About Cockfighting

Supervising Animal Control Officer Ruben Hernandez holds a cockfighting trophy confiscated during a bust.What is cock fighting? 

A cockfight is an organized fight between two roosters held in a ring called a cock pit. These birds called gamecocks are bred and conditioned for increased strength and stamina. Many of these birds have been pumped full of steroids and other drugs to increase their metabolism, which makes them stronger and harder to kill.

A cock fight generally lasts a from a few minutes to about a half hour. Although not all fights result in the death of the bird, resulting major trauma is quite common; this may later result in death. Wages are often placed on the birds during these matches.

Isn't cockfighting illegal?

Neighboring states have made cockfighting activities a felony, so many of these operations have moved to California, where it is only a misdemeanor. Cockfighting operations have been broken up in virtually every county in California.

Reporting cockfighting

There are several major issues associated with illegal cockfighting events, including property destruction, gambling, drug dealing and animal cruelty, among others. It is important to report cockfighting activities so County officials can investigate these cases. If you see or encounter instances of animal abuse, report it to 311 Connect or if calling outside of unincorporated Sacramento County Areas, dial, 916-875-4311. 

Illegal Activities associated with cockfighting rings

Successfully prosecuting these illegal events generally involves many County agencies including Animal Care, Code Enforcement, the Sherriff's Office and the District Attorney and even Child Protective Services. Crimes associated with these events include, but are not limited to:

  • Gambling: Some operations uncovered by law enforcement have found upwards of $100,000 on the premises
  • Illegal parking and other code issues
  • Intimidation of those living nearby
  • Public drunkenness
  • Drug dealing
  • Gang activity
  • Child endangerment
  • Property destruction and crowing birds
  • Assault and in some cases, these events have been linked with the murders of participants and spectators

Examples of knives that are attached to the legs of gamecocks before a fight.Cruelty to animals

While roosters are naturally territorial animals, these birds are especially aggressive. Almost all roosters seized from cock fighting operations have to be put down because they can't be around other roosters or birds without attacking them.

Cock fighting considered a "blood sport", defined as when two animals fight each other to the death. Other examples of blood sports are dog fighting and bull fighting. In some types of cockfighting, the animals use the natural bony spurs on their legs to inflict damage. In other fights, miniature knives and "gaffs" are attached to the legs of the animals in place of their spur so they may slash at each other. These knives range in size from a half inch to three inches long, and these types of fights almost always result in fatalities.

While cockfighting is still practiced openly in countries around the world, in the United States, our citizens have spoken overwhelmingly against these and other "blood sports". This ordinance complements the current moral, legal and ethical animal cruelty rules and laws we have in this country, and cock fighting is now banned in all 50 states as of last year.

Spread of Disease

Many of these roosters are moved from location to location to avoid detection and for fights and this movement of birds can spread diseases such as Avian Flu, which can jump to humans. Around the world, there have been many reports of people getting sick from avian diseases due to their exposure to cock fighting activities.

Unvaccinated roosters have also been responsible for the spread of Exotic Newcastle disease, which is highly contagious and deadly to birds. During the last few years, hundreds of thousands of birds have been put down due to this disease.