This weekend, at the request of the New York State Attorney General's Office, the ASPCA, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police, assisted with the removal, transport and sheltering of as many as 4,000 fighting roosters in the largest cockfighting case in New York State history.
On Saturday, February 8, the ASPCA seized 65 birds as a result of a cockfighting bust by law enforcement agencies in Woodhaven, Queens. Six arrests were made for violation of the animal fighting law. The ASPCA also discovered rooster carcasses that had been killed earlier in the night during the cockfighting event.
Simultaneously, police executed a search warrant at Pet NV, a pet shop in Brooklyn, resulting in the seizure of 50 roosters as well as other animals including hamsters, finches, rabbits and snakes. ASPCA responders found the roosters living inside metal cages in the basement of the pet shop, with physical alterations to the roosters consistent with cockfighting.
At both properties, cockfighting paraphernalia, including artificial spurs, candle wax, medical adhesive tape, syringes used to inject performance enhancing drugs to strengthen the roosters’ fighting ability, was discovered.
The following morning, February 9, the ASPCA assisted law enforcement agencies as they raided a 90-acre farm where as many as 6,000 roosters and hens were seized. The farm had operated for years under the guise of a live poultry farm, and the birds were living in deplorable conditions. Many showed signs of starvation and other conditions requiring medical attention. The owner of the property collected rent from rooster owners and blood sport enthusiasts in exchange for boarding, feeding and caring for their birds.
The ASPCA established a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location, where the birds will be cared for and housed pending disposition.
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states. In New York, cockfighting and possession of a fighting bird at a cockfighting location are felonies, with each charge carrying a maximum penalty of four years in jail and a maximum fine of $25,000. Additionally, attending a cockfight is a misdemeanor, with a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The ASPCA has been closely following the progress of the federal Farm Bill for months. This mammoth bill contains many complex rules and provisions on a wide array of issues, most of which you haven’t heard anything about unless you’re a politician or a farmer. Now that it’s passed, one provision in particular deserves your attention because it will make a big difference in the fight to end animal cruelty.
Thanks in part to the work of the ASPCA and advocates from around the country, the Farm Bill includes a measure to strengthen federal animal fighting laws by making attending an animal fight a federal offense. It also imposes additional penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight.
These changes send a clear message: animal fighting is so vile, so unconscionable, that accountability shouldn’t end with those participating directly. Anyone attending an animal fight is a participant, and any participation is wrong—especially when you bring along impressionable children or facilitate the events through illegal wagers and admission fees. No child should witness animals being forced to maul each other beyond recognition; or be exposed to grownups torturing animals mercilessly, gleefully, profiting from their pain. It’s not just a traumatic experience for them; it breeds desensitization to violence, abuse, and atrocity. That paints a pretty bleak future.
And if you think animal fighting is a rare event restricted to small communities, think again. You need only go back to last year’s major dog-fighting raids, one in March involving nearly 100 dogs in Missouri, Kansas and Texas, and another in August involving 367 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. We were proud to play a leading role in each, but we also know that for every fight we disrupt, many more go on undisturbed.
While we celebrate this law as a victory for animals, we also express relief for what it didn’t include: namely, a dangerous amendment introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would have decimated state animal cruelty laws across the country by preventing states from passing and enforcing their own laws regarding the production of “agricultural products.” Such products could include farm animals, dogs in puppy mills, and even locally grown fruits and vegetables. Grabbing that power from the states would set a dangerous precedent and leave animals unprotected.
History shows us time and time again that where there’s money to be made, defenseless animals often pay the highest price. Thanks to our collective efforts, Congress took a stand for them, and for children. It may not be the part of the Farm Bill getting the most attention, but it’s the part best protecting the most vulnerable among us.
The ASPCA will assist the Charlotte community in various ways, including by helping our partner organizations to determine and monitor their goals and strategies. The Charlotte partners will also have the opportunity to apply for substantial grant funding from the ASPCA to address the community’s animal welfare needs. The agencies will have access to ASPCA resources, expertise and guidance, as well as strategic planning support, statistical analysis, training and participation in ground-breaking research projects.
Welcome, Charlotte—we can’t wait to work with you!
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In late January, the ASPCA FIR team rescued 40 dogs from Dream Catcher Kennels, a large-scale, inhumane commercial breeding facility (also known as a puppy mill) in Nancy, Kentucky. Now, nearly three weeks later, the majority of these dogs are ready to put the horrors of breeding behind them and find their true forever homes.
After their rescue on January 21, the dogs were housed in a temporary shelter where they received medical attention, behavioral enrichment and socialization to reduce stress and improve mental health. They are now being transferred to Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) and Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) in Columbus, Ohio, to be made available for adoption.
“Today is a turning point for these dogs as they move toward life in a home with owners who treat them with respect,” says Jessica Rushin, Partnerships Manager for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.
Of the 40+ rescues, only six of the dogs are not yet ready for adoption. They are en route to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, NJ, where they will receive further treatment for under-socialization and extreme fear—remnants of the trauma caused by living in a puppy mill for years. We are optimistic about their success and expect them to be suitable for adoption in the coming weeks.
As for the kennel owner, Dennis Bradley, the future is less bright. He has pled guilty to animal cruelty in the second degree and received six months in jail probated for a term of 24 months. He will not be allowed to operate a kennel or breeding operation for the duration of his probation.
While we are pleased with the progress of this particular case, our work is far from done. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation to the ASPCA. In addition, help us continue our fight against puppy mills by taking our pledge not to buy anything in pet stores that sell puppies at www.NoPetStorePuppies.com.
The state-of-the-art adoptions vehicle will enable AC&C to bring adoptable animals to previously unreachable New Yorkers throughout the City’s five boroughs. The vehicle was purchased with the help of a $60,000 grant from the ASPCA and a $60,000 donation from Fenwick Keats Real Estate.
AC&C’s three full-service Care Centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island are open for adoptions seven days a week, but its facilities in the Bronx and Queens are Pet Receiving Centers and do not serve adopters. With approximately 30,000 cats, dogs and other animals in need coming to AC&C each year, this new Mobile Adoption Center will play a vital role in increasing adoptions as well as raising awareness of shelter pets in need.
We’re excited to be part of this important initiative for animals in New York City. If you’re in the area, please join us for the AC&C Mobile Adoption Center’s unveiling and a special adoption event this Sunday, February 9 at 11:00 A.M. in the Union Square Park North Plaza (East 17th Street between Broadway and Park Ave.). We hope to see you there!