PAUMA VALLEY - Animal control officers serving search warrants at three locations as part of a cockfighting investigation today seized 500 chickens and paraphernalia related to the illegal spectator sport at a home on a ranch north of Escondido.
The raids in Pauma Valley and Orange County began simultaneously in the mid-morning, according to the San Diego County Department of Animal Services.
The properties belong to a 66-year-old restaurateur who was not present during the searches, DAS spokesman Dan DeSousa said.
When contacted by telephone, the owner, whose name was not released, would not say where he was and refused to provide any other information without his lawyer present, according to DeSousa.
At the 17-acre property on Rincon Ranch Road in northern San Diego County, investigators found numerous roosters whose combs, waddles and spurs had been cut off, as is standard practice by purveyors of cockfighting. Also seized were about 400 small knives of a type attached to the legs of fighting birds, as well as trophies and photographs related to the blood sport.
At a residence in Fullerton and a Mexican restaurant in Anaheim, meanwhile, officers confiscated more evidence, including about 100 more cockfighting knives, the spokesman said.
The impounded chickens will have to be euthanized because their trained aggressiveness makes them unsuitable for any legitimate purpose, according to DeSousa.
Upon completion of the investigation, which grew out of a report last month about neglected-looking horses on the Pauma Valley property, the case will be forwarded to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office for possible prosecution.
It is a misdemeanor to possess any bird for purposes of cockfighting, to stage such a contest or to be a spectator at one, DeSousa said. Felony charges can result when injuries to birds result from the illicit practice.