30 October 2019

Illegal Rooster Operation in Melrose, New Mexico

Aerial photo of illegal rooster operation

By Karen Davis, PhD, President

On August 20, 2019, United Poultry Concerns received an email from a man in eastern New Mexico in a small town close to the Texas State line. He wrote: “I am looking for some ways to stop the torture of the roosters two doors down from me. Local law enforcement has written us off as just ‘griping neighbors.’” Two hundred or more roosters are tethered in barrels in “the nasty Cockfighter way, unprotected from predators and often go for a day or two without feed or water.”

The roosters crow constantly day and night because “their basic needs to live are not being met. Living tied up like that should be against the law,” he wrote.

Chickens are “animals” under New Mexico’s anti-cruelty law. The first two convictions are misdemeanors and the third is a 4th degree felony. Illegal cruelty to animals “occurs when a person negligently mistreats, injures, or kills without lawful justification or torments an animal or abandons or fails to provide sustenance to an animal under that person’s custody or control.”

The neighbor said Curry County NM Sheriff, Wesley Waller, refused to do a welfare check, even though he knows the people running the operation, Paul and Suzanne Payne, “are raising these bird for fighting.”

On August 23rd, I sent a letter to Sheriff Waller, who wrote back Sept. 17th after I sent him a reminder. Here is our exchange:

UPC Correspondence with Curry County Sheriff in NM Re: Roosters

In September, following the announcement by SHARK of their new Crush Cockfighting Campaign, I contacted Steve Hindi who, with his crew, videotaped the property from their plane in October. He wrote, as you can see in the video:

Each barrel houses a “fighting” rooster. They are individually chained to their barrels to keep them from fighting until such times as they can be outfitted with blades and fought while pitiless criminals are able to bet on them as they helplessly slice each other to death.

What is even more concerning is that the land owner is apparently going to expand on the available fenced property, and one has to wonder if adjacent properties might also become involved.

Watch the Video

This investigation has just begun. We will keep you updated, including who to write to once we learn more about the jurisdiction in this matter. In his brief reply to my letter, Sheriff Waller said the property is “situated within the incorporated area of the Village of Melrose, and would be subject to the Village ordinances.”
Karen Davis, UPC

For more on cockfighting:

UPC's Cockfighting page