More than 50 roosters were turned over to the Monterey County SPCA last month after investigators served a search warrant at a Prunedale residence.
A search on March 26 at a Castroville Boulevard residence turned up evidence of an ongoing cockfighting operation, as well as training and breeding of fighting roosters. Illegal sharpened knives and gaffs -- sharp spurs that are attached to roosters' feet -- were recovered from the home and training sheds. Investigators also found training records, drugs and medications used to further the birds' aggressive fighting skills. Videos of training and illegal fights were recovered from the suspect’s bedroom.
A total of 53 fighting roosters were surrendered to the SPCA.
A week later, Monterey County Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of a cockfight in progress on Lockwood-San Lucas Road. Twenty recently-deceased roosters with gaping wounds were found, and fourteen severely injured roosters were confiscated by authorities. Those birds had to be humanely euthanized.
Forty or more suspects fled the scene when deputies arrived, leaving their vehicles and roosters behind. The investigation is ongoing.
Cockfighting and the possession of the knives and gaffs is illegal in California, Monterey County allows residents in unincorporated areas to own up to 499 roosters without a permit.
In a cockfight, two roosters fight each other to the death while spectators place bets. During cockfights, birds wear razor-like knives on their legs and slash each other until one of them collapses or dies.
"Cockfighters often administer illegal drugs to enhance the bird’s performance, let the birds suffer untreated injuries, and throw the losing birds away in trash barrels," according to SPCA spokeswoman Beth Brookhouser.
If you have any information about cockfighting, please contact the SPCA at 373-2631 or call 911. You can also make a report online.
To view images taken of the roosters and the cockfighting operation, click here. Warning: Some of these images contain graphic injuries.