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Criminal Investigation Into Possible Pigeon Gambling
A criminal investigation is underway into a group accused of betting on bird racing. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, sent investigators with undercover cameras to Oklahoma City, New York and Arizona to conduct a 15 month investigation into the world of pigeon racing. Their investigation in Oklahoma now has the Oklahoma City Police Department conducting its own criminal investigation.
"The investigation is still ongoing into criminal activity that's going on surrounding this and a lot of it has to do with the racing of pigeons," said Msgt. Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department.
It all started in November of 2010 when the American Racing Pigeon Union and the Pigeon Racers of Oklahoma held a pigeon racing convention. The convention took place at the Sheraton in Downtown Oklahoma City. Investigators from PETA got undercover video of what happened inside.
"Our investigators found and we reported to the authorities in Oklahoma City, gambling totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars," said Jeff Kerr, General Counsel for PETA.
According to a search warrant filed by the Oklahoma City Police Department, PETA first contacted police in May about is investigation. The search warrant says during PETA's investigation of the conference, they "witnessed numerous individuals place bets" and also saw people "accept the funds for" the "bets."
"If a bird isn't successful, doesn't win, or even if the bird returns but isn't in the money, that bird has no value to the racers," said Kerr. "And so, what they will do is they will kill the birds so that they won't have to incur the expense of feeding or caring for them."
Kerr says he's glad the police department is taking his organization's allegations against the people behind the pigeon racing seriously.
"We hope that the investigation will lead the authorities to prosecute those responsible to stop this illegal activity," said Kerr. "Plain and simple."
The police department's investigation is ongoing. So far, no charged have been filed and they have not made any arrests.
STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN RACING PIGEON UNION:
"The accusations by PETA are inaccurate and misguided," said Karen Clifton, Executive Director of the American Racing Pigeon Union. Pigeon racing is a centuries-old sport enjoyed by thousands of Americans. "You see people ages 4 to 84 caring for these amazing birds, and many of our members who are retirees are now sharing their love for racing pigeons with their grandchildren," she said.
The American Racing Pigeon Union was founded in 1909, and is the largest organization of pigeon enthusiasts in the United States. Clifton explained that since 1996 the Union has had in place a code of ethics to ensure humane and compassionate treatment of racing pigeons. She also explained that members of the Union are required to follow government regulations regarding care of the birds.
For more information visit www.pigeon.org http://www.pigeon.org
Posted: Friday, July 27 2012, 10:00 PM CDT
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Tornado watch issued for western, central Oklahoma
May 18, 2013 22:57 GMT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A tornado watch is in effect for western and central Oklahoma.
The weather system brought severe thunderstorms to the Altus and Clinton areas, as well as Harper County late Saturday afternoon. There were no reports of rotation as evening approached but the tornado watch lasts until 11 p.m. Saturday.
The dangerous weather is forecast to continue into Sunday night as the system progresses to the east.
The tornado watch area Saturday stretched from eastern edge of the Panhandle to include the Oklahoma City area.
Forecasters warn that the system could also bring large hail.
The National Weather Service in Norman reports tennis ball-size hail along U.S. 62 near the border of Harmon and Jackson counties in the state's far southwest.
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