The New York attorney general's office announced Wednesday that nine of the 70 people arrested in a giant cockfighting bust in New York have plead guilty. Among the nine men caught in a sting called "Operation Angry Birds," two farmers plead guilty and received felony convictions. They will never be allowed to own animals again, under a law that prohibits animal fighting. Seven other men charged with felonies took guilty pleas in April.
"Cockfighting is a cruel, abusive and barbaric practice. It tortures animals, endangers the health and safety of our communities and is known to facilitate other crimes," Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general, said in a statement. "My office, along with our partners in law enforcement and animal welfare, are committed to ending this vicious blood sport in New York."
"Operation Angry Birds" involved three New York counties, a massive bust at a cockfighting event in Queens and an apprehension in Florida. Sadly, it also involved huge numbers of birds. After a police raid on a farm in Plattekill, N.Y., the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescued nearly 4,000 birds and then moved the birds to a temporary shelter in upstate New York. From the attorney general's office:
The farm had operated under the guise of a live poultry farm and its owners hid thousands of makeshift cages within the center of the property to avoid detection by neighbors and law enforcement. Significantly, well over half of all the chickens seized were roosters, a statistic which is completely inconsistent with the operation of a legal poultry farm. Roosters and chickens were found to be boarded in deplorable conditions.
Cockfighting is outlawed in each of the 50 states. On their own, roosters are territorial but rarely cause each other harm. But, as the ASPCA notes, cockfighters arm roosters with knives and blades, and fatal injuries are not uncommon.
Luckily, thanks to waning interest in blood sports coupled with increased police pressure, cockfighting seems to be a dying sport.