Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Even in Utah, Cockfighting Fairly Widespread

Cockfighting seems fairly widespread

Animal cruelty: Recently raided event was well- organized; participants were from a wide area


By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune

Call it Cockfight Madness.
"This is conducted kind of like the NCAA tournament," said Pleasant Grove police Capt. Cody Cullimore. "There is bracketing and you fight until you can't go on."
There also were admission-paying spectators and wagering when police raided a cockfight in a barn in Lindon on Sunday morning.
Nineteen people were cited for animal cruelty, a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Police recovered 26 live roosters and five dead ones.
Police say similar fights have occurred recently in Utah. The spectators who were cited were from all over central Utah, Cullimore said, and many brought their own roosters.
"I'm sure this is something that goes on around here far more often than we know," Cullimore said. "It's just that it's in such a subculture that we don't hear about it."
The organizer appears to have been the son of the woman who was renting the property, Cullimore said. The son was in jail on an unrelated matter when the fight occurred. The mother was on the premises during the fight and appeared to have known what was happening, but was not cited, the captain said. It also appears some of the roosters belonged to the family, Cullimore said.
While the organizer and property owners were white, Cullimore said, most of the spectators were Latino. Cockfighting is legal and popular in Mexico and most other Latin American countries.
Inside the barn was an arena with an area of about 10 square feet, police said. It had wooden plank walls, a sawdust floor and a mesh wire ceiling. Spectators bet on the fights.
The competing roosters wore metal spurs - sharp, curved knife blades the animals use to hack each other.
An informant saw people entering the barn with animal crates and called police, Cullimore said. About 11:55 a.m., two police officers arrived and people began fleeing. The officers called for assistance and managed to corner some suspects in the barn.
There also were three or four children between 8 and 10 watching the fights from the barn rafters, Cullimore said.
The roosters were being held at the North Utah County Animal Shelter. Cullimore said the shelter will have to destroy any roosters that aren't claimed by the owners.

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