Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Compassion for cocks - and other good news.

The day before our shots fair in East Oakland, Oakland PD busted a cockfighting operation in a warehouse in the same neighborhood, arresting 69 people. After a heavy weekend of wrangling birds, shuffling loads of office furniture around to re-tile shelter floors, dealing with heavy rains & pent up, muddy dogs, and the details of a busy Shots Fair, everyone at Oakland Animal Services was more than exhausted and ready for a power nap Sunday night.

Bravo to OPD for getting this bust. I love that OAS staff selected eight hens from the bust for its adoption program. Fighting birds - like "fighting dogs" - deserve to be treated as individuals too!
When animal control officers arrived, they found two roosters, one dead and one dying, in the constructed “fight pit,” 28 recently dead birds in a hole in the yard, 10 dead birds inside, and 80 live birds. Approximately half of the live birds were moderately to severely injured. These injuries consisted of lacerations from fighting with “gaffs,” extremely sharp knifes that are attached to their feet. As the birds fight, these knives slice and cut, until one bird is killed and the other is declared the “winner.”
Camp Fire

Eight out-of-towners returned home from BR's winter Pit Ed Camp session this week. A big crew! Campers came from New Orleans LA-SPCA, the Illinois Humane, PAWS Chicago, ASPCA Spay/Neuter Mobile Clinic, Indianapolis ACC, Humane Society of Indianapolis and Indy Pit Crew! We had a blast with this group of diehards and look forward to working together on future projects. Woof!



BIG PRIDE for alum campers from Hillsborough County Animal Services (Tampa) Florida today. Not only are they spitting back at talk of a breed ban in Florida, they spun the media interest around to support the breed and promote their pit bull adoption program instead. Ha! Now that's style.

Their current pit-mix ambassadog Jazzy (left) got her two minutes of fame in the news broadcast.

We know that Kelly Bigsby and her crew can pick a great dog, so if any Florida readers are considering a new pet for your family, go check this program out. 

    See the news video.


"You're going to take my family pet? Come try it' And I think that would be my nightmare as an animal control officer trying to enforce it [a breed ban]." - Bill Armstrong Director Hillsborough County Animal Services

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

You said it Bill! You want to come and take my family pet???? Think again, anyone!!! This is when the terrier in us would come out in a massive way.

Why don't these places ever learn? It (breed bans) never work...never.

Dina

Anonymous said...

Awesome job!!!! Look at all those beautiful pits.

Tofu Pup said...

I am very concerned about all the roosters euthanized in the top story of the cockfighting bust.

How can BadRap celebrating this as a positive story? Euthanizing fighting roosters instead of rehabilitating them and finding them nice homes is just as bad as euthanizing the Vick dogs.

This is just terrible; where are the animal rights groups when it comes to saving these poor fighting roosters? They deserve as much of a chance as any fighting dog.

Donna said...

Tofu Pup - we're celebrating the bust, and the fact that eight birds were absorbed into adoption.

We're not aware of any groups that could've absorbed the others. Do have contacts? If so, please share. Thx.

lb said...

tofupup: actually, that was one of the hardest parts of it, for me. having to euthanize all of those birds. many of them were suffering, and many more would have suffered in the hands of the wrong people, but i was thinking the same thing that donna wrote in the post- couldn't someone have evaluated these birds as individuals? maybe BR will inspire some chicken advocates to step up? one day... i'm going to look into it, it was a hard day.

on the bright side, the day after we brought back the hens, a wonderful mother/daughter pair came in to adopt chickens. i showed them the birds and they came back the next day and adopted a hen. they may come back for another.

Donna said...

Yep - without ready chicken advocates, there can't be any chicken advocacy. Altho eight birds saved ain't nothin to sneeze at, and quite a progressive move for a busy city shelter.

In the meantime - Talk is cheap - Will the real cock advocates please stand up!

Tofu Pup said...

There are lots of chicken sanctuaries all over the U.S. to which the fighting roosters could have been dispersed. I understand the Vick dogs were shipped all over the country; why was the same not done for these fighting birds?

A google search turns up tons of chicken sanctuaries: Animal Place, Animal Acres, Farm Sanctuary, Chicowitany Chicken Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns, Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary.... the list goes on.

Is there a reason only a handful of hens were spared? What about the poor roosters-- they were the most abused ones, yet they got no mercy.

Donna said...

Tofu Pup, I don't believe it's as easy as pulling up names on google and shipping birds off. Better to have actual relationships with people who have a proven track record with these cases and - of course - the rare situation of room to spare.

But since this is clearly a very important issue for you, I would encourage you to become active in helping shelters find resources for fighting cocks, since these cases come up all the time all around CA.

Just like with dog fight busts, authorities don't automatically know how to deal with victim animals, but are quite often very happy to work with reasonable people that have a game plan as well as the independent resources to help. For example, when OAS gets in bust dogs, they contact BR of course, but this only happened after we were able to build a relationship and demonstrate our willingness and ability to help.

I have a strong feeling that OAS staff would be very open to viable solutions if they were presented in the spirit of helping. And I would start the conversation by congratulating them on the bust AND on saving eight hens. ;-)

Tofu Pup said...

Well, I just did provide you with a list of sanctuaries with the potential to take in birds, didn't I?

Do you actually want me to call them up and screen them myself? Isn't that the job of the people seizing the animals?

I feel like you're just making excuses for why it's okay to kill fighting birds but not fighting dogs.

Donna said...

Put it this way Tofu Pup, if you REALLY want to change things around to help more animals in your community, sometimes you have to do the work yourself to get the ball rolling. Whatever it takes, right?

It's certainly not to okay to kill cocks or dogs or anything if there are reputable advocates actively waiting to help, and sometimes those best advocates are on the outside, ready to assist shelters so we can all share the burden involved in helping animal victims. This is a community's problem, not a single shelter's burden to deal with.

Wagging fingers on a blog comment list is not advocacy work - it's a reactive response and it's rather impotent approach to affecting change. This is put up or shut up time for all animals and I challenge you to step outside of your negativity and get proactive.

Leila said...

Once more I would like to send kudos for the tireless work of BADRAP and the PitCamps. Education is always the key to changing perception of any issue.

Donna, you, Tim and the other BR volunteers provide such a great example of what Advocacy and Partnership can do in our immediate communities and the ripple effect that can be had.

msnform said...

You go Donna! you showed grace and incredible patience--put up or shut up Tofu pup!

Anonymous said...

Geez Tofu pup!
Start an advocacy group for Fighting Roosters.
Start a blog or a website for them.
I see you`re advocating and seeking donations for your own dog so you know how to do it.

BTW am I one of the few who doesn`t beg on the Internet for donations to pay MY Vet bills these days?
I sort of see that as MY responsibility for MY dog.

Kudos on the bust and for helping as many as you could.
I guess you guys are supposed to do everything these days.
Unbelievable

Anonymous said...

Donna,

I think that it is AWESOME that the 8 were saved, considering I have never heard of any being given a second chance.

If you want to make a change, you have to do something to help that process along. Talk is cheap, but actions speak volumes!

Natalie

Cheryl said...

I think Tofu Pup has a point. I hate to see these gamecocks put down. Let's not attack Tofu Pup. That person has the right ethics, and just has the best interest of the roosters in mind. And it's hard to bash animal control agencies for euthanizing fighting dogs while not objecting to the same agencies euthanizing fighting roosters.

Donna said...

Ethics? Tofu Pup wants someone else to do the work. That amounts forcing your ethics on someone else and then having an internet temper tantrum when they don't get your memo.

Sorry gals, but I'm about out of patience with the "OAS should've saved more than eight birds" vent. I strongly encourage some hardcore guerilla activism to help the cause you love, including a killer blog that points out all the ways we can support you with loving/rescuing/re-homing the gamecocks you've devoted yourself to. And while I may sound sarcastic, let me say that I fully believe it's possible to re-home gamecocks, but you're going to have to help light the way. Show us!

This is the best blog I could find in the vein of rooster-love. Lots of room for improvement here ....

http://roostertrap.com/blog/

Tim said...

Tofu Pup -

The first dogs we pulled from a fight bust numbered two. I suppose lots of people - including us - could have lambasted the authorities in charge for not saving the rest of them. I'm pretty sure where that would have gotten us. Ten years later, the majority of dogs from fight yards are *still being put down, but many more are being spared than ever before. We all have to start somewhere.

I'm very proud of our local urban shelter for being a leader in adopting out fighting cocks. I"m curious if you have pulled any cocks from OAS, from fight situations or otherwise.

Elizabeth Kennedy said...

I gotta say, Tofu Pup, you’d do well to holster your pistols before busting your next move. That BAD RAP folks even presume to speak to the welfare of dogs is the result of observation, mentorship, skill development, service, networking, and actual, hard-won experiential expertise built from over a decade's worth of work with animals on all fronts. No one here stormed in and started bossing players around without the slightest inkling of what kind of infrastructure was in place that might already be working.

Because they wanted to understand a complex social ill and make a difference in earnest, BAD RAP folks learned from those already working within the overtaxed institutions. That's why they and their partners at local shelters knew it would be irresponsible just to “ship birds” to randomly Googled organization no one knows anything about. And like it or not, there’s a whole mess of organization and cost allocation and administration involved in getting animals from point A to point B too.

These groups and organizations are each subject to different laws and regulations, some with legacy problems, all on brutally short budgets, often with animals too damaged for this world, most with way more animals than fit in the space available, and some days with just too few rewards for too much heartache. No one here needs to be told euthanasia sucks. But these folks have been showing up. For years. Over and over. And they inspire others to do so too.

But here's the good news: you do not need to dive any of the above big issues in order to help out an animal in need. And there’s always an animal in need. The reality of animal welfare requires commitment, not just commentary.

Which reminds me (as my dog snores here beside me), I gotta get me down to OAS and get back on the regular rotation working all those dogs! These animals can do a lot of things, but not without the people who get the hell off the computer and just do it to it.

Thanks for being a reminder of what I need to be doing, Tofu Pup!

Donna said...

Yo Elizabeth. Did you let Stella pull up to the keyboard again? Game girls on the loose!

;-)

Rinalia said...

Hey Tofu Pup; Okay, bear with me...

I work for Animal Place.

I sympathize with you. Fighting roos are rarely placed, most are killed. As someone who loves roosters, I find it heartbreaking.

But if you think finding homes for pit bulls is tough, try placing roosters. They are the single hardest farmed animal to place; I can find a home for an 800lb pig quicker than I can a 2lb bantam rooster.

With 15 roosters of our own, we cannot safely take in any more. This is true of many sanctuaries.

Integrating adult fighting roosters into populations with other roos can be nightmarish. Not impossible, but it just isn't easy.

The only solution is eliminating cockfighting. Trying to place large numbers of potentially roo-aggressive, sometimes human aggressive roosters is, well, you'll defy gravity falling off a cliff sooner.

OAS is one of two government run shelters I can think of who have actively addressed farmed animal issues in northern California. The decision to euthanize these birds was not made out of callous disregard to the birds. If they thought that placement was possible, they would have contacted us as they have done in the past.

I still agree killing fight-bust roosters is unfair and wrong. I just cannot fathom how it is currently unavoidable, though, knowing how hard it is to find permanent placement for even the friendliest of roos.

If you know of anyone who is interested in adopting roosters, have them contact us at info@animalplace.org. We keep a list of people who want to adopt farmed animals...we always need homes for roosters!

-marji/rinalia

Donna said...

Thank you Rinalia

I was hoping you'd peek in on this thread.

Adam said...

Thanks everyone for all your thoughts on fighting roosters. As my co-worker said above euthanizing the roosters was a long, sad ordeal. Many of them had serious injuries and were bleeding out. Sadly cockfighting is only a misdemeanor on the first offense in California and doesn't hold the same penalties as dog fighting. But for us in Oakland, as for much of California, it is a much bigger problem than dog fighting.
The issue with placing roosters in general is a complicated one. As animal place says above most places can have only a limited number of roosters. This is just a reflection of their nature and how they live naturally. I have contacted just about every single one of the organizations tofu pup listed and more throughout my career on the east coast and now out here. I have found it takes a lot of work to find a spot for even one rooster much less 110. Each of these roosters needs to be housed in a cage by itself (or could be housed with a hen) which makes it very hard for shelters to hold onto the birds for long amounts of time. 110 cages is a lot of cages and for most large shelters to hold the roosters while trying to find placement would mean euthanizing cats or other animals normally held in those cages.
OAS has an old fighting rooster who lives at the shelter. We love him though he is a bit punch drunk. We have had many hens in with him but anytime we try to add a rooster there is a fight. Roosters are roosters and they usually won't tolerate sharing with another rooster. If anyone opens that sanctuary for roosters we'd love to know because at our shelter we probably take in 400-500 a year. And last year in Alameda County they had a raid with 2500.