Deputies checking reports of gunshots discovered 131 live fighting roosters and 15 dead ones at an apparent cockfighting arena at a house north of Lake Elsinore, a sheriff’s department spokesman said today.
Deputies arrived at a home in the 23500 block of Cowie Avenue at 11:11 a.m. Sunday and spotted apparent spectators fleeing the arena by jumping over a backyard fence, said sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Chaffin.
When deputies went to talk to the property owner, they saw him trying to hide several dead roosters in a trash can, Chaffin said. The property included a wooden structure that resembled a fighting ring for cockfights.
“Numerous other items were located at the scene indicating Salazar was allowing and performing illegal cockfighting activities on the property,” Chaffin said.
Jesus Salazar, 53, was arrested and booked into the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley for suspicion of animal cruelty, illegal cockfighting and possession of cockfighting instruments. He was released today after posting $5,000 bail, jail records showed.
Five Riverside County Animal Services officers humanely euthanized the 131 birds, said John Welsh, a spokesman for the department. Fighting cocks are bred for their aggressiveness and are unsuitable for pets or food.
There were 15 dead roosters at the site when the officers arrived, according to Animal Services Lt. Chris Mayer. Some of the live birds had already suffered injuries consistent with illegal cockfights, he said.
Animal control officers also collected illegal gaffs, which are small knives attached to the birds’ legs before fights, according to Welch.