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These roosters aren’t chicken

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Sheriff’s deputies have stumbled across an enormous fighting cock breeding operation in Nipomo. Deputies were tipped off February 7 after receiving a call from PG&E workers at 550 Joshua Road, who reported hearing gunfire and being rained on by buckshot. Deputies followed what appeared to be the path of the gunshots to 696 Joshua Road, where they discovered a fighting cock breeding operation. 

 According to Brian Hascall, spokesman for the SLO County Sheriff’s Department, deputies knew the 70 birds discovered were fighting cocks because the feathers on the roosters’ heads had been trimmed, an indication that the birds can be fitted with special cock-fighting helmets. Deputies arrested Jesus Valencia, 36, and Jose Valencia, 44, for raising fighting cocks, and possession of cockfighting implements.
 Six days later, animal control officers armed with a search warrant returned, found an estimated 800-900 birds, and arrested Carlos Martinez, 26, for raising fighting cocks and possession of cockfighting implements. 

 “It kind of boggles the mind — these types of numbers,� says Hascall. “It’s the biggest [fighting cock operation] I’ve ever seen in 16 years.� The birds will remain in Nipomo. 

 Authorities confiscated five birds which will be tested for avian flu, and also used as evidence. Cockfighting implements were also impounded. But Hascall says the facility “appears to be a breeding establishment as opposed to a fighting establishment. Part of the investigation is to determine where these birds are going,� says Hascall. “There is the possibility that they could be shipped across the border.� ∆

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