In July, a major cockfighting ring was busted in Sacramento. Some 600 birds were discovered and 30-60 men, women and children were present at the fight. The facility served as a breeding operation and a fighting operation - most of the 600 birds were not owned by the property owner but some were. Unfortunately, the sheriff department neglected to keep an officer present 24 hours at the site. After one night of no one present...only 70 of the 600 fighting roosters remained. Also present were nearly a hundred hens and chicks.
Last week, we received a call about the hens (we were unaware the facility was also a breeding operation). A member of another animal-rights group contacted Sac County Animal Care & Regulation (AC&R) about confiscating the hens. The woman emailed several farmed animal sanctuaries and we (Animal Place) said yes. We coordinated a meetup with Sac County AC&R to go out to the property and start catching birds.
So yesterday, I spent my evening running around a dilapidated, ugly piece of crap property trying to net hens and chicks. It was an endeavor. We went at night, expecting calmer, perching birds. But the property was created by someone with a hacksaw, wood, nails and a poor sense of style. Navigation was tough, what with all the broken glass, splintered wood and beer bottles strewn about. We managed to get most of them, though and will try to get the rest tomorrow.
In Sac County, this is the fourth cockfighting bust this year.
The shelter received custody of the birds today - all 70 of the fighting roosters were killed. I met the birds yesterday - they very people and rooster-aggressive birds. They were stunningly beautiful. It's tragic they have to die because of human cruelty. Even some of the females are hard-core aggressive; we've euthanized one hen because she was severely wounded in a fight with another hen. Two more were injured. Most of the hens are not aggressive, though.
Here's the rub about cockfighting in California: it's a misdemeanor. You can fight your rooster and the worst penalty you'll receive is not felony-level. It's legal to raise fighting roosters too.
I took pictures at the property. See the rest behind the cut.
These are the stereotypical rooster shacks. Individual birds are tethered with a short leather lead. They have a bucket or a plastic jug for water. This is their entire existence between fights.
These are other sheds where individual birds were housed. Each shed had several cages for the birds.
The property was covered in debris. In the pit, there were around 500-1,000 bottles of empty corona beer bottles. Scratch marks and blood spatter covered some wood.
More of the rooster housing.
I can only guess that the owners didn't like this rooster - his water jug had no hole for him to actually DRINK the water.
One of several dead hens and chicks. Because the birds weren't confiscated or fed properly, they have been fending for themselves for the past several weeks. Many have been killed by predators, lost fights or starved to death.
Another set of sheds (note the empty laundry detergent box in the left corner).
Like I said, some of the birds hadn't eaten in awhile. It's hard to tell with this picture, but this hen is seeing if a dead squirrel is edible (she decided it wasn't).
One of the chicks. I named her April or Chickie McPhee. She's my new best pal. I just have to get past her mother to say hi, which is dangerous due to her mother's human-hand pecking needs.
This is her mom. Cute story. Because we didn't have enough crates, we had to separate the babies from their mothers. We weren't happy about this. Somehow, this mom managed to sneak her ONE itty-bitty chick, April, into another carrier. She protected her baby for the whole ride back to the sanctuary. When we discovered the broody mama in the back of the crate, we thought "Hey! let's see if she wants eight more babies!" We started stuffing chicks underneath her. She seemed quite pleased to discover nine babies instead of one. She's taking excellent care of them (except for the "eat your own poop" fiasco).
How April feels about cockfighters. This is her "I'm super mad, put me down" glare.
More updates later, I'm sure.