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By LARRY PYNN
SURREY, B.C. - When two roosters duke it out in a cockfight, one may die. But under federal legislation, when authorities bust a cockfighting ring, all the birds die.
That injustice brought the SPCA's Eileen Drever to tears Friday as she provided details into a raid Wednesday and Thursday on what authorities have called Canada's largest cockfighting ring.
"Our staff work for this wonderful organization because they love animals," said Drever, an animal protection officer. "Because of the legislation, we had no choice but to destroy the birds.
SPCA officials armed with a provincial court order killed nearly 1,300 roosters after raiding three sites over 24 hours in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, B.C. The busts followed an RCMP illegal gambling investigation.
Some of the cocks had missing eyes and legs as well as slash marks and puncture wounds on their bodies,
Drever said, noting: "if we didn't destroy these birds, they would have died a horrible death."
Because officials found cockpits on two of the sites, the Criminal Code required the SPCA to destroy the birds, said Marcie Moriarty, the general manager of cruelty investigations for the animal welfare organization.
The investigators did not find a cockpit on the third site, so about 50 roosters were left at the property, despite the discovery of cockfighting paraphernalia on the site.
The RCMP plans to seek charges against up to 30 people for unlawful fighting of birds and unlawful keeping of a cockpit. The maximum punishment available under the criminal code for those offences is six months in jail, a $2,000 fine and a two-year ban on keeping animals.
"It's ridiculous, an absolute slap on the wrist," said Moriatry.
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