A shooting in Dallas, Texas, ruffled more than just some feathers: When police arrived on the scene, they found more than 2,000 chickens. The incident occurred at what seems to be a massive cockfight and breeding operation, where investigators believe a dispute broke out between a customer and a rooster-seller after a recently purchased bird lost a fight. While executing a search warrant at the site, officials found more than 2,000 birds as well as cockfighting paraphernalia. The suspected shooter was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and the wounded man is reportedly in stable condition. No charges have yet been filed regarding the birds, and the investigation is ongoing.
What Happens During a Cockfight?
A cockfight takes place when two roosters fight, often to the death, for the entertainment of onlookers. Spectators bet on the outcome, and cockfighting rings are often linked to crimes like illegal gambling, prostitution, robbery, murder, and drug trafficking.
Roosters bred for cockfighting are hatched on “game” farms by breeders known as “cockers.” If a chick doesn’t seem violent enough, he’s killed, and most of the selected birds spend their lives tethered by the leg to a plastic barrel or small cage—their only shelter. Cockers then train the birds for strength and endurance by attaching weights to their legs and setting them loose for practice fights with each other.
The natural urge to retreat has been systemically bred out of “game fowl,” so birds used in the fighting ring are more likely to fight to the death. Many are routinely armed with blades and spikes attached to their feet in order to inflict more severe bodily harm on one another. The fight doesn’t end until one rooster is dead or nearly dead, and common injuries include punctured lungs, pierced eyes, and broken bones. The losing bird is often discarded into a barrel or trashcan near the fight pit, even if he’s still alive. The winning rooster’s wounds are typically crudely stitched up with no further treatment.
How to Help Roosters Used in Cockfights
Although cockfighting is illegal in all U.S. states and territories, this recent cockfighting bust in Dallas is far from an isolated incident. And cockfights are still legal in Cuba, most of Mexico, and much of the Caribbean. They only take place because they’re profitable for their organizers. The best way to help roosters forced to fight is never to attend a cockfight, and if you suspect illegal cockfighting is occurring, report it to the local authorities.