Nearly 400 roosters that were involved in a Northampton cockfighting ring were rescued by the Massachsuetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, marking the largest bust in the animal non-profit’s history, the organization said.
While the birds are housed at MSCPA-Nevins Farm, the facility has had to close to the public. The birds arrived to the farm at the end of last week after Northampton police secured a warrant to raid the buildings at the Ravenwold Greenhouses, a garden center located at 1095 Florence Road.
Unfortunately, most of these roosters will need to be euthanized, the MSPCA announced, as the organization cannot place them into any new homes because they would kill or attack other birds or animals nearby.
The majority of the birds rescued, except for about 100 hens, were purposefully bred for cockfighting, according to the MSPCA. Those hens will be placed in sancuries or responsible homes, the organization said, once their medical and behavioral checks are completed. The MSPCA will also try to raise the 45 rooster chicks it rescued so that, though they were bred for fighting, they may be adoptable in the future.
Cockfighting: “A cruel blood sport”
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, but still persists underground, as in this instance. Massachusetts was the first state to ban cockfighting back in 1836; New Mexico was the last to ban the practice in 2007.
“These birds are aggressive and must be housed separately to keep them from attacking each other,” Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Nevins Farm, said in a statement. “Cockfighting is an extremely cruel blood sport and we condemn the callous disregard for life shown by those responsible for raising these birds to fight.”
Most of the birds, Keiley noted, would have been fitted with “sharp metal spurs designed to slash and kill their opponents” before entering the cockfighting ring.
“The kindest thing we can do for the vast majority of these birds is to humanely euthanize them,” Keiley added. “The roosters cannot be rehabilitated—all we can do now is spare them the brutal and bloody fate that awaits them in the ring.”
Keiley expects that Nevins Farm will re-open to the public at the end of the week. Adoptions for other barn animals have not been affected by the closing, he added. Northampton police are currently investigating the cockfighting incident.