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Spectators cited, roosters euthanized in Sunday raid on cockfighting operation in Riverside County

April 13, 2010 |  6:43 pm

Cockfighting raid Thirty-two people were cited for offenses including cruelty to animals, cockfighting and being a spectator at a cockfighting event during a Sunday morning raid in an unincorporated area of Riverside County near the Salton Sea, according to officials with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Cockfight spectators typically scatter when an event is raided by authorities, but the animal services department credits the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for coordinating the raid in a way that made it difficult for spectators to escape.

"The Sheriff's Department even had deputies on off-road quad vehicles to catch the runners that tried to escape into the desert," Sgt. James Huffman of the animal services department said in a statement. "We appreciated that level of enforcement. It sends a message to those that attend these illegal fights that we're taking them very seriously."

No one at the cockfight claimed ownership of the birds or the property on which they were found, animal services spokesperson John Welsh told our sister blog, L.A. Now.

When authorities arrived on the scene, three roosters had already died from injuries sustained in cockfights earlier in the morning. Thirty-seven other roosters were seized and euthanized by animal services staff, in accordance with the department's policy that roosters seized from cockfighting rings aren't to be adopted into new homes.

By way of explaining the no-adoption policy on such birds, Welsh told L.A. Now, "They’ll fall into nefarious situations where someone would sell them on the black market. You can't put them in a cage with other birds, they will just kill all the chickens."

"Their fate is to be humanely euthanized in the field," Welsh said. "It's better than that barbaric tournament."

An investigation into the cockfighting ring is ongoing, according to the Sheriff's Department.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: One of the roosters seized in Sunday's operation. Credit: Lisa Boughamer / Riverside County Animal Services

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