Live fighting birds seized in a raid at a home in Valinda are loaded onto a… (Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles…)
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies broke up a large-scale cockfight in the backyard of a Valinda home Saturday, discovering more than 40 live fighting birds and arresting four alleged spectators as about 100 people managed to flee.
Deputies found at least 11 dead roosters and two more with sharp metal spurs lashed to their legs still fighting when they arrived at the home shortly after 10:20 a.m., said sheriff's Sgt. Tom Wilson. The two birds were "gasping for their last breath" and were so badly injured that they will have to be euthanized, he said.
"I've seen a lot of terrible things, but this is as bad as it gets — just looking at the animals suffering," Wilson said.
Deputies responded to a tip about the fight in the 15800 block of Fairgrove Avenue in Valinda, an unincorporated community in the San Gabriel Valley.
When the first deputies arrived, about 100 people at the home scattered in all directions, Wilson said. Some of the spectators were as young as 13 or 14.
Sheriff's deputies arrested three adults and one juvenile on suspicion of watching an animal fight exhibition, a misdemeanor.
At the home, deputies discovered about 45 live roosters that had been brought in boxes. Some were fitted with sharpened metal spurs designed to inflict damage on other birds during fights, Wilson said. He said there were no facilities for housing birds on the premises.
"They move from place to place," he said. "Eventually they know we'll find out about them."
In the backyard was a fighting ring and a preparation tent along with medical supplies. The roosters had been groomed for fighting, with their combs and wattles cut off, Wilson said.
Early Saturday afternoon, sheriff's deputies were still at the home loading boxes of birds onto trucks from the county Department of Animal Care and Control.
Wilson said authorities were trying to determine whether the homeowner, who was not present when deputies arrived, was involved in setting up the event. He said the fight appeared to have taken days to prepare.
Karina Lopez, who lives across the street, said she saw several men run out and jump into a black Chevrolet Suburban when sheriff's deputies pulled up to the house.
Lopez, 21, said she was shocked to learn from a deputy that a cockfight had been staged in her neighborhood.
"I've been living here for almost 17 years. It's been pretty calm," she said. "This is a surprising thing."
Times staff photographer Barbara Davidson contributed to this report.