Boston Globe Reports Huge Cockfighting Raid in Massachusetts

Lane Turner/Globe Staff Cockfighting Raid Birds
Massachusetts was the first state in America to ban cockfighting, in 1836, and staging such a contest is a felony, carrying a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to five years in jail.

The seizure is believed to be the largest cockfighting bust in Massachusetts history

“Some people like to set animals against each other in staged animal fights. . . . It’s a horrible activity from every standpoint.” – Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns quoted in The Boston Globe, May 30, 2018.

As reported by The Boston Globe May 29 & 30, 2018, nearly 400 birds including roosters, hens, and chicks were found in an illegal Northampton, MA cockfighting pit on May 24th. They were seized by police and taken to the Massachusetts SPCA (MSPCA)-Nevins Farm where an undisclosed number of the roosters were euthanized. Others await adoption if good homes and sanctuaries are willing and able to take them in with an understanding of how traumatized the roosters are as a result of being “trained” to fight. “Training” involves drugs, physical abuse and isolation of the birds to get them to replicate their owners’ violence and desire “to be identified with a rooster who wins fights,” as UPC President Karen Davis told The Globe in a phone interview.

Once they are removed from the cockfighting environment, many and perhaps even most “cockfighting” roosters can be rehabilitated to live normally with hens and human caregivers.

United Poultry Concerns is helping the MSPCA locate sanctuaries, and has volunteered to adopt two roosters from the raid. While most of the hens have been placed, finding good homes for roosters, regardless of where they come from, is hard. Even when a home is available, many people are afraid to adopt roosters from a cockfighting raid, believing they are incorrigibly dangerous. Screening potential adopters is also an issue, since some people could pretend they wanted one or more roosters as pets when in fact they want them for cockfighting or slaughter.

Although outlawed throughout the U.S., cockfighting continues underground, involving around 40,000 participants similar to dog fighting activities, according to the Justice Department.