THERMAL — For the second time in as many weeks, the Riverside County Animal Services Department responded to a call from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after deputies discovered an illegal cockfighting event in the Coachella Valley.

Participants fled when authorities arrived at the site late Saturday morning, June 6, located in a palm date orchard south of Coachella Valley High in the Thermal area. A makeshift cockfighting ring had been built in the orchard between Airport Boulevard and 57th Avenue.

The property is known as High School Ranch and is privately owned. Two men were in custody who told deputies they were working on the property. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department indicated to Animal Services it would take the lead on the animal cruelty case.

Sgt. Miguel Hernandez led a team of animal control officers, who arrived about noon. They searched the location and discovered 10 dead roosters and 33 birds in carrier boxes spread throughout the orchard.

Two birds that were still alive were severely injured and officers humanely euthanized those two birds.
A sheriff’s deputy provided officers contact with a property manager, who was on scene. The property manager signed a statement of owner release as custodian for all the remaining birds. They were humanely euthanized.

Deputies removed other cockfighting paraphernalia, including several illegal gaffs, a trophy and a ledger with wins and losses and cash, presumably part of a prize pool. Although only two men were on sight when the deputies arrived, several vehicles were left unattended nearby.

Animal control officers removed the deceased birds.

It marked the second straight weekend Animal Services responded to an illegal cockfighting operation. Last Sunday (May 31), officers responded to a property in the western area of Riverside which contained approximately 130 cockfighting birds.

The public is encouraged to call Animal Services if they suspect a cockfighting event is in their neighborhood. Please call 951-358-7387.

Image Sources

  • Cockfighting: Riverside County Department of Animal Services