Friday, July 13, 2001

Counterfeiting charges top cockfighting

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE — Animal rights activists are outraged that sheriff's deputies, called to a popular cockfighting arena in eastern Kentucky, made no animal-cruelty arrests.

        They did, however, arrest two women believed to be passing counterfeit $50 bills.

        “It's absurd that charges have not been pursued against anyone else,” said Amy Rhodes, a case worker for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Cockfighting is a blood sport, and Kentucky law makes it illegal to participate in cockfighting or even to be a spectator at these events.”

        Pike County Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee said two deputies who responded to a counterfeiting call at the Blackberry Game Club on Sunday didn't go into the portion of the arena where people may have been betting on rooster fights.

        “They didn't see any cockfighting,” Sheriff Keesee said. “I'm not saying it wasn't going on.”

        Cockfighting is a popular underground sport in Appalachia. It's not uncommon to see the colorful cocks tethered to barrels around homes throughout the region.

        Pike County Attorney Keith Hall said chicken fighting isn't a top priority.

        “As soon as we get rid of all the drug problems and drunk driving and domestic violence, I'm going to ask the police to mount an all-out effort against chicken fighting,” Mr. Hall said.

        Ms. Rhodes said police and prosecutors should take a tougher stand.

        “I think at the very least an investigation should be made,” she said. “It sounds as if they're brushing the whole matter aside.”

        Tina M. Mullins, 19, of Crum, W.Va., and Loretta Zeek, 35, of Kermit, W.Va., were arrested at the cockfighting arena about 1:30 a.m. on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument and public intoxication.

        Both pleaded not guilty in Pike District Court on Wednesday. They remained in the Pike County Detention Center on Thursday in lieu of $5,000 bail. Both declined to comment.


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