Authorities Seize 77 Roosters In Large-Scale Cockfighting Bust Despite Governor Appearing To Support Cockfighting

Image not from story (Photo by HUSSEIN FALEH/AFP via Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
Font Size:

Police in central Oklahoma seized 77 roosters in an unscheduled cockfighting bust while responding to a fire incident Jan. 23, authorities said Monday.

Animal welfare officers assisting the Norman Fire Department were responding to a barn fire when they discovered the “large-scale rooster fighting operation located in close proximity to the fire” and alerted the Norman Police Department (NPD), according to an NPD statement.

Officials found nine puppies killed by the fire but were able to rescue the 77 roosters, according to the statement. The roosters were “found in deplorable conditions alongside evidence of brutal training and exploitation of the animals for fighting purposes,” the statement noted.

The authorities would move the roosters to an out-of-state sanctuary for treatment and rehabilitation. Investigations into the “illegal and inhumane activity” were ongoing and criminal charges pending, according to the statement.

The sanctuary was identified as the Rooster Sanctuary at Danzig’s Roost in Bennet, Colorado, the Animal Wellness Action and The Center for a Humane Economy said in a joint statement to the Daily Caller.

The police operation, the latest in a string of recent busts, shows that efforts by cockfighting supporters to persuade the Oklahoma Legislature to soften the state’s 2002 cockfighting law appear counterproductive, the joint statement noted.

The cockfighting supporters’ efforts “seem to have increased awareness of the cockfighting problem and triggered more enforcement actions than at any time” since 2002, according to the joint statement.

The cockfighting community sought relaxed measures because”they want to reduce their risk of arrest and prosecution,” Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said in the statement. (RELATED: Woman Claimed She Cut Her Dog ‘To Sacrifice To The Gods To Save Humanity,’ Police Say: REPORT)

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt took considerable flak for “tak[ing] a moment to cheer [the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission (OGC)] from the sidelines” in a November 2023 video address regarded as a veiled support for cockfighting. YouTube reportedly indefinitely took down the original video. Months before, the OGC reportedly had unsuccessfully pushed for reduced penalties for cockfighting, according to The Oklahoman. Authorities had arrested Chance Campo, an OGC district director, along with several others for cockfighting in August 2023 KFOR reported.

The OGC had allegedly donated money to 34 sitting Oklahoman office-holders, including Gov. Stitt, before 2023, KFOR separately reported. Some of the recipients reportedly returned the monies upon learning more about the group.