On September 13, 2011 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a county ordinance aimed at deterring cockfighting and ensuring that chickens are kept in humane conditions by their owners.
- The ordinance requires roosters to be untethered and kept in humane conditions, with enough room to fully spread their wings. Enclosures must also be kept at least 50 feet from homes.
- The limits, based on lot sizes, are set to take effect Jan. 1, to give people time to comply with the ordinance.
- Properties of less than a half-acre will be limited to one rooster.
- Up to four roosters will be allowed on lots of at least an acre, six on five acres, and as many as 20 roosters on properties larger than five acres.
- The new rules will not apply to commercial poultry operations, approved 4-H Clubs or Future Farmers of America projects, schools, animal shelters or animal welfare organizations which employ humane officers.
- Under state law it is a misdemeanor to keep, possess or train any bird with the intent of using it for fighting. Several counties have passed similar laws in an effort to stop cockfighting.
- "Cockfighting, like dog fighting, are criminal activities and, unfortunately, California does not punish them sufficiently," Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said.
- Since 2000, Department of Animal Services investigations have resulted in more than 100 arrests, confiscation of cockfighting paraphernalia, such as spurs or gaffs, and the euthanasia of thousands of fighting birds, according to county data. Each year, the department's officers conduct thousands of investigations, ranging from minor violations to felony animal cruelty cases.
United Poultry Concerns Correspondent Ronnie Steinau worked diligently in cooperation with the San Diego County Department of Animal Services and others to propel the ordinance to limit the number of roosters that may be kept by San Diego County residents. Her initiative to oversee and direct local grassroots groups to secure public support for the ordinance paid off.
Ronnie’s letter to the editor was published in the San Diego County Tribune and the North County Times:
COCKFIGHTING: A CONCERN TO CROW ABOUT
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors should vote 5-0 in favor of the proposed rooster ordinance. Limiting roosters on a premises to deter cockfighting protects public health, safety and welfare.
Cockfighting involves using illegal drugs to induce abnormal aggression in roosters. Invariably it involves drug trafficking, illegal gambling, violence, and contributes to the delinquency of minors.
Tethered roosters suffer from abnormal stress and increased susceptibility to diseases. Avian influenza and Salmonella affect bird health, human health, and may impact the food supply. The birds crow incessantly, causing disturbing noise levels.
Responsible people who have chickens as pets maintain a flock balance of several hens and one or two roosters. People engaging in cockfighting and game fowl breeding typically keep large numbers of roosters, breeding hens and chicks in unsanitary, crowded, inhumane conditions. Dying and dead roosters are discarded, creating a filthy environment.
Because cockfighting in California is merely a misdemeanor and not a felony, outsiders flock to our communities to stage these illegal activities. Is our county becoming a mecca for cockfighting? On the grounds of human, animal, community, and environmental welfare, the Board of Supervisors should, without hesitation, pass the ordinance.
– Ronnie Steinau