From Animal Place
It is important to note that gamefowl are not naturally inclined to kill each other. In a normal flock, multiple roosters do coexist together. Fights happen, but more often than not, these are short-lived scuffles. Cockfighters socially isolate roosters, often tethering them so they cannot express natural behaviors or explore their surroundings. As with dogs, tethering and social isolation leads to frustration and boredom in chickens.
This past weekend, Animal Place's Rescue Ranch welcomed four roosters saved during a cockfighting raid in Yolo County, Calif. And it is only because of our Rescue Ranch program that when the Yolo County SPCA reached out for assistance we could offer help. With more than a dozen roosters at our permanent sanctuary and limited staff time to safely integrate fighting roosters into barns, it is not feasible for Animal Place to permanently take in roosters saved from these raids.
A few months ago, Yolo County law enforcement raided a cockfight in progress. Eleven people were arrested and, despite clear evidence that they were spectators at the bloodsport, none have been charged. It is a sad reality that cockfighting is not treated the same as dogfighting or other acts of cruelty. Around 80 roosters were confiscated. Under normal circumstances, once custody is granted to shelters, these birds are often euthanized. They are not put up for adoption, despite the fact that groups like VINE Sanctuary have been integrating former fighting roosters into their flocks of chickens for years.
It is important to note that gamefowl are not naturally inclined to kill each other. In a normal flock, multiple roosters do coexist together. Fights happen, but more often than not, these are short-lived scuffles. Cockfighters socially isolate roosters, often tethering them so they cannot express natural behaviors or explore their surroundings. As with dogs, tethering and social isolation leads to frustration and boredom in chickens. Their spurs, large nails used during normal rooster fights, are cut off and cockfighters attach sharp knives to maximize damage during forced fighting. Prior to the bloodsport, roosters may be injected with drugs like methamphetamine. And when the roosters are faced with each other, it is in a pit where they cannot escape. The roosters fight because they are petrified, high on drugs, undersocialized, and forced in a pit.
Are these birds adoptable? Yes! We have placed birds from cockfighting raids in the past. Some can be housed with other roosters, but will need experienced chicken handlers to integrate in multi-rooster homes. Remember, they have to unlearn the cruel lessons taught by humans. But with patience and following the practices of sanctuaries with ample experience, it can be done. These roosters will do well as single roosters with hens. They have already shown a strong desire to be around hens - the moment they saw the hens saved from an egg farm, they started to search for food to offer them!
We want to thank Angela Kinn of the Yolo County SPCA for contacting us. She spoke up for these roosters. She evaluated every single one for signs of human aggression and selected 10 of the tamest roosters. In an ideal world, ALL 80 roosters would be free from human control, living feral and free. That is not the world we live in now, though. The surviving roosters will become ambassadors for all roosters and hens exploited for the cruel bloodsport of cockfighting. More importantly, they will live out their lives and be treated as unique individuals. We will be able to take in more of the ten once these four roosters are placed. They will go through a standard health quarantine and be dewormed and deloused prior to placement. They would love to go home with some of the 750 hens saved from a battery cage egg farm! If you are interested in adopting, fill out our form!
What's the personality of the roosters? They vary! All 80 of the roosters confiscated had varying degrees of fear towards humans. Some expressed that fear with aggression towards people. These roosters would do well in a more free-range setting, but unfortunately most of our adopters prefer roosters who can coexist with people safely. So the roosters who have been selected have softer temperaments. They are not flighty and are used to being around people. The four we initially took in are incredibly sweet birds. One kept trying to show staff where food was and acted miffed that the humans weren't following his instructions! One made the sweet, gentle callings roosters make to calm hens.
Can't adopt? You can still help! Transition to a vegan lifestyle - it's the easiest way to be compassionate to the most number of nonhumans! You can start by signing up for our weekly recipe list - Sanctuary Sweets. If you hear of roosters being confiscated from fight-busts, contact the shelter responsible and ask that they work with sanctuaries like ours to evaluate and rehome some of the roosters. The excuse "we can't verify where they go" is not good enough. These roosters are living, sentient beings. They are not ferocious beasts but frightened chickens! Contact the district attorney responsible for charging fighters with animal cruelty and ask that current laws be enforced and cruelty to roosters be taken seriously. There was once a time when dogs confiscated from fight busts were summarily killed without concern for individual temperament. Times have changed for these dogs and we'd like to see times change for these roosters too. Be a part of that change.