According to a Center for Disease Control study, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bite incidents in America each year. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization reports that, following dog bites, bites from snakes, cats, and monkeys are a significant concern worldwide.
Related reading: Celebrity Cujos and a history of dog bites in Hollywood
Similar animal-related injuries involving many other types of animals are not as widely reported. Case in point: roosters. Compared to their more docile female counterparts, roosters are much less friendly toward humans and can cause serious harm. And it is probably from long-brewing anger and resentment over being made to engage in a bloodsport called cockfighting.
Cockfighting involves throwing two roosters in a small ring to fight to the death. This activity, which is illegal all over the United States including in Washington State, is also known for its close links to organized crime and unsavory characters. Throughout history, humans have always had a taste for bloodsport, which explains why cockfighting, though illegal in most parts of the world, remains a popular form of entertainment.
If you’re thinking about getting into cockfighting, don’t. Here’s why:
Reason 1: It could be lethal
Cockfighting is illegal in many countries, but that doesn’t stop some people from organizing rooster fights. In India, there are animal cruelty laws that prohibit it. And for a very good reason: fighting roosters’ legs are fitted with a blade to enable them to deal deadly blows to their opponent. These blades are so lethal, they could not only seriously injure but also kill.
In one province in Southern India, a man was mortally wounded by his own rooster when it tried to escape from participating in a bloody battle with a fellow bird. The rooster got lucky and was spared its life. The organizers of the match weren’t as lucky and faced charges for hosting a cockfight, illegal betting, and manslaughter.
A similar case occurred in California. In January 2011, an armed rooster fatally stabbed an audience member in the leg at an illegal cockfighting match in Tulare County. It was unclear how the supposed “sharp force injury” caused the man’s death, but it may have been due to the delay in receiving medical assistance. The man’s family sued the owner of the premises for not implementing safety measures for the spectators at his illegally organized event.
Reason 2: It’s breathtakingly cruel
If you’re having a bad day, just think about what roosters used for cockfighting have to go through.
For starters, roosters for cockfighting get their wattles (the reddish flesh under chickens’ chin) and combs (the flesh on top of their head) cut off. Needless to say, this is done with little regard for the birds’ comfort and safety. This practice, however, is quite standard and completely acceptable where Emmanuel Garcia is from — the Philippines — one of the very few countries in the world where cockfighting is not only acceptable, but legal.
In 2020, Mr. Garcia was found in possession of more than 200 roosters and hens in his home in Virginia Beach. He was keeping them not because he was a friend of the fowls, but because he was grooming them to be shipped to the Philippines where they will be used for cockfighting. One could say he was afowl of the law.
The judge who presided over the case ordered Mr. Garcia to pay $6,200 in overtime costs to the city’s Animal Control office which handled the case. The judge also prohibited him from owning any agricultural animals in the future to the benefit of roosters wishing to keep their wattles and combs.
In a rather unfortunate twist, upon the seizure of Mr. Garcia’s birds, the roosters were euthanized because the officers deemed them too aggressive. The hens had a better fate and were adopted out.
In our Renton law offices, we’ve never handled a case regarding conflict about custody and ownership of birds — but we never say never. If you need an attorney-mediated session for your “pet custody” concerns in Washington State, call family law attorneys Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams.