February 17, 2017

BREAKING: ASPCA Assists with Removal of Nearly 100 Birds in Cockfighting Raid

ASPCA volunteer holding a rooster

At the request of the Indiana Gaming Commission, the ASPCA is on the ground in Medaryville, Indiana, assisting with the removal of nearly 100 birds from a property associated with cockfighting in Pulaski County. We are also assisting local authorities with evidence collection and medical assessment of the birds, as well as transporting the birds to a temporary shelter. The shelter has been established by Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control in Fort Wayne, Indiana—approximately 97 miles east of Medaryville.

Upon arrival at the property on Thursday, investigators discovered roosters living in makeshift wire cages, many without access to proper food or water. Deceased bird were also discovered on the property, as well as cockfighting paraphernalia, including gaffs—long, dagger-like attachments used to maximize injury during fights—and supplements to enhance their performance.  

“This investigation illustrates the prevalence and brutality of cockfighting in America,” said Kathryn Destreza, Investigations Director for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The ASPCA has increased efforts to tackle organized animal fighting, and encourages the public to alert authorities when they suspect animal fighting activities in their communities. We commend the Indiana Gaming Commission for their commitment and dedication in tackling this barbaric form of animal cruelty and holding the abusers accountable.”

During cockfights, birds commonly suffer from injuries including punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes. These injuries are often the result of knives and artificial gaffs that are attached to the birds to severely increase injury. Often, steroids or other drugs are administered to the birds to make them more aggressive as well.

“Taking action to stop animal fighting and the illegal gambling associated with it are top priorities of the Indiana Gaming Commission,” said Rob Townsend, Superintendent of Law Enforcement for the Indiana Gaming Commission. “The IGC appreciates the expertise and professionalism ASPCA provides, and values the relationship the agencies have developed by working together on these types of cases.  We also appreciate tips from the public that lead to busts like this and encourage anyone who has information about animal abuse to let us know.”  

In Indiana, conducting a cockfight, as well as the possession of birds for fighting, are Class I felonies, each punishable by up to three years and six months in a state prison, as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. Being a spectator at a cockfight, though, only carries misdemeanor penalties.

Please consider making a donation to the ASPCA today to help us continue to protect these and other victims of animal cruelty nationwide.