A suspected cockfighting ring was broken up on August 22nd when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a warrant at a house on 90th street in the Juniper Hills area of Antelope Valley. Police seized 279 birds, a shotgun, medicine for the birds, as well as razor blades that can be fitted to a rooster’s leg. An individual who was on the property at the time was taken into custody, but not formally arrested. Police are hoping that his cooperation can lead to multiple arrests. A first cockfighting offense is a misdemeanor, but merely being involved can bring a litany of other charges.
Of the 279 birds found, 239 of them are roosters that had their waddles, combs and rear feathers removed, a sign that the birds were being groomed to fight. Traditionally, these features are removed to make the birds less vulnerable during a fight. The other 40 birds are hens and were probably used for breeding. One of the commanding officers at the scene said that finding a ring with over 200 birds is rare and that its more common to find 100 or fewer birds. Though, unfortunately most of the birds are euthanized as their aggressive nature makes it nearly impossible to socialize them.
Cockfighting is believed to be a 6,000 year-old blood sport. It has roots in Persia, India, China and other Eastern countries. Cockfighting also became popular in ancient Greece and Rome. Over the course of centuries cockfighting spread to Southeast Asia and The Americas and enjoyed a brief period of popularity in England. One of the first known books about cockfighting was written there in 1607.
Depending on the region, gamecocks may or may not be fitted with “gaffs,” which can be sharpened metal spurs or other types of razor blades. For example, gamecocks in India will usually have their natural spurs sharpened as opposed to being outfitted with gaffs. Not all fights are to the death. In fact some fights last only 3 to 4 rounds, after which a winner is chosen. But most cockfights will result in great physical trauma to at least one bird.
Cockfighting remains a very popular spectator sport all over the world. And with the exception of Europe and The United States, it also remains legal in very many places. This is of course due to the fact that there’s money in it. A single cockfight can bring in tens of thousands of dollars worth of bets.
Authorities in Antelope Valley noted that there has been an increase in cockfighting recently, but have also noted that more people are calling in to report it.