CREATED Dec. 6, 2013
OASIS - The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has lead suspects on an illegal cockfighting operation it busted on Thursday afternoon.
Deputies from the Thermal Station responded to an animal cruelty call at the 76600 block of Harrison Street near Avenue 76. With help from the Riverside County Animal Control, deputies found 134 roosters bred for fighting on the sandy lot.
"There was instruments used in cockfighting operations such as gaffs or knives that attach to the birds and they fight to their deaths essentially," said John Welsh, Senior Public Information Specialist with animal control.
He added that a trophy was found on-site that's believed to be connected with the illegal operation. Animal control euthanized all birds at the location.
"These birds were raised to be fighting birds, and they're worth a lot of money in illegal operation, so therefore, we have to euthanize the birds. Otherside, they just fall into the wrong hands," said Welsh.
Residents in the area said that illegal cockfighting operations are not a secret in the neighborhood, but people don't like talking about the subject in public.
"There's a lot of cockfighting rings around here, but everyone is quiet about it," said a resident, who wished to remain anonymous out of concern for his safety.
Welsh confirms that there have been several busts in the past few years throughout the county.
"Every two to three months four months we have a big one, but it hasn't been as regular lately so perhaps folks have gotten the message that we're going to come after you. We are going to seek prosecution and animal cruelty," said Welsh.
The sheriff's department hasn't made any arrests in the case but is actively investigating the case. The owner of the illegal operation could face thousands of dollars in fines and could be charged with felony animal cruelty.
The anonymous resident said it's a risky business that he doesn't want any part in it.
"People fight over something that isn't worth it when there are so many other jobs out there they could do," said the resident.