California authorities ‘humanely euthanize’ 143 roosters after cockfight

Authorities broke up a large cockfight over the weekend and said they were forced to euthanize nearly 150 roosters found in a Southern California home, animal control and sheriff’s department officials said.

Deputies late Friday discovered about 200 people at the residence in the town of Jurupa Valley and “evidence of an illegal cockfight and several dead or badly injured birds,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Another 143 birds were found in cages on the property about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, the statement said.

Cockfighting is a blood sport in which two or more birds known as “wild roosters” fight in a pit, usually to the death, for entertainment and gambling purposes, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The practice, which is banned in all 50 states, is often linked to other criminal activities, including illegal gambling, drug trafficking, gang activity and illegal gun sales, according to the organization’s website.

Authorities broke up a major cockfight over the weekend and said they were forced to euthanize nearly 150 roosters found in a Southern California home

Riverside County Department of Animal Services

Officers with the county’s Department of Animal Services rounded up all the live roosters “and humanely euthanized them, a process that lasted until about 6 a.m.,” according to a statement from that agency.

“The birds must be euthanized because Animal Services cannot adopt out such birds since they are valuable and they will almost always end up back in a cockfighting ring. They are not suitable as pets,” according to the agency’s statement.

An unidentified man who told officials he owned the birds was cited for possession of fighting blades, used in cockfighting, which is a misdemeanor, officials said. The investigation continues.

The razor-sharp steel blades, known as “gaffs,” are usually tied to the birds’ legs and are so sharp that cockfighters have even been killed by their own birds when accidentally cut, the Humane Society said.

Birds participating in cockfighting are often subjected to animal abuse, including being injected with steroids and being deprived of stimuli before fights and once in the ring often suffer injuries such as punctured lungs and punctured eyes, according to the Humane Society.

Earlier this year, officials in Texas seized 133 birds from a southeast Dallas property where a cockfight allegedly took place. The SPCA of Texas took custody of the animals, including 123 roosters, eight hens and two dead roosters.

Despite being banned in the United States, cockfighting remains legal and popular in countries such as the Philippines, where it was temporarily banned during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Dominican Republic.

In 2019, Puerto Rico defied the US government and approved a law to keep cockfighting alive in an effort to protect a 400-year-old tradition practiced across the island, despite a federal ban that went into effect that year. Puerto Rican officials argued that the US government banned fighting for economic and not animal welfare reasons, but the Supreme Court chose to keep the ban upheld by lower courts.

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