Community input sought on rooster ownership

In May, the Sheriff's Department made the largest seizure in connection with an alleged cockfighting ring, in U.S. history. Courtesy | LASD
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The county’s Department of Animal Care and Control is set to present a community forum in Acton next month in the wake of a December motion by the Board of Supervisors to study limiting rooster ownership.

The discussion comes after the largest seizure of cockfighting fowl in American history took last May in Val Verde. The meeting is set for March.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger co-authored a motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis Dec. 19 ordering the Department of Animal Care and Control to report back to the board with recommendations on limiting the keeping of roosters in unincorporated areas of the county.

Last May, officials raided an 80-acre lot in Val Verde and seized more than 7,800 birds bred for cockfighting. Authorities with the sheriff’s department, animal control, and other supporting agencies said they seized 50 guard dogs, illegal cockfighting paraphernalia, drugs and guns. The fighting birds were humanely killed after being deemed unfit for adoption, a spokesperson for animal control said.

The same Val Verde property was the site of a 2007 seizure of more than 2,700 cockfighting birds.

“Cockfighting is an inhumane crime in which animals are forced to fight to the death for amusement and gain,” Barger and Solis wrote in their motion. “Other crimes such as gambling, illegal drugs, weapons, prostitution, and child abuse occur during these fights. Cockfighting operations are not limited to rural areas. In many cases, property owners with close neighbors may keep hundreds of these birds. The keeping of such large numbers of fighting birds creates significant problems of excessive noise, flies, and potential sources of disease such as Avian Flu or Exotic Newcastle Disease. They interfere with residents’ ability to peacefully enjoy their properties and reduce property values.”

Barger and Solis said other counties in California have adopted ordinances limiting the ownership of roosters.

“These ordinances have helped to reduce or eliminate illegal rooster fighting in their counties, as well as the associated crimes and quality of life issues that come with them. Los Angeles County should have the same protections for its residents,” the supervisors wrote.

The meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the Acton/Agua Dulce library, 33792 Crown Valley Road. Residents who can’t attend can send comments via email to [email protected].

Forums are “a good way for the community to have input,” said Barger’s spokesman Tony Bell, who referred to the cockfighting operation in Val Verde as “horrific criminal activity.”

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