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Monterey County Sued for Failure to Enforce Anti-Cockfighting Law

Monterey County is refusing to enforce its anti-cockfighting ordinance, allowing over a thousand illegal rooster-keeping facilities across the county to operate, according to a lawsuit filed by Advancing Law for Animals on behalf of Humane Farming Association (HFA) and SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) on Wednesday. This non-enforcement perpetuates animal cruelty, the spread of disease, and deprives taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from fees assessed on violators, the complaint alleges.

The United States Department of Justice explains that animal fighting exhibitions such as cockfighting are linked to “gang, weapons, human trafficking, gambling, and narcotics offenses.” As recognized by the California legislature, “There is an undeniable connection between cockfighting and other significant issues such as illegal gambling, drug trafficking, violence toward people and … the spread of deadly and devastating diseases.”

“Even amid the global coronavirus pandemic, large crowds congregate to bet on illegal cockfights; a recent investigation uncovered hundreds of spectators gathering, without wearing masks or social distancing, while human handlers sucked blood from the necks and heads of wounded roosters,” asserted the lawsuit.

Monterey County, California is a known hot bed for illegal rooster keeping and cockfighting. According to a 2019 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury report, “[I]n Monterey County, there are an estimated one thousand known illegal rooster keeping operations housing thousands of roosters.” While the County requires individuals with five or more roosters to obtain a permit, there is not one valid permit on file.

According to the lawsuit, Monterey County is required by its local anti-cockfighting ordinance to act on the public’s complaints of illegal rooster-keeping operations in order to shut them down. The County is also required to collect fees from rooster-keeping facilities operating in violation of the law.

Over the course of its aerial drone investigations, HFA and SHARK have discovered numerous illegal rooster-keeping operations. These unlawful operations hold dozens or hundreds of roosters, without a permit, and often in squalid conditions. Although HFA and SHARK have repeatedly reported a laundry-list of violators to Monterey County, the County refuses to undertake its mandatory duties under the law.

The lawsuit requests a court order requiring, among other things, Monterey County and related divisions/departments to perform inspections mandated by law, and collect revenue as required from violators.

Read the full complaint here.


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