Los Angeles Times

143 cockfighti­ng roosters are euthanized

Authoritie­s say the birds were seized in a raid at a Riverside County home.

- By Melissa Hernandez

More than 140 roosters were euthanized after Riverside County sheriff ’s deputies busted a cockfighti­ng event in Jurupa Valley on Friday night, authoritie­s said.

At 10:36 p.m., deputies responded to a call about a cockfighti­ng gathering in the 5900 block of Troth Street. When deputies arrived at the home, about 200 people scattered, and birds were found caged throughout the property, many of them dead or severely injured, Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Samosky said in a statement.

John Welsh, a spokespers­on for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, said that the scene was chaotic when deputies arrived. People were scrambling away from the property in an attempt to escape, and some of the birds’ cages were crushed in the stampede, he said.

Welsh said all of the surviving birds had to be euthanized because the department “cannot adopt out such birds, as they are valuable and they would almost always end up back in a cockfighti­ng ring.”

“These birds are bred to be fighting birds,” he said. “So you can’t take these 143 birds and put them on a farm. They’re just going to peck each other to death. They’d have to all be segregated. But there’s always a concern on our end of [whether] these birds will end up in another cockfighti­ng operation.”

The unnamed homeowner where the cockfighti­ng event took place claimed ownership of all 143 birds and surrendere­d them to the Department of Animal Services, which euthanized them on Saturday, authoritie­s said.

The homeowner was also cited for possession of fighting blades used in a cockfighti­ng event.

Welsh said some of the birds had fighting blades attached to their bodies and wings with plumber’s tape, which posed additional danger to animal control officials attempting to capture them.

He said that cockfighti­ng has a strong past in Riverside County, with animal control officials answering calls on illegal rings every other month, but that it has waned in recent years.

Cockfighti­ng is illegal in all 50 states, and can bring a misdemeano­r or felony charge in California.

The Department of Animal Services is pursuing felony animal cruelty charges against the homeowner through the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

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