End Cockfighting Press Release

Arrest of Alleged Monterey County Cockfighters an Important Step in Rooting Out Trafficking of Fighting Birds

Monterey County has a history of rampant illegal cockfighting

Monterey, Calif. — Animal Wellness Action reacted to news of Monterey County Sheriff’s deputies discovering what appears to be a large scale breeding facility of 350 birds for cockfighting. A Salinas man is facing charges for cockfighting.

“Monterey County has had a history of rampant illegal cockfighting, and that’s precisely why this interdiction by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is so important,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action“Cockfighting is a crime of animal cruelty tied to narcotics trafficking and human violence, and trafficking of fighting animals is interwoven with spread of deadly avian diseases and it should be a county priority to stamp it out.”

The discovery of 350 birds came from a tip of cockfighting followed by deputies serving a search warrant on the 600 block of San Juan Grade Road north of Salinas. Officials found evidence of breeding and training roosters for illegal staged fighting.

California banned cockfighting in 1905, but it’s persisted as the state’s most widespread form of illegal animal cruelty. There are fights throughout California, but there is also a disturbingly widespread cockfighting breeding industry, where cockfighters maintain roosters on tethers or in cages and “farm” the birds for cockfights in the state or for transport to other states, territories, and nations. A 2019 report from Monterey County Civil Grand Jury determined there were as many as 1,000 backyard cockfighting operations alone in Monterey County. 

The county is one of 20 in the state with restrictions on maintaining large numbers of roosters.  Two months ago, Santa Barbara County added its roster of California jurisdictions with this kind of local anti-cockfighting ordinance.

The Fight Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Animal Trafficking (FIGHT) Act is a federal bill with bipartisan support that will give law enforcement better enforcement tools and stronger laws. The FIGHT Act delivers them, by banning on-line gambling on dogfights and cockfights; prohibiting shipping adult fighting roosters through the U.S. mail, strengthening forfeiture authority for fighting pits and properties used to conduct these cruel activities; and allowing private rights of action against dogfighters and cockfighters in the absences of federal law enforcement.

The Fight Act has 500 endorsers, including The American Gaming Association, the National District Attorneys Association, Small and Rural Law Enforcement Executive Association, United Egg Producers, state poultry associations (e.g., Indiana and Ohio), and state sheriffs’ associations (e.g., Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania).

Animal Wellness Action encourages all federal lawmakers in California to cosponsor the FIGHT Act.  The roster of California lawmakers who are cosponsors can be found here.

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter