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Authorities break up cockfighting ring in Riverside County

April 11, 2010 |  8:58 pm

Thirty-seven roosters were euthanized Sunday morning after Riverside County authorities broke up a cockfighting ring near the Salton Sea.

Acting on a tip, a dozen Riverside County sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers busted the open-air cockfight shortly after 10 a.m. in the 100000 block of Avenue 72, known as the North Shore area, said John Welsh of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

“Everybody bolted and nobody took ownership of the birds or the property,” Welsh said.

Deputies in four-wheel-drive vehicles chased spectators out into the desert, Welsh said. Thirty-two participants were arrested for misdemeanor animal cruelty, according to a sheriff’s press release.

Of the 40 roosters found on the premises, three had already been killed during the event, Welsh said. The other 37 were given lethal injections by animal control officers.

“Roosters raised to be cock fighters, you can’t put them up for adoption,” Welsh said.. “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.”

--Jason Felch