Amarillo, TX - Animal Management and Welfare has a full house and nineteen people face charges after a cockfighting ring bust.
For some people it's used as means of entertainment and gambling, but Amarillo police say cockfighting is far from a game for them.
Saturday night APD was called out here to a barn at 3610 Rio Grande on a report of cockfighting. When officers arrived, they found a wooden ring on the dirt floor with blood and numerous roosters in crates.
When people began to run, officers made contact.
"A lot of people ran, took off out in the neighborhood towards Grand street. The officers wound up contacting about 20 people in all approximately that they believe were involved or had seen or were a part of the event that was going on," says Sgt. Brent Barbee.
We were not allowed to get video of the birds, as they are considered evidence. Animal Management and Welfare tell us they seized 59 birds, and two had to be euthanized due to injuries.
"It's kind of just that time of year when we're starting to ramp up on them again," says Christy Fischer with Animal Management and Welfare. "And it's pretty...there's a trend across the nation when we tend to see them, so we're gearing up and we're preparing for it and we'll do whatever we need to do to protect the birds and work with Amarillo Police Department to make sure that the birds get the justice that they deserve."
Seventeen people were arrested on Class C Misdemeanor charges for being spectators, one was arrested for an additional charge of having a firearm and another for an additional charge of possession of cockfighting equipment.
"I know in some cultures it's kind of almost an accepted thing, but when you look at it, the law treats it very seriously as a Class A Misdemeanor. When you start talking about putting somebody in jail for a year and charging them 4000 dollars, that tells you how seriously it's viewed," says Barbee.
As for the roosters...they aren't as lucky as many of the animals at the center that have the opportunity to get adopted out.
"Unfortunately with true fighting birds, birds that have been bred and groomed and trained to fight, there's not a lot of hope for being able to re-home them or rehabilitate them. The majority of the birds that we're holding here at the complex right now are very aggressive towards people and obviously towards other birds and so it would be a liability for us to release them back into the community where they potentially could get out and harm someone else's pets or even a person," says Fischer.
The possible punishment for a class a misdemeanor is a fine up to $4,000, up to a year in jail or both.