Animal Fighting

This list of agency contacts and information’s intent is to identify appropriate organizations that can assist on-scene officers and follow-up investigative units that encounter events involving fighting cocks.

Cockfighting Calls

Notices & Downloads

Law enforcement encounters with in-progress cockfights appear to be increasing. This list of agency contacts and information’s intent is to identify appropriate organizations that can assist on-scene officers and follow-up investigative units that encounter events involving fighting cocks.

To help assist you, you can print this file and it will give you things such as applicable penal code sections, agencies to contact that can help you in the field and or after the fact, and links to individuals to that can provide expertise for prosecution.

Ca. Department Of Food and Agriculture Advisory

 

 

Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is a highly contagious and fatal viral disease which affects birds only. While END is considered a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD), an outbreak in Southern California in 2002 and a more recent outbreak in Mexico earlier this year demonstrate the need for continual surveillance. Consequently, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remain vigilant and are testing birds found in high-risk situations.

If in the course of your law enforcement duties if you locate a large number of roosters (50 or more), or you encounter a cockfight, the below listings are the current contacts for the District Offices of the CDFA’s Animal Health Branch (AHB) and the counties they service. Locate your county and contact the appropriate office for field-testing of birds as needed.

The CDFA will dispatch veterinarians to test birds for various poultry diseases including Avian Influenza (bird flu) Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) and any other potentially contagious avian virus.

In the event the encounter occurs during a weekend or holiday, please follow the directions given on the district’s answering machine. It will direct you to another number or to leave your information and your call will be returned the next business day.

Although the Garden Grove office for the Exotic Newcastle Disease Eradication program has closed, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remain vigilant and are testing birds found in high-risk situations.

In the course of your duties you locate a large number of roosters (50 or more), or you encounter a cockfight, the below listings are the current contacts for the District Offices of the CDFA’s Animal Health Branch (AHB) and the counties they service. Locate your county and contact the appropriate office for field-testing of birds as needed.

The CDFA will dispatch veterinarians to test birds for various poultry diseases including Avian Influenza (bird flu) Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) and any other potentially contagious avian virus.

In the event the encounter occurs during a weekend or holiday, please follow the directions given on the district’s answering machine. It will direct you to another number or to leave your information and your call will be returned the next business day.

Redding District Office
Dr. Charles Palmer
Veterinarian-In-Charge, 530-225-2140
Del Norte, Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, Trinity, Humboldt, Tehama, Mendocino, Glenn, Butte, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Yuba, Sutter, Colusa, Glenn, Yolo, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Marin, Lake

Modesto District Office
Dr. David Willoughby
Veterinarian-In-Charge, 209-491-9350
Sacramento, Amador, El Dorado, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Mono, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, San Francisco

Tulare District Office
Dr. Melanie Swartz
Veterinarian-In-Charge, 559-685-3500
Madera, Fresno, Inyo, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Santa Barbara, Kings, Tulare

Ontario District Office
Dr. David Kerr
Veterinarian-In-Charge, 909-947-4462
San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Imperial

Agency Contacts

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Office of Inspector General (OIG)

The OIG is an enforcement arm of the USDA and is responsible for federal case preparation for prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for, but not limited to the movement of birds across state lines and to foreign countries.

Candice J. Meigs
Special Investigator
Department of Food and Agriculture
Division of Animal Health and Food Safety
Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch (559) 297-3230
Candice.Meigs@cdfa.ca.gov

Jackie Roberson
Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge
401 W. Washington St., Ste. 425, Space 77
Phoenix, AZ 85003
(602) 364-7980
(602) 364-7988 Fax
Area of Responsibility: Fresno, CA and Arizona

Patricia Contreras
Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge
21660 E. Copley Drive, Ste. 370
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
(909) 396-7980
(909) 396-9716 Fax
pcontreras@oig.usda.gov
Area of Responsibility: Los Angeles and San Diego

Alejandro (Alex) Quintero
Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge
430 G. St., #4166
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 792-5760
(530) 792-5769 Fax
aquintero@oig.usda.gov
Area of Responsibility: San Francisco, Sacramento and Northern California

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

The HSUS can provide expertise in various areas involving animal fighting including but not limited to evidence collection, sport history, expert witnesses and agency training.
Contact Info:

Eric L. Sakach
Senior Law Enforcement Specialist
esakach@humanesociety.org
(916)765-8716

The Humane Society of the United States
P.O. Box 2934
Orangevale, CA 95662
humanesociety.org

Local Agencies within your jursidiction…

Animal Control
This agency is responsible for the euthanasia, housing and control of the birds and expertise for prosecution.

Environmental Health/Hazardous Materials
This agency can assess sewage, personal sanitation, unsafe health conditions, etc.

Code Enforcement
This agency can address hazards on the property including but not limited to illegal electrical, pirated utilities, non-permitted structures, animal restrictions, etc.

 

Cockfighting Penal Code Sections

The following Penal Code Sections apply directly to animal fighting:

PC 597b (Penalties)

(a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), any person who, for amusement or gain, causes any bull, bear, or other animal, not including any dog, to fight with like kind of animal or creature, or causes any animal, including any dog, to fight with a different kind of animal or creature, or with any human being, or who, for amusement or gain, worries or injures any bull, bear, dog, or other animal, or causes any bull, bear, or other animal, not including any dog, to worry or injure each other, or any person who permits the same to be done on any premises under his or her charge or control, or any person who aids or abets the fighting or worrying of an animal or creature, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(b) Any person who, for amusement or gain, causes any cock to fight with another cock or with a different kind of animal or creature or with any human being; or who, for amusement or gain, worries or injures any cock, or causes any cock to worry or injure another animal; and any person who permits the same to be done on any premises under his or her charge or control, and any person who aids or abets the fighting or worrying of any cock is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(c) A second or subsequent conviction of this section is a misdemeanor or a felony punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year or the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years, by a fine not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine, except in unusual circumstances in which the interests of justice would be better served by the imposition of a lesser sentence.
(d) For the purposes of this section, aiding and abetting a violation of this section shall consist of something more than merely being present or a spectator at a place where a violation is occurring.
Practice Notes: This section is priorable and requires a change of plea

PC 597c (Spectators)

Any person who is knowingly present as a spectator at any place, building, or tenement for an exhibition of animal fighting, or who is knowingly present at that exhibition or is knowingly present where preparations are being made for the acts described in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 597b, is guilty of a misdemeanor Enacted in 2006
Practice Notes: not priorable
This broadens the scope of defendants who can be charged, but retains a specific intent requirement. An earlier case, dealing with former PC 597b(a) ruled that prohibiting presence as spectator at an animal fight, is a specific intent requirement and requires proof that the defendant was present as spectator for purpose of watching animal fighting. Under that construction, use of the word “spectator” in this section was not unconstitutionally vague. People vs. Superior Court (Elder) (App. 5. Dist. 1988) 201 Cal App. 3d 1061, certiorari denied 488 U.S. 1030.

PC 597i (Possession of cockfighting implements)

(a)It shall be unlawful for anyone to manufacture, buy, sell, barter, exchange, or have in his or her possession any of the implements commonly known as gaffs or slashers, or any other sharp implement designed to be attached in place of the natural spur of a Gamecock or other fighting bird.
(b) Any person who violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine and upon conviction thereof shall, in addition to any judgment or sentence imposed by the court, forfeit possession or ownership of those implements.
Practice Notes: this Section is not Priorable
Specific provisions of statutes which establish misdemeanor offenses relating to cockfighting, and possession of cockfighting implements, are not inconsistent with general animal cruelty statutes, violation of which is a felony, and thus do not preclude prosecution under felony statutes of persons involved in cockfighting, People vs. Baniqued (app. 3 Dist 2000) 85 cal. App. 4th 13

PC 597j (Persons who own, possess, keep or train any bird or other animal with the intent that it be fought)

(a) Any person who owns, possesses, keeps, or trains any bird or other animal with the intent that it be used or engaged by himself or herself, by his or her vendee, or by any other person in an exhibition of fighting as described in Section 597b is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(b) This section shall not apply to an exhibition of fighting of a dog with another dog.
(c) A second or subsequent conviction of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine, except in unusual circumstances in which the interests of justice would be better served by the imposition of a lesser sentence.
Practice note: Priorable in that the fine goes up to a maximum of $25,000 on a second offense

PC 597.7 (Confining animals to motor vehicles)

(a) No person shall leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.
(b) Unless the animal suffers great bodily injury, a first conviction for violation of this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100) per animal. If the animal suffers great bodily injury, a violation of this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment. Any subsequent violation of this section, regardless of injury to the animal, is also punishable by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment.
(c)(1) Nothing in this section shall prevent a peace officer, humane officer, or an animal control officer from removing an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal’s safety appears to be in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.
(2) A peace officer, humane officer, or animal control officer who removes an animal from a motor vehicle shall take it to an animal shelter or other place of safekeeping or, if the officer deems necessary, to a veterinary hospital for treatment.
(3) A peace officer, humane officer, or animal control officer is authorized to take all steps that are reasonably necessary for the removal of an animal from a motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, breaking into the motor vehicle, after a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible.
(4) A peace officer, humane officer, or animal control officer who removes an animal from a motor vehicle shall, in a secure and conspicuous location on or within the motor vehicle, leave written notice bearing his or her name and office, and the address of the location where the animal can be claimed. The animal may be claimed by the owner only after payment of all charges that have accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment, or impoundment of the animal.
(5) This section does not affect in any way existing liabilities or immunities in current law, or create any new immunities or liabilities.
(d) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under both this section and Section 597 or any other provision of law, including city or county ordinances.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the transportation of horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry or other agricultural animals in motor vehicles designed to transport such animals for agricultural purposes.
Practice Note- This could be a useful fallback section

PC 599aa (Seizure and disposal of Fighting Animals)

(a) Any authorized officer making an arrest under Section 597.5 shall, and any authorized officer making an arrest under Section 597b, 597c, 597j, or 599a may, lawfully take possession of all birds or animals and all paraphernalia, implements or other property or things used or employed, or about to be employed, in the violation of any of the provisions of this code relating to the fighting of birds or animals that can be used in animal or bird fighting, in training animals or birds to fight, or to inflict pain or cruelty upon animals or birds in respect to animal or bird fighting.
(b) Upon taking possession, the officer shall inventory the items seized and question the persons present as to the identity of the owner or owners of the items. The inventory list shall identify the location where the items were seized, the names of the persons from whom the property was seized, and the names of any known owners of the property.
Any person claiming ownership or possession of any item shall be provided with a signed copy of the inventory list which shall identify the seizing officer and his or her employing agency. If no person claims ownership or possession of the items, a copy of the inventory list shall be left at the location from which the items were seized.
(c) The officer shall file with the magistrate before whom the complaint against the arrested person is made, a copy of the inventory list and an affidavit stating the affiant’s basis for his or her belief that the property and items taken were in violation of this code. On receipt of the affidavit, the magistrate shall order the items seized to be held until the final disposition of any charges filed in the case subject to subdivision (e).
(d) All animals and birds seized shall, at the discretion of the seizing officer, be taken promptly to an appropriate animal storage facility. For purposes of this subdivision, an appropriate animal storage facility is one in which the animals or birds may be stored humanely. However, if an appropriate animal storage facility is not available, the officer may cause the animals or birds used in committing or possessed for the purpose of the alleged offenses to remain at the location at which they were found. In determining whether it is more humane to leave the animals or birds at the location at which they were found than to take the animals or birds to an animal storage facility, the officer shall, at a minimum, consider the difficulty of transporting the animals or birds and the adequacy of the available animal storage facility. When the officer does not seize and transport all animals or birds to a storage facility, he or she shall do both of the following:
(1) Seize a representative sample of animals or birds for evidentiary purposes from the animals or birds found at the site of the alleged offenses. The animals or birds seized as a representative sample shall be transported to an appropriate animal storage facility.
(2) Cause all animals or birds used in committing or possessed for the purpose of the alleged offenses to be banded, tagged, or marked by microchip, and photographed or videotaped for evidentiary purposes.
(e)(1) If ownership of the seized animals or birds cannot be determined after reasonable efforts, the officer or other person named and designated in the order as custodian of the animals or birds may, after holding the animals and birds for a period of not less than 10 days, petition the magistrate for permission to humanely destroy or otherwise dispose of the animals or birds. The petition shall be published for three successive days in a newspaper of general circulation. The magistrate shall hold a hearing on the petition not less than 10 days after seizure of the animals or birds, after which he or she may order the animals or birds to be humanely destroyed or otherwise disposed of, or to be retained by the officer or person with custody until the conviction or final discharge of the arrested person. No animal or bird may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of until 4 days after the order.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall apply only to those animals and birds seized under any of the following circumstances:
(A) After having been used in violation of any of the provisions of this code relating to the fighting of birds or animals.
(B) At the scene or site of a violation of any of the provisions of this code relating to the fighting of birds or animals.
(f) Upon the conviction of the arrested person, all property seized shall be adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall then be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the court may order. Upon the conviction of the arrested person, the court may order the person to make payment to the appropriate public entity for the costs incurred in the housing, care, feeding, and treatment of the animals or birds. Each person convicted in connection with a particular animal or bird, excluding any person convicted as a spectator pursuant to Section 597b or 597c, or subdivision (b) of Section 597.5, may be held jointly and severally liable for restitution pursuant to this subdivision. This payment shall be in addition to any other fine or other sentence ordered by the court. The court shall specify in the order that the public entity shall not enforce the order until the defendant satisfies all other outstanding fines, penalties, assessments, restitution fines, and restitution orders. The court may relieve any convicted person of the obligation to make payment pursuant to this subdivision for good cause but shall state the reasons for that decision in the record. In the event of the acquittal or final discharge without conviction of the arrested person, the court shall, on demand, direct the delivery of the property held in custody to the owner. If the owner is unknown, the court shall order the animals or birds to be humanely destroyed or otherwise disposed of.