San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies broke up a large cockfighting ring at El Cuervo Avocado Packing Yard in the 3800 block of De Luz Road early November 23 after responding to a call made by neighbors to report roosters crowing and people cheering.
According to Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Foster, some 80 to 100 people ran into the surrounding grove when Border Patrol and Sheriff’s deputies arrived, but 25 participants were detained and 16 were arrested and released after given a citation to appear in court.
The owner of the property where the cockfights were held admitted ownership of between 250 and 300 of the birds and turned them over to San Diego County Animal Control Services. The birds were all humanely euthanized.
“These birds could never be placed on a farm with other chickens; they would tear any other birds apart,” said Lt. Dan DeSousa of the animal control division. “It was better to humanely euthanize them than to let them be torn apart into shreds in the ring.”
Officers found one dead bird and another wounded bird on the property. If anyone at the scene can be tied to the dead or injured birds, they could face felony animal cruelty charges, said DeSousa.
Animal Services also seized 53 unclaimed birds found in boxes near the arena and placed them in the Carlsbad and Bonita animal shelters until County officials decide what their fate will be.
At the packing yard, officials found a simply made cockfighting arena constructed of hay bales, as well as a concession stand stocked with enough food and “stacks of beer” for “an all-day event,” said DeSousa.
Several dozen vehicles were detained at the scene as well and officials have taken down license plate information in order to question the vehicles’ owners about their whereabouts and as to why their cars were found on the property.
Attending a cockfight, possessing a bird with the intent to cockfight and possession of cockfighting implements are all misdemeanors, making cockfighting rings very much “underground operations,” said DeSousa.
In order to prevent cockfights and other activities involving animal abuse, Animal Services relies on the help of concerned citizens who share the information with officials. DeSousa hopes citizens who suspect animal abuse in any form will contact the agency.
“We want people to understand that any activity that involves something dying is not a sport,” said DeSousa. “This will not be condoned in San Diego County and anyone who is caught participating in this type of activity will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
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