee is one of only 10 states that punishes cockfighting as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Even within the Tennessee code itself, cockfighting is seen as less of a crime.
It clearly reads that animal fighting is a Class E felony “except for any offense involving a cock,” which is a Class A misdemeanor.
The penalty for watching a cock fight is a $50 fine. McCollum says, that's not enough to scare people away from the fights, especially if they stand to win hundreds of dollars betting on which rooster lives, and which one dies.
"We need some real laws with teeth that can actively discourage this kind of behavior," McCollum said.
Some lawmakers have tried to strengthen those laws. The latest effort died in subcommittee after running into opponents like Sen. Frank Niceley, (R- District 8).
"These boys out here in the country have been fighting roosters all their life and doing the same thing Abraham Lincoln did on the White House lawn," Niceley said. "It's not a bad enough crime to be a felony."
Niceley says making cock fighting a felony would put a strain on already overcrowded prisons.
"If we start locking up these country boys that are doing this, put away their daddy and their granddaddy, who do you want to turn out, child molesters, rapists, drug dealers?" Niceley asked.
Bedford County Chief Deputy David Williams Jr. said legislation aside, the group behind the cock fight his deputies busted December 2nd will probably just move somewhere else.
"Last year it was Marshall county [that] said they were having one in their area," Williams said. "Of course I'm sure this was the same group of individuals. They just move from one county to the other."
McCollum said cock fights also draw fighters and spectators from across the southeast that come to Tennessee to get around potential felony charges in their own states.
The only person charged in the Bedford County bust was the owner of the property Charlie Siebers, 61. Siebers is scheduled to appear in court January 9th.
Tuesday, December 11 2012, 09:57 PM CST
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The prince presided over an awards ceremony at the governor's mansion in Nashville on Thursday for the first batch of young Tennesseans to participate in the leadership and character program.
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Following the event, Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam invited the awardees and their families to tea inside the governor's residence. Later on Thursday, the prince was scheduled to headline a black-tie gala at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville.
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