CLEVELAND – It’s housed hundreds of abused and missing pets, but now the Cleveland City Kennel is adding birds to the list.
On Saturday, Cleveland police busted one of the largest cockfighting rings it’s seen, said chief animal control officer John Baird. Officers removed 49 roosters, 3 dead roosters, a cockatoo and a parrot from a home on West 30th Street in Ohio City.
“The ones that were dead were probably already involved in a fight,” Baird said. “There were eight more that already had the talons attacked to their legs, probably being prepared to fight, but the animals looked to be healthy and fine.”
Eight of the roosters had to be euthanized, but Baird is not sure of the fate of the remainder of the animals.
His staff will have to determine the mental health of the birds. Baird said the nature of animal-fighting rings can make animals aggressive and unfit for certain places, like a farm, where they may be released.
“It’s so uncommon that we’re not sure what’s going to happen next, “Baird said. “We’re going to find out if the animals will be euthanized or be returned. We doubt if they’re going to be returned to their owners, but we’re going to find out from a prosecutor or the investigator in this case on what we need to do with these animals.”
The homeowner was arrested for felony cruelty to animals and gambling charges. According to police, about 40 other men were also on site. They have not been charged in the case.
Cockfighting is illegal in the United States, and it is a punishable felony in 40 of them.
Karen Minton, the Ohio State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, said Ohio’s animal cruelty laws are a failure.
“Ohio is the only state in the Great Lakes region lacking felony penalties for cockfighting,” she said. “Until the General Assembly brings our laws in line with those of our neighbors, we will continue to be a hotspot for this cruel activity. The Humane Society of the United States applauds law enforcement for its quick response during this raid, and we urge lawmakers to provide prosecutors with the tools they need to hold those involved in this gruesome form of animal cruelty accountable.”