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Pigeon-Racing Lawbreakers Face Felony Charges

Written by PETA | March 19, 2013

PETA’s investigation into the cruel pigeon-racing racket spanned many states and revealed rampant illegal gambling, in violation of state and federal laws—including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and felony gambling and tax laws—with stakes of $200,000 or more per race. One of those states was Oklahoma, and as a result of the criminal investigation that followed, the Oklahoma County district attorney has charged three race organizers—including the executive director of the American Racing Pigeon Union—with felony commercial gambling and conspiracy to violate the state’s anti–commercial gambling act.

Racing Toward Death

Until PETA’s investigation broke, the shadier aspects of pigeon racing had attracted little attention, but it’s a blood sport that deserves to be as condemned as cockfighting or dogsled racing. In a typical race, 60 percent of the birds will never make it back to their lofts and mates because of extreme weather, predators, electric lines, foul play, and exhaustion.

Out of more than 1,500 baby pigeons shipped to Oklahoma City for just one event attended by the investigators, the 2010 American Racing Pigeon Union race, a little more than 1,000 birds survived training. Of those thousand birds entered into the final race, a mere 420 made it back from Arkansas by nightfall—and many of those who returned still likely had their necks wrung if they failed to finish “in the money.” As one pigeon racer told investigators, when starting out in pigeon racing, “The first thing you have to learn—how to kill pigeons.”

What You Can Do

There’s nothing sporting about forcing animals to risk—and often lose—their lives so that someone can win a prize, a title, or some money. Please never attend or support these sadistic blood sports, and if you witness cruelty, never be silent

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  • Connie says:

    I would like to see these people be prosecuted to the fullest for illegally killing these animals.

  • aok loft says:

    The sport of raceing pigeon is a sport of kings and common folks. The problem I see is that some pigeon guys just don’t care about our sport and only care to support the illegal aspects of our sport like gambling and killing hawks. I emailed the omaha raceing pigeon association in 2008 that I considered there behavior of gambling and killing hawks was illegal. The president of the club got angry and blackballed me from the sport. I see now this club in omaha nebraska is having a midwest convention race in 2013 and trying to get the au to have there convention in 2014. These fellows they thin the are above the law by getting a gambling licence from iowa or nebraska. These guys also share there clubhouse with keystone little league baseball team to hide there activity they have done for years. Yes they are not good for any sport or whistle blowers like myself.

  • Bird Fancier says:

    Another who knows everything but actually knows nothing, racing pigeon can easily survive in ‘the wild’ and often do. I have had birds return months after they have gone missing in very fine fettle,as for earning money from pigeon racing you really are living in a rose tinted dream world. I have kept racing pigeons for 50 years and i have never ‘ripped’ a pigeon away from its mate & eggs.All your observations are from what you’ve read, not what you know and your putrid attempts at insults really tell every one what an embarrassment you really are. I reiterate my statement go after a worth while adversary in the Hunting Lobby and PETA will have my full support.

  • lisa says:

    Your just greedy slobs that can’t be bothered to get a proper job and use defensless animals to make your money so you can buy your next ring or chain

  • lisa says:

    Bird Fancier you need to get your head out your arse you say your pigeons face the same the same real world as wild ones, excuse me but wild ones are not forced to fly, have their babies taken away from them, not drugged or have their necks broken when cant fly quick enough or kept locked up. And what you say they can survive in the wild is crap they cant because they have not been born in the wild they dont know what to do. And why would you say why dont you strive to achieve to something significant and halt a true blood sport like hunting?? Pigeons dont have a jockey on their back??? its the same thing your using these animals to earn you money just like dog fighting and cock fighting there’s no difference and the animals are the ones that suffer at the end of the day.

  • Bird Fancier says:

    I’m afraid Jared has very little hands-on knowledge of Pigeon Fancying, the vast majority of racing pigeons survive racing, and the vast majority of those that do not usually die in the same way that befalls the vast majority of wild pigeons, natural predators. As for saying that birds that fail to finish ‘in the money’ often have their necks broken once again shows complete ignorance about the world of Pigeon Racing. As my Dad used to say ‘Only half believe what you see and don’t believe a thing you hear’ The life span of a racing pigeon bears no comparison to that of it’s wild cousins, they are pampered and cossetted and often reach ages of 20+ years. To call it a blood sport is deluded and greatly mis-informed and to compare it to dog fighting is frankly beyond belief. Mick Johnson

  • Jared says:

    Bird Fancier doesn’t even dispute that the majority of birds forced to race die bad deaths and that the birds who fail to finish “in the money” often have their necks broken by pigeon racers. The birds aren’t flying at top speeds to return to their lofts because “they want to,” but because they are ripped from their life mates, eggs, and hatchlings and are desperately trying to make it back to their families. And unlike pigeons born and raised in the wild, these birds have never learned to fend for themselves. When they are forced to land due to exhaustion or injury, they do not have the survival skills necessary and often succumb to starvation. Bird Fancier’s argument is no different than saying that dogs used in violent and deadly dog fighting rings who are fed and watered are perfectly cared for – they would probably fight with others in the wild and there’s no one on their backs forcing them to do it.

  • Bird Fancier says:

    I am a pigeon fancier and take great exception at my hobby being classified as a blood sport. My pigeons are given the best possible care and attention whilst in my care. When we race pigeons they are beyond our care by the fact they they are exposed to the real world in exactly the same way as a non domesticated pigeon is, they have to face exactly the the same trials and tribulations that a pigeon enjoying freedom as a wild animal does. Pigeons do not have a jockey on their back, they seek to return home because they want to. They can survive perfectly well in ‘the wild’ as many pigeons have been known to return to their lofts months later and none the worse for wear. The real reason you attack pigeon racing is because it’s small fry being a minority activity along with the vast majority of your targets. Why don’t you strive to achieve something significant and halt a true ‘blood sport’ like hunting, or is that too powerful. Mick Johnson

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