Authorities seize 126 roosters amid cockfighting investigation in Coatesville

COATESVILLE, Ind.-- More than 100 birds were removed from a Hendricks County property in connection with a cockfighting investigation.

The Indiana Gaming Commission said it received an anonymous tip about a cockfighting operation. Wednesday morning, it carried out a search warrant where the commission said it found 126 birds, mostly roosters, and fighting paraphernalia.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is assisting the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) and local authorities in collecting evidence as well as providing care and transportation for the birds.

The ASPCA said when investigators arrived at the property they found roosters with physical alterations commonly found in fighting birds. These alterations include the removal of their combs and wattles.

A homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, denied the allegations and said they are not fighting birds.

"Not everybody who raises pit bulls fights pit bulls, not everybody who raises American game fowl, which is perfectly legal, fights chickens," the homeowner said.

The homeowner said they have shown chickens for decades as a hobby.

"To show chickens you need to dub their cone, you need to shorten their spurs and you need to cut some of the tail feathers for show," they said.

They also said they did not have fighting paraphernalia at the property.

"It's just a travesty of justice when they could have been finding cockfighters or meth labs," they said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the investigation.

The ASPCA says it has assisted in three separate cockfighting investigations this year.

“Indiana citizens continue to take a stand against animal fighting by reporting suspected activity to us,” said Superintendent Rob Townsend of the Indiana Gaming Commission. “This investigation began with an anonymous tip, and we are pleased that we have been able to work with the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office and the ASPCA to shut down this operation.”

Officials say birds commonly suffer from injuries like punctured lungs and broken bones when forced to fight. The injuries are often from knives or long, dagger-like attachments fastened to the birds.

“The ASPCA is committed to stamping out this barbaric blood sport where birds are forced to fight while their owners profit from their torture,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The ASPCA is proud to lend its resources and expertise to the Indiana Gaming Commission to bring this cruel form of organized animal fighting to an end.”

Conducting a cockfight and possessing birds for fighting are level 6 felonies. The charges carry a sentence of six months to three years in prison. A maximum fine of $10,000 can also be imposed.