ASPCA Assists Indiana Gaming Commission with Removal of Animals from Cockfighting Case

October 3, 2014

Connersville, Ind.—At the request of the Indiana Gaming Commission Gaming Control Division, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) alongside several local agencies, is assisting in the removal of more than 15 birds and dogs from properties associated with cockfighting in Fayette and Henry counties in Indiana.

The investigation began as a cockfighting investigation initiated by the Greensburg and Bargersville Police Department, who contacted the Indiana Gaming Commission when it was determined that the case involved multiple jurisdictions. The Indiana State Police, Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office, Indiana Board of Animal Health, Johnson County Animal Control, Indiana Department of Transportation, and Henry County Prosecutor’s office are also assisting in the operation.

Search warrants were executed Thursday morning for the seizure of the roosters and the remaining animals were subsequently surrendered. The ASPCA is assisting with the intake and removal of the animals, and will transport the animals to a temporary shelter established by the Johnson County Animal Control, where they will receive medical exams and veterinary care.

“A great deal of money is wagered on animal fights,” said Larry Rollins, director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, Gaming Control Division. “The people involved in these activities are commonly involved in illegal drugs, thefts and other crimes. It is something we take seriously and will continue to investigate.”

“The roosters were being sold for cockfighting, a disturbingly merciless crime that victimizes powerless animals for the entertainment of their owners,” said Kathryn Destreza, investigations director of ASPCA Field Investigations & Response. “We’re pleased to work with local authorities in removing these animals from a cruel situation and sending a message that cockfighting and other crimes against animals will not be tolerated in this community or anywhere in the country.”

Upon arriving at the properties, responders discovered some of the animals appeared to be malnourished and suffering from medical issues. The animals were living in inadequate conditions without access to proper food or water.

The Indiana state veterinarian and Indiana Gaming Commission are collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution. ASPCA cockfighting experts are guiding evidence collection to identify tools, drugs and other paraphernalia used in cockfighting. The animals will remain at the temporary shelter until custody is determined.

During cock fights, birds commonly suffer from injuries including punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes. These injuries are often the result of knives and artificial gaffs—long, dagger-like attachments—that are attached to the birds to maximize injury. Often, steroids or other drugs are administered to the birds to make them more aggressive. Aside from being cruel to animals, cockfighting is closely connected to other crimes including gambling and drug possession.

In Indiana, cockfighting, as well as the possession of birds for fighting, are level 6 felonies, each punishable by up to two and a half years in a state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. Earlier this year, President Obama signed the Farm Bill, making attending an animal fight a federal offense and imposing additional penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight.