Crime

Pigeon Racing Apparently Is Happening in Arizona; Of Course, PETA's Pissed

People apparently are gambling on pigeon races in Arizona, and there's actually a group that cares about it. Of course, that group's called PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

PETA says it's just completed a "15-month undercover investigation" over five states, including Arizona, into pigeon-racing operations.

See, pigeons -- which PETA claims are smarter than dogs -- tend to die from running into power lines, getting lost and dying from exhaustion, starvation, and other causes stemming from these races.

PETA's also pissed about the pigeon racers' killing the birds because they suck at winning races.

The stuff that non-PETA-enthusiasts may actually care about from this investigation is that PETA's accusing people of violating state and federal gambling laws from the races, in which stakes can reach more than $200,000.

Since most people have probably never heard of pigeon racing before, here's how PETA explains it:

Pigeon racers start training young birds by having them fly around outside their home lofts to familiarize them with the location. They then place the birds in crates and drive them away from home to release them for "training tosses," first close to home and then farther and farther. For a race, the birds are driven as many as 600 miles from their home to see if they are able to make it back faster than other birds. Released first thing in the morning, they fly out of desperation to get back to their mates and their eggs or hatchlings. When they return, sensors scan the radio-frequency identification chips in their leg bands and record their times on electronic race clocks. Their speeds are calculated based on the distance from the race release point to the racers' lofts, and the race results are sorted by average speed. The fastest birds win prize money.

The gambling comes into play as PETA alleges that the "entry fees" for a race technically are wagers, and the group also claims that people are gambling on the birds in other ways.

PETA claims almost $275,000 was wagered during the "2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention Race" in Phoenix.

Then, if the birds don't die of stupidity, PETA claims, racers are torturing them or killing them by other means.

"At the 2011 [American Racing Pigeon Union] Convention Race, out of 2,294 baby birds shipped to the Phoenix area for training, only 827 survived to race day," the group says.

Being PETA, it also objects to how the pigeons are killed, which it claims includes "breaking or wringing their necks, suffocation, gassing, pulling their heads off, drowning, and selling them to live poultry markets."

PETA says its turned over the evidence to the Maricopa County Attorney and the U.S. Attorney General, asking them to open investigations into the "rampant illegal gambling in violation of state and federal laws -- including felony gambling laws, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and tax laws -- to the tune of $200,000 or more in stakes per race"

There's also a video accompanying PETA's investigation, but judging from the gold chains and New York accents, those people might not be from Phoenix.

PETA has more details if you need them -- click here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley