Pigeon racing? Who knew?
In NYC, only horses are allowed to race for monetary prizes. But did you know that at The Bronx Homing Pigeon Club, and at clubs across the country, you can participate in pigeon racing for points and/or cash? PETA did. The animal rights group went undercover for about 15 months to expose the lucrative and, allegedly, inhumane treatment of birds in pigeon racing, a “hobby” that generates $15 million a year in gambling and kills thousands of birds.
“The clubs are nothing but unlawful racketeering enterprises,” said Jeff Kerr, a top lawyer for PETA, who will present 17 law enforcement agencies with videotape evidence and documents of the abuse, according to the New York Daily News.
“In the races, the trained homing pigeons are driven hundreds of miles away from their coops and then released. The bird that flies home the fastest wins. For its World Trade Center Memorial Race, the Bronx club charges a $100 entry fee per bird, and advertises that a first-place winner will be awarded 30,000 ‘points.’ They euphemistically refer to the prize dollars as points,” Kerr charged. “That’s just an indication they know it’s illegal.”
PETA says racers often plunk down large bets on other competitors’ birds. However, the Bronx club’s officials denied gambling takes place during pigeon racing, and said points are points, earning members trinkets and bragging rights, nothing more, reported the Daily News.
“There is no gambling,” said club president Lou Bernardone. “We give trophies. You get nice big plaques with your name on it and everything,” adds Bernardone.
Coming soon, Mass Appeal‘s next Beastin’ segment features Mario Costa Jr., longtime friend of Mike Tyson, and caretaker for Iron Mike’s pigeons.