MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A tip from an animal welfare group to the Union County Sheriff’s Office led to a raid at a cockfighting derby over the weekend in East Tennessee.
Ninety-eight people were cited with crimes related to cockfighting following a raid in the 100 block of Little Valley Road in Maynardville on Saturday, the Union County Clerk’s Office said.
Cockfighting is a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. The state is one of eight in the nation without felony-level penalties for the crime.
According to a release from the Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, the investigation was instigated by a tip and drone surveillance from the animal welfare group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). The group has been conducting surveillance operations throughout the south using drones.
The animal welfare group said the raid prevented more fights that had been planned that day.
“We applaud Sheriff Breeding for breaking up this cockfight and sending a signal that the county finds this conduct reprehensible,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.
A bill has been filed for introduction in the Tennessee General Assembly that would make core cockfighting activities a felony offense and increase fines. Previous efforts to increase penalties for cockfighting in the state have failed.
A hearing in the Union County case has been set for Thursday, March 2.