Before we look at the issue that U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, D-Ill. Phoned me to talk about last week – the shipping of combat birds through the United States Postal Service – we need to understand the general idea of ââanimals sent by mail.
It is common practice.
âThey sent me a list of things you can legally post,â Quigley said. âPoultry, bees, scorpions, live adult birds, which is depressing. Baby alligators, frogs, chameleons, lizards, etc.
Which makes sense. Animals must go to farms and pet stores. It’s not like they can take a bus. Publishing them doesn’t seem particularly cruel to me. Given the amount of time a frog spends hibernating at the bottom of a freezing lake, four days in a dark container doesn’t seem like an unnatural crime.
But that’s not the problem Quigley is trying to solve.
âToday we are focused on buying, selling, possessing or receiving animals for the purpose of the animal’s participation in a fighting business,â Quigley said.
Cockfighting – putting two birds in a ring, with razor talons attached to their claws, and causing them to mutilate each other – is one of the sport’s most obscure underhells. Illegal in all 50 states, it is still allowed in territories like Puerto Rico and Guam.
Maybe I was softened by the isolation of COVID, but I was just happy to be approached by someone about something. Quigley could have cared about the Oxford comma, and I would listen to him.
Earlier this month, Quigley sent a letter to Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale, asking the USPS to develop a strategy to begin to better enforce the 2002 federal law against shipping animals to combat ends.
âThere have been 500 combat bird shipments, mostly from state farms in the Carolinas, around 10,000 combat animals sent to Guam,â Quigley said. The birds are also sent to Puerto Rico.
I was wondering if there wasn’t a cultural factor here. We don’t ban horse racing, which is also not a picnic for horses. Or boxing for that matter. Maybe we’re just cracking down on cockfighting because people in Puerto Rico and Guam like it.
âLook, I’m aware of that sensitivity,â Quigley replied. âSome things are cultural. Well, domestic violence too.
Not wanting to go down that route, I asked Quigley how he got into the government bird-guard duty.
âApparently I’m one of the go-to people now when human issues are about animals,â he said. “People send me more information like this because I sponsor the Big Cat Safety Bill” – a federal law that would shut down future American Tiger Kings and also ban private ownership of lions .
Right now, readers might be wondering why, with the series of major catastrophes and crises unfolding, Quigley is going to be fighting for the lions, tigers, and roosters.
âI’m on the intelligence committee,â Quigley said. âWorking every day on hot spots and threats: Ukraine, North Korea, China, Iran. We have the capacity and the resources to solve more than a few of our problems. “
Fair enough. More than birds are injured.
âWe learned that children who mistreat animals are very likely to be violent towards humans when they grow up,â Quigley said.
When the previous president installed Louis DeJoy as head of the USPS, in a brazen attempt to cripple the Postal Service, injure Jeffrey Bezos and ballot by mail, one of the unexpected side effects was the live animal shipping: There was a ruckus earlier in the year in New York State, which attempted to ban the practice after nearly 4,800 chicks died after languishing in a postal establishment. There have been calls for a total ban on postal animals, a legal practice since 1918.
âI’m actually going to review this, particularly with the state of the couriers,â Quigley said. âIt is worth considering. Is there a better and more humane way to do this? “
I guess there isn’t; the solution is to fire DeJoy and make the mail buzz again. Although when it comes to cockfighting, it’s hard to argue with Quigley.
âAnimal fighting is bad enough,â he said. âLet’s not add more. You put a living animal in a box, with no food or water, for an 8,000 mile journey to Guam, only to be trained to fight to the death with talons and metal claws. Let us reduce the misery involved.