More than 140 roosters were euthanized after Riverside County sheriff’s deputies busted an illegal cockfighting event in Jurupa Valley on Friday, authorities said.
At around 10:36 p.m., deputies responded to a call about an illegal cockfighting gathering in the 5900 block of Troth Street. When deputies arrived at the home, 200 people scattered, and 143 birds were found caged throughout the property, many of them dead or severely injured, Sgt. Patrick Samosky said in a statement.
John Welsh, a Riverside County Department of Animal Services spokesperson, described the scene as chaotic when deputies arrived. People were scrambling away from the property in attempt to escape and some of the bird cages were crushed in the stampede, he said.
Welsh said all 143 birds needed 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,” Welsh 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.”
One of the 143 birds euthanized by the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
(Riverside County Department of Animal Services)
The unnamed homeowner who lives where the cockfighting event took place claimed ownership of all 143 birds, and surrendered them to the Department of Animal Services, which humanely euthanized them on Saturday, authorities said. The homeowner was also cited for possession of fighting blades used in a cockfighting event by Riverside County animal control officials.
Welsh said some of the birds found still had fighting blades strapped around their bodies and wings with plumbers tape, which posed additional dangers to animal control officials attempting to capture them.
Welsh said illegal cockfighting has a strong past in Riverside, with animal service officials answering calls for illegal rings every other month, but it’s since waned in recent years.
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 U.S. states and can be considered a misdemeanor or felony charge in California. The Riverside County Department of Animal Services is seeking to file felony animal cruelty charges against the homeowner with the Riverside County district attorney’s office.
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