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Surprising amount of animal related betting takes place
Roosters used in game fighting typically are housed like this and are tethered to keep from fighting neighboring fowl. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

You might be surprised at the amount of underground animal-related betting that takes place in Stanislaus County. This would include illegal horse racing and gambling, dog fighting and rooster ("cock") fighting, the latter two being the most cruel and harmful to the animals. Despite the cruelty and illegality, participants in these so-called "sports" often tend to justify the activities by asserting that it is part of their culture and, therefore, morally acceptable. Apparently the suffering of the animals involved is not part of their moral considerations.

Not only do these illegal activities take place throughout the county, but people who participate are not limited to any class or race; those trying to make money at the expense of animal suffering include the rich, poor, well-respected business people and anyone in between. These illegal sports are so commonplace that there are entire niche websites devoted to them. There are even publications that cover rooster and dog fighting much the same as the magazines that cover popular professional sports like football, basketball and baseball. Two forms of animal abuse that predominate here in this region are dog and rooster ("cock") fighting.

Cock fighting features birds that are selectively bred for aggression, toughness and to viciously fight to the death; they serve no other purpose. They are outfitted with special razors (as artificial spurs) attached to the bird's feet to use as their main offensive weapon. As you might expect, these fights entail a lot of blood and carnage that seem to draw out the worst of the people participating ringside.

Cock fighting, to be sure, is outlawed in all 50 states in this country and is punishable as a felony, reflecting American society's intolerance of animal mistreatment. It is illegal to possess, raise, train, trade or advertise fighting roosters. The legal system, society as a whole and moral imperative requires that cock fighting be prohibited. The abuse of animals is not a sport, it is not entertainment, and it should not be tolerated.

To add to the many reasons why cock fighting is illegal, it is also the case that law enforcement has established a clear connection between it and the illegal drug underworld. In law enforcement, it is a widely accepted proposition that where there is one form of illegal activity, there are likely to be others like money laundering, drug dealing, weapons, etc. Cock fighting has no place in our area and, accordingly, the police and the Stanislaus County Animal Services Agency will investigate and take enforcement action against persons and groups engaging in any prohibited aspect of the cockfighting milieu. Some sociologists assert that the way a society treats animals (or allows them to be treated) is a direct reflection of its sophistication and civility - another reason these criminal activities should be driven from our communities. If, as a citizen, you become aware of this illegal activity, we ask that you promptly notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.