Kentucky and neighboring Ohio have long had some of the weakest anti-cockfighting laws in the nation -- they are at the north end of the "cockfighting corridor" that stretches from there down to Alabama and Mississippi. In all of these states, penalties for cockfighting are anemic, the laws haven't been upgraded in decades, and politicians have consistently sided with organized networks of lawbreakers and resisted efforts to square these states' laws with those of the rest of the country and the federal government. And so have some law enforcement officials who turn a blind eye in these states. In 2010, The Humane Society of the United States released undercover video of uniformed state police officers at a cockfighting pit in Manchester, Kentucky.
This culture of tolerance for cockfighting in Kentucky has caused it to become something of a hotbed for cruelty. Now, it appears to have derailed the political aspirations of a U.S. Senate candidate, Matt Bevin, who appeared at a pro-cockfighting rally in Corbin, Kentucky, on March 29 and then falsely claimed he didn't know the event was about legalizing the blood sport. Speaker Stumbo once declared that he wasn't sure cockfighting should be illegal despite the fact that most states banned this staged animal combat in the 1800s. State Democratic Representative Richard Henderson of Mount Sterling joined Bevin as a speaker at the pro-cockfighting rally, where some 700 cockfighting enthusiasts had gathered. In his account, Special Agent Wojtkonski documented that cockfighters from surrounding states, especially Virginia and North Carolina, regularly attended the cockfights in eastern Kentucky because the laws are weak and enforcement virtually non-existent. These cockfighting pits are widely known, and hundreds of spectators assemble for the regular fights.