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Cockfight Breeder Probed

October 28, 2002|From Associated Press

Tenants of a poultry ranch in Napa say there is nothing wrong with raising roosters and selling them to people who stage cockfights in Mexico, but California law doesn't agree and animal rights advocates say it's just plain cruel.

Although it is a misdemeanor to raise fighting fowl, Capt. Mike Loughran of the Napa County Sheriff's Department says he can't search the Napa ranch unless evidence links roosters on the property to cockfights in other places.

Unless deputies find fighting paraphernalia nearby or can follow a shipment of fowl to Mexico and observe their fate, there's little the department can do, he said.

The ranch is owned by a Vallejo lawyer, Stephen Camden, who has rented out the property in 12 sections to tenants who raise roosters, chickens, hens and rabbits. The property's manager, Alvaro Castro, said tenants have to follow only one rule: no cockfighting on the premises.

Castro said he was unaware that it is a misdemeanor to raise fighting cocks in California. He also said he didn't know about the 2002 Farm Act, which will make it illegal to ship the birds across state lines. That law will take effect next year.

"I agree that if they catch someone fighting, bust them up, make them pay for it," Castro told the Napa Valley Register. "As for raising them ... I don't see anything wrong."

Castro said fighting cocks must be at least 2 years old before entering a ring, where they fight to the death. For this reason, he said, they have a better life than those raised for supermarkets.

Animal rights groups disagree. Amy Rhodes of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said cockfighting is a blood sport that no one supports except for those who make money from it.

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