|Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Before we consider the issue that U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., phoned me to talk about last week — shipping fighting birds through the United States Postal Service — we need to wrap our heads around the general idea of animals being sent through the mail.
It is a common practice.
“They sent me a list of things you can legally mail,” Quigley said. “Poultry, honeybees, scorpions, live adult birds, which is depressing. Baby alligators, frogs, chameleons, lizards, etc.”
Which makes sense. Animals need to get to farms and pet stores. It isn’t like they can take a bus. Posting them doesn’t strike me as particularly cruel. Given the amount of time a frog spends hibernating at the bottom of a frigid lake, four days in a dark container doesn’t seem a crime against nature.
But that isn’t the problem Quigley is trying to address.
“Today we’re focused on buying, selling, possessing or receiving any animals for purposes of the animal participating in a fighting venture,” Quigley said.
Cockfights — putting two birds in a ring, with razor talons attached to their claws, and goading them to maul each other — is one of the more obscure sub-hells of sport. Illegal in all 50 states, it is still permitted in territories like Puerto Rico and Guam.
Maybe I’ve been softened up by COVID isolation, But I was happy just to be approached by somebody about something. Quigley could have been exercised about the Oxford comma, and I’d give him my ear.
Earlier this month, Quigley sent a letter to Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale, asking the USPS to develop a strategy to start better enforcing the 2002 federal law against shipping animals for fighting purposes.
“There have been 500 shipments of fighting birds, mostly from state-based farms in the Carolinas, some 10,000 fighting animals sent to Guam,” Quigley said. The birds are also being sent to Puerto Rico.
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