February 10, 2014
By: Gina Browning, SPCA Director of Public Relations

Six thousand fighting roosters seized from tri-county animal fighting ring

UPDATE, FEBRUARY 11: The ASPCA has increased the number of the roosters seized yesterday in one of the largest cockfighting raids in US history to 6,000; originally the number was thought to be half that. At the ASPCA's request, the SPCA Serving Erie County will send three additional staff members to a New York State location to assist with handling the roosters. SPCA staffers Christina Vitello, Jeffrey Rouch, and William Cluney are scheduled to depart Buffalo Friday, Feb. 21. If necessary, two additional staff members are scheduled to depart Buffalo Tuesday, Feb. 25. Please watch YourSPCA.org for continued updates.

The SPCA Serving Erie County's Assistant Manager of Animal Caretaking, Joan Phinney, is currently in an undisclosed location in New York State assisting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (ASPCA) the Ulster County Sheriff's Office, and New York State Police after the largest cockfighting raid in New York State history, and among the largest in US history. More than 6,000 roosters (originally thought to be closer to 3,000) from Queens, Kings, and Ulster Counties were seized in the raid, coined "Operation: Angry Birds."

Additional staff from the SPCA Serving Erie County are expected to be sent later this week to assist with handling, removing, transporting, and sheltering of the roosters.

The New York Post is reporting that, to date, more than 70 arrests have been made (http://nypost.com/2014/02/10/70-arrested-in-new-yorks-largest-ever-cockfighting-bust/), and ABC News reports that, according to the state attorney general's office, nine of those are felony arrests (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ny-ag-3000-birds-rescued-cockfighting-bust-22436902).

In an ASPCA press release issued this morning, ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker stated, "
No animal should be forced to fight to the death, and we’re proud to play a leading role in removing and caring for these victimized birds, as well as offering expert legal assistance in this case. This collaborative act of investigation, intervention and enforcement is a giant step toward our shared goal of wiping out cockfighting in America.”

Senior Vice President of the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Group, Stacy Wolf, said, "Our primary goal
was to immediately remove these birds from a cycle of violence and suffering. We’re proud to lend our expertise in partnership with the New York State Attorney General’s Office and to work alongside law enforcement agencies to help put an end to this heinous and senseless crime.”

The press release also reported that gambling was present at the fights, with records of individual wagers reaching $10,000.

Read more about the ASPCA's work in this case here.


Those who witness a situation that might constitute
cruelty and/or violence toward animals in Erie County,
including animals left outdoors with inappropriate
shelter in yards, are encouraged to report the
circumstances to the SPCA Serving Erie County:
716-875-7360 or cruelty@yourspca.org.