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378 roosters seized in meth bust await fate

Officials suspect birds may have been used for illegal cockfighting


While stories of dogs seized from “puppy mills” often have happy endings with many willing adopters stepping up to give the pups a home, the story is not the same for several hundred roosters currently awaiting their fate in rural Washington County.

Nearly 400 roosters found in October on property in the 21400 block of Southwest Farmington Road during a law enforcement search of the site are currently “seized in place,” according to Washington County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Freeman.

That month, state and federal law enforcement officials arrested 30 people in five counties in Oregon and Southwest Washington in connection with a year-long investigation of an alleged methamphetamine ring. The birds were found on the Farmington Road property.

Cockfighting is illegal in America. In cockfighting — a centuries-old form of entertainment — two or more roosters are placed in a ring to fight, usually resulting in the death of one or more birds. Roosters that participate in cockfights nearly all become severely injured.

Often, when roosters are seized after being used for cockfighting, they are killed because they are thought to be too aggressive to adopt out again.

Oregon law states that a “fighting bird is a public nuisance,” so once birds are forfeited “the court shall order that the bird be destroyed or be otherwise disposed of.”

“This rule in Oregon exists because of the shortage of placement options and the high cost to local law enforcement in caring for fighting birds, especially in large seizure cases like the 400-bird case pending in Washington County,” said Scott Heiser, attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Local law enforcement officials continue to investigate their suspicion that the roosters were used for illegal cockfighting, Freeman said, so the birds remain where they were found.

The Oregon Humane Society is monitoring the care of the birds and assisting with the investigation, he added.

If Freeman makes official charges against one or more individuals arrested in the October bust, the birds will be forfeited and turned over to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

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