Cockfighting crackdown: Police, Humane Society trying to get in front of animal abuse problem

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Police Department says it has busted three cockfighting rings in the past two months, but they are concerned that more are operating. Because they’re afraid this could be the beginning of a big animal abuse problem, they’re teaming up with the Arizona Humane Society to wrap their arms around it.

During a cockfight, two roosters fight to the death while spectators place bets.

“If our citizens could actually see what we see when we respond to these things, they would be assured we were in the 1800s and that this is no way this is 2013 with this type of thing going on,” said Phoenix Police Officer James Holmes.

In all these cases police, say several roosters were found cut up, bleeding, some dead and some barely alive. Razor-sharp knives called gaffs that are tied onto their feet do incredible damage.

“Cockfighting is legal in several countries, not in the United States, but it is legal certain areas of France, the Philippines, Mexico, India, so this is acceptable behavior to some cultures. In the United States, it is not legal,” Chris West of the Arizona Humane Society said.

While the abuse is horrible, adding to the problem is that many of these birds are brought into the country illegally and could carry diseases.

“We're now finding that birds can have corona viruses that can be transmitted to people, as well. That's something new coming out, but the state vet is usually going to test them for influenza is the big one,” AHS veterinarian Dr. Nancy Bradley said.

Phoenix police and Arizona Humane Society are trying to get in front of this problem, and they need your help to do it.  They ask that if you happen to see or hear of any cockfighting to call the police or even the AHS so they can squash the problem early.

Charges associated with cockfight range from misdemeanor animal abuse to felony gambling.