LA County Could Place Limits on Rooster Ownership to Curb Cockfighting

"Cockfighting is an inhumane crime in which animals are forced to fight to the death for amusement and gain"

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to take steps to limit the number of roosters residents can keep, aiming to stop illegal cockfighting.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger pointed to the seizure of nearly 7,000 birds in a May 15 raid in the unincorporated community of Val Verde.

"Cockfighting is an inhumane crime in which animals are forced to fight to the death for amusement and gain," Barger said in her motion, co- authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. "Other crimes such as gambling, illegal drugs, weapons, prostitution and child abuse occur during these fights."

The Val Verde raid in the Santa Clarita Valley was the largest seizure of illegal cockfighting birds in U.S. history, according to the county Department of Animal Care and Control.

All of those birds had to be euthanized because of the aggressive nature of roosters bred for fighting and also because of concerns about the spread of disease. Thousands of chickens statewide had to be euthanized in 2003 when fighting chickens brought from Mexico into the U.S. were found to have Exotic Newcastle Disease.

Neighbors are typically alerted by noise and odor when large numbers of birds are housed nearby. But paraphernalia for fights is often kept separate from the birds, making it hard for deputies to make arrests and shut down illegal operations.

A number of California counties have fought back by adopting ordinances restricting the keeping of roosters, and Barger and Kuehl said the changes have been effective.

"Los Angeles County should have the same protections for its residents," according to their motion.

County lawyers and animal control personnel were directed to come up with a recommendation to limit the number of birds and report back in 30 days. Any ordinance would apply only to unincorporated areas of the county.

Officials urged anyone observing animal abuse or neglect to call animal care and control officials at (562) 940-6898 and to report any cockfight in action to 911.

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