Officers raid alleged cockfighting operation in Kent

Regional Animal Services of King County leads raid; takes away 92 roosters

One of the roosters removed from a Kent property by Regional Animal Services of King County during an investigation of the birds being raised and sold for cockfighting. COURTESY PHOTO, Regional Animal Services of King County

One of the roosters removed from a Kent property by Regional Animal Services of King County during an investigation of the birds being raised and sold for cockfighting. COURTESY PHOTO, Regional Animal Services of King County

Regional Animal Services of King County officers executed a search warrant last week on a Kent property and removed 92 chickens (most of them roosters) reportedly raised and trained for cockfighting, an illegal sport where people gamble on which bird will win.

Kent Police, city of Kent code enforcement officers and an agent from the Washington State Gambling Commission assisted in the May 6 morning raid of a home in the 28000 block of 149th Avenue Southeast, according to an email from Sgt. Tim Anderson with Regional Animal Services of King County.

“We do not suspect they were fighting at that location. At this time we believe they were being raised, trained and sold for fighting,” Anderson said. “We continue to investigate others who may have purchased roosters and are actively fighting birds.”

Residents had complained to city code enforcement about rooster noise and a large number of roosters on the residential property. A animal control officer on April 30 responded to the complaint and the property owner allowed the officer on the property to see the roosters.

“The officer recognized many of the roosters had been altered in a fashion consistent with roosters which would be fought,” Anderson said. “The officer also noted wounds on roosters and items on the property consistent with keeping and training roosters for fighting. The officer obtained a search warrant for the property.”

In addition to roosters, other items seized by officers during the search warrant execution were consistent with keeping, breeding and training roosters for fighting, Anderson said.

No arrests were made, Anderson said. He said the case is expected to be forwarded this week to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for a possible charge of animal fighting. Under state law (RCW 16.522.117) animal fighting is a class C felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional institution for five years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of $10,000, or both.

Information on cockfighting

Anderson shared details about cockfighting.

Cockfighting is a blood sport in which two roosters specifically bred for aggression are placed beak to beak in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. In organized cockfights, the roosters’ natural fighting instincts are exaggerated through breeding, feeding, training, steroids and vitamins. A bird may undergo several months of training before a fight. Just before a fight, the breeder cuts off the animal’s wattles — the combs below the beak — so that his opponent cannot tear them off.

Once in the ring, roosters often wear knives or artificial gaffs (long, dagger-like attachments) that are sharp enough to puncture a lung, pierce an eye or break bones in order to inflict maximum injury. Fights may be held in buildings, backyards or even basements and can last anywhere from seconds to many minutes. While the rules usually do not require one or both birds to die in order to declare a winner, death is often the outcome due to the severity of injuries.

Besides being cruel to animals, cockfighting is closely connected to other crimes such as gambling, drugs and acts of violence. Bets on the fights can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

“We receive several reports each year of cockfighting as well as dog fighting from throughout the county,” Anderson said. “We work closely with surrounding counties, cities, state and federal agencies on animal fighting cases. We have ongoing investigations and have assisted in serving search warrants in other counties where the participants reside or have ties throughout King County.”

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