Cockfighting Bust Part 2: Back to the pit - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cockfighting Bust Part 2: Back to the pit

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - They're some of the most beautiful birds, but they're all set to be euthanized after Louisiana State Police busted an illegal cockfighting ring off Willow Springs Road in Sulphur.

"This is probably the biggest one for the state of Louisiana since the cockfighting law was passed," said Diana Morales with Calcasieu Animal Services.  

Calcasieu Animal Services and the U.S. Humane Society collected more than 600 birds on site at the Little Bayou Club. Most of the birds were found injured from wounds sustained in the pit, but they were the lucky ones because they survived the fight.

"The fights depending on the birds and how game they are, can last up to 20 to 30 minutes or longer. If the activity levels in the main pit falls because the animals become injured and weakened, they will pull them out of the main pit and put them in these side pits to allow the fights to continue until the death of at least one of the birds," said Melissa Forberg, Emergency Services worker with the U.S. Humane Society.  

With stadium seating and a concession stand, Forberg says this is one of the largest operations she's ever seen.  

But before the birds ever step into the ring, their handlers pay to store them in various trailers around the property and the so-called closets for rent.

"These rooms are a little bit more elaborate on this side. This is where they would actually set up the bird right here to attach knives onto their legs to give them any injections they were giving them before the fight goes on... That would be the holding area behind you," said Julia Breaux, state director for the U.S. Humane Society.  

Raised to fight, the birds are classified by weight class with small knives and blades attached to their legs. 

"And if they're not sharp enough, these are the grinders to sharpen the blades that folks can - if the blades aren't sharp, razor sharp, can pay a gentleman that would sharpen them to make sure the blades are as sharp as possible before the birds go into the pit," explained Forberg. 

Of the more than 250 people watching the fights on Saturday, 37 misdemeanor citations were issued, including two charges of illegal gambling or wagering at cockfights, 12 charges of cockfighting and 23 charges of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

"The animal cruelty is just incredible that people find sport in animals suffering and that children were involved, that children were brought here by their parents to witness this kind of things is very disturbing," said Breaux.  

During their raid we're told State Police confiscated the hard drive to a computer and more than $50,000 in cash. 

"I think spectators should also be fined or given misdemeanors, some kind of fines for the spectator as well, as the law definitely needs to be strengthened in the future."

Meaning the law battle over cockfighting could again go back to the state legislature. Meanwhile State Police say they're investigation is ongoing and say they expect to file felony charges against the owner and several other parties who helped organize the event.  

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