A raid carried out on a Val Verde cockfighting operation has netted the largest seizure of birds bred for fighting in the U.S. history, authorities reported Tuesday.
An estimated 7,000 birds were found at a suspected cockfighting operation in Val Verde when authorities raided the place Monday afternoon.
Authorities also found other animals and some 50 guard dogs.
Unsuitable for adoption, however, the fighting birds have to be humanely killed, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, told The Signal Tuesday.
“They found about 7,000 birds,” Don Barre said, with her noting they were all chickens – roosters and hens. “They will not be made available for adoption.
“There is no sanctuary for fighting birds,” she said. “This is because they are very aggressive and cannot be housed with any other chickens. Even the hens would attack other hens. These are not pets.”
Barre cited “concerns for public and animal health.”
Details about the multi-agency task force raid were released at a press conference held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday morning.
Authorities represented by a number of community agencies including county Animal Care and Control officers described the raid as the “largest seizure of flying fowl used for illegal cockfighting and breeding for illegal cockfighting purposes.”
The raid was carried out on a property on the 29000 block of Jackson Street in Val Verde, which covered about 80 acres.
“Our veterinarians were on site in Val Verde when it happened,” Barre said.
Barre said one of the photos unveiled during the press conference showed five dead birds in a bag.
At least eight people were detained during the operation including the owners of the bird-holding property, LASD Sgt. Bob Boese told The Signal.
“There were no arrests but eight to 10 were detained,” he said, noting detectives and prosecutors are in the process of articulating what appropriate laws were allegedly broken before arrests are made.
“The 7,000 birds were a mix of roosters, chickens and chicks,” Boese said. “We found seven that were dead and several injured.
“The injured birds were not injured as in bloodied after a fight, but had injuries at various stages of healing,” he said.
“This was a breeding operation and also a place where the fights took place,” he said.
Birds fed steroids
Enforcement officers were forced to use bullhorns to communicate during the raid due to the noisy ruckus created by the hens.
Officers taking part in the raid played a video at the press conference explaining the world of illegal cockfighting, Barre said.
“One of the things the video showed was how they make the birds take steroids to make them bigger,” she said.
Cockfighting is between two roosters fighting each other to death, according to The Humane Society of the United States.
Detectives of the LASD’s Community Partnerships Bureau described the raid as an “extensive rescue in Santa Clarita Valley.”
“A number of the roosters and hens are currently very ill,” Barre said. “Also, there is the risk that they could be carriers of disease such as Avian Flu, or Exotic Newcastle’s Disease.
“These are serious concerns that could have consequences that could impact the poultry industry as well as public health,” she said.
Barre noted that in 2003 Exotic Newcastle Disease was found in fighting roosters brought into California from Mexico. Thousands of chickens in the state had to be humanely killed to prevent devastation of the poultry industry.
“Cockfighters, or rooster handlers, let those birds who suffer injuries during cockfights go untreated or throw the birds away in the trash afterwards,” LASD detectives said in a news release issued late Monday.
“Having the birds fight to death along with letting them go untreated, is not only cruel but often times goes hand in hand with gambling, drug dealing, illegal gun sales and murder.”
Weapons including at least two handguns were also seized during Monday’s operation.
Also seized during the raid was a “small amount of methamphetamine,” Boese said
Deputies in at least half a dozen LASD vehicles converged on a street in Val Verde shortly after 2:45 p.m. Monday.
Other agencies assisting the LASD in the raid included: the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Humane Society of the United States and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.
The birds, goats and about 50 guard dogs were turned over to the County’s Animal Care and Control department.
The guard dogs seized in the raid are being evaluated by medical staff at our animal care centers, Barre said.
“We will know more (Wednesday) about any availability for potential adoption,” she said.
Our protocol for all incoming dogs is to vaccinate, de-worm, evaluate and recommend treatment for health issues.
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