RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) -Hundreds of roosters are forced to participate in cockfights every year in Texas. This issue is also impacting the East Texas area.
Two cockfighting rings were discovered about four weeks apart in Rusk County. Approximately, 155 animals were found by officials and 13 people were arrested.
Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez wants to help bring an end to cockfights in East Texas.
“The more people who understand what this actually is and what they’re actually seeing will shed more light on cockfighting,” he said.
On June 14, The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office said they seized 30 fighting roosters from a property on County Road 2164.
Deputies launched an investigation after receiving a tip that cockfighting was taking place at the location. They also found equipment used to train roosters to fight.
Some weeks later on July 4, around 125 animals were seized by the sheriff’s office after an illegal cockfighting ring was discovered in the 15000 block of County Road 2132.
13 people were arrested on this day.
“This is a very large bust because not only did we get people actively cockfighting whenever we arrived… if you pan to my right there’s all the dead roosters,” said Valdez.
The sheriff also stated, cockfighting is a growing issue in rural areas.
“In order to do that they have to get in uninhabited areas. So sometimes it’s very difficult to track them, I don’t think that’s an indication of how much cockfighting is going on in East Texas,” said Valdez.
Additionally, the community plays an important role in helping combat this problem.
Leaders at the SPCA of Texas says the best way to regulate animal cruelty is for the community to communicate with law enforcement. This is what Rusk County residents during the two most recent cockfighting ring busts.
“Right now, the biggest thing, it’s kind of an old adage. If you see something or hear something, say something,” said Maura Davies, with the SPCA.
The roosters seized in the Independence Day incident were all taken to a local farm to get tested for illnesses as they prepared to get adopted.
Unfortunately, the birds contracted a fatal respiratory disease that would cause them to suffocate to death.
“I was shocked because I thought we were going to have a happy ending to all of this, and we got a curve ball thrown at us,” said Valdez.
It’s a sad ending for the roosters, but it could be the new beginning for law enforcement to collaborate with animal advocacy groups to protects animals.
“It’s not just about dogs and cats. It’s about all the animals.” Valdez said.