More than 140 roosters were euthanized after Riverside County Sheriff’s officers caught an illegal cockfight in Jurupa Valley on Friday, authorities said.
At about 10:36 p.m., officers responded to a call about an illegal cockfighting rally at 5900 block of Troth Street. When deputies arrived at the house, 200 people dispersed and 143 birds were found in cages throughout the property, many of them dead or seriously injured, Sgt. Patrick Samosky said in a statement.
John Welsh, a spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, described the scene as chaotic when officers arrived. People scrambled away from the property in an attempt to escape and some birdcages were crushed in the stampede, he said.
Welsh said all 143 birds had to be euthanized because the department “can’t adopt those birds because they are valuable and they would almost always come back in a cockfight ring.”
“These birds were bred to be fighting birds,” Welsh said. “So you can’t take these 143 birds and put them on a farm. They just kill each other. They should all be separated. But there is always a concern on our side of [whether] these birds end up in another cockfight operation.”
The unnamed homeowner who lives where the cockfight took place claimed ownership of all 143 birds and turned them over to the Department of Animal Services, which humanely euthanized them on Saturday, authorities said. The homeowner was also charged with possession of fighting knives used in a cockfight by Riverside County animal protection officers.
Welsh said some of the birds found still had fighting knives strapped to their bodies and wings with plumber’s tape, posing additional dangers to animal control officers trying to capture them.
Welsh said illegal cockfighting has a strong history in Riverside, with animal protection officials answering calls for illegal rings every other month, but it has since declined in recent years.
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 US states and can be considered a felony or misdemeanor in California. The Riverside County Department of Animal Services is attempting to file an animal cruelty charge against the homeowner with the Riverside County District Attorney.