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Frequently Asked Questions: Cockfighting

Is Cockfighting Illegal?
Yes, cockfighting is now illegal in all 50 states, and a felony in most states.  It is also a felony to transport animals and cockfighting implements across state lines for an animal fighting venture.


How Does Cockfighting Affect People?

Cockfighting is not only a barbaric form of animal cruelty but a threat to community safety.  Participants often carry illegal drugs and firearms and engage in illegal gambling.  Young children are frequently present at fights, exposed at an impressionable age to an environment of violence and callousness toward animals.


What Happens in a Cockfight?

Cockfighters breed roosters for maximum aggression and then pit them against each other in fights to the death.  The birds fight with razor-sharp knives or gaffs resembling curved ice picks strapped to their legs.  These weapons cause painful injuries such as punctured lungs, gouged-out eyes, and broken limbs.  Even the ‘winners” often die.  Trash bins overflowing with dead and dying animals are a common sight at cockfights.


Does Cockfighting Occur in My Community?

Cockfights take place in all parts of the country.  Organizers keep the locations of fights secret, but ordinary community members can easily spot signs that cockfighting is occurring on property, such as:

  • A large number of roosters held in one location, tethered to a crude shelter (often a simple A-frame wooden structure) or confined in pens
  • Roosters who have had their combs, wattles, and natural spurs cut off
  • The sound of roosters crowing, coupled with large congregations of people in remote barns, orchards or fields.
  • In city areas where backyards are hidden from view


Don’t Roosters Naturally Fight?

In natural settings, roosters do fight over food, territory, and mates, but only to establish dominance within a group and usually without seriously hurting each other.  This natural behavior doesn’t involve the extreme cruelty that occurs in staged cockfights.  For example, fighting birds are often given steroids or other drugs to enhance their unnaturally bred aggression.  They’re also force to fight until a winner is declared – usually when one bird dies.


Can Cockfighting Spread Disease?

Cockfighters bring hundreds of roosters to one location for scheduled fights.  The congregation of so many birds in a small area creates an ideal environment for diseases such as avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease.  The surviving roosters can spread these diseases when they’re brought home after fights.


Where Can I Find More Information about Cockfighting?

Click here
 to view a short film on cockfighting that our office produced with the help of The Humane Society of the United States.


What Can You Do?

  • If you see any suspicious activity related to animal abuse of cockfighting, report it to the local law enforcement.
  • If you witness a cockfight in progress, call the police immediately.
  • If you suspect cockfighting in your neighborhood, call the Humane Society of the United States tip line at 1-877-TIP-HSUS 1-877-847-4787. HSUS will pay YOU up to $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of a cock fighter
  • Callers wishing to remain anonymous may also call: WE – TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463). WE-TIP will up to $1,000 Reward.
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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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