A Kensington man is facing 14 felony counts of animal fighting in an alleged case of cockfighting after more than two dozen birds were found at his home, officials said.
Juan Reyes is also charged with six misdemeanor counts of possession of animal fighting paraphernalia, according to the Pennsylvania SPCA. The charges were held over for trial at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
The case was uncovered when PSPCA officers were in Reyes’ neighborhood investigating an unrelated case and spotted birds dressed for fighting inside his yard, along with evidence that there were additional birds inside the property.
On March 1, the PSPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Officers executed a search warrant at his residence on North Lee Street, where they found 36 birds — including fighting roosters and hens — and fighting paraphernalia.
All of the birds were seized and taken to the PSPCA’s Erie Avenue headquarters, where they were evaluated. The hens and juvenile roosters who were able to be rehabilitated were sent to rescues.
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Previously, paraphernalia could only be used as supporting evidence in an animal fighting case, but now merely possessing these items is considered a crime, according to the PSPCA. The charges against Reyes “marks the first time the PSPCA has utilized the new paraphernalia bill passed in July of 2015, which makes it illegal to possess any device, implement, object or drug used or intended to be used for animal fighting, training animals to fight or the furtherance of those illegal activities.”
“The Pennsylvania SPCA is the only animal welfare organization in the region equipped to handle large, complex cases of animal fighting like this,” said Jerry Buckley, CEO of the PSPCA. “Animal fighting is a brutal crime, and we hope through the prosecution of cases like this, we can deter future offenders from participating. We are grateful for the new paraphernalia legislation, which is important in identifying those who are performing acts of animal cruelty, or intend to. We look forward to adjudicating this case and getting justice for all the animals involved.”
Anyone with information about this case, or other cases involving animal cruelty, can anonymously call the PSPCA’s Cruelty Hotline at 866- 601-SPCA.