Cockfighting is a centuries-old cruel blood-sport in which two or more specially bred roosters (called game-cocks) are placed in a pit (generally a small, above-ground, enclosed space) to fight. A cockfight usually results in the death of at least one of the birds, but sometimes both animals die in the pit. Spectators participate for entertainment and gambling purposes.
How do the roosters fight?
The cocks are placed beak to beak and then released, fighting until one is either killed, can fight no longer, or refuses to fight.
Each bird may be outfitted with razor-sharp steel blades, called gaffs, measuring roughly 7.5 centimetres (three inches) in length. These gaffs are attached to the legs of the game-cocks. These game-cocks, who are naturally territorial, fight to establish dominance. The fight is incredibly bloody and bitter. Some of the most commonly sustained injuries in a cockfight are broken bones, pierced eyes, bloody slashes and punctured lungs.
Roosters (cocks) are territorial animals. In a natural setting, roosters fight for dominance in their groups; however, these fights seldom result in death. By contrast, game-cocks have been bred through generations to be highly aggressive. Many of the birds used for cockfighting have established lineage.
Do these animals suffer?
Yes. Two birds are pitted against each other in an enclosed space and they are not allowed to escape no matter how tired they become or how serious their injuries are. As the birds are generally wearing razor sharp gaffs (described above) injuries are unavoidable and severe. These blades are specifically designed to wound, and draw blood. The birds often receive puncture wounds, broken bones, and can lose their eyes. They often fight to the death and those who are not killed during this bloody battle are left with untreated injuries.
In preparation for fighting, birds also have their sensitive combs and their spur-claws crudely and painfully cut off. The cocks are generally kept tied continuously to a tether, with other cocks nearby, causing prolonged frustration.
How do people who organize cockfights get the birds to fight?
Through a combination of breeding, feeding, training, steroids and drugs, the roosters become increasingly strong and aggressive. Over several months, they may be made to run obstacle courses, spend long hours on a treadmill, have practice fights with lesser competitors or become harassed or beaten with training tools crafted to look like rival roosters. Worse still, prior to a fight, the animals may be plucked and their wattles and combs sliced off to prevent an opponent from damaging them during combat.
What should I do if I suspect that there is cockfighting or dog fighting happening in my neighbourhood?
If you suspect that illegal animal fighting is occurring, please notify the BC SPCA Cruelty Investigations Department immediately.
Are there similarities between cockfighting and dog fighting?
Yes. Although there are obvious differences between the animals involved, both species suffer terribly as a result of the fighting and the associated practices. Many less aggressive animals are used for sparring purposes and are injured or killed. The animals who prove to be better fighters are placed in fight after fight, as the stakes are high. The lives of these animals are short, and filled with pain and suffering.
What happens to roosters found on a property in Canada?
In Canada, federal legislation -- Criminal Code of Canada, Section 447(2) -- requires that any roosters found on a property where a cockfighting pit is found must be euthanized.
Is cockfighting illegal?
Yes it is. Both cockfighting and dog fighting are illegal activities. The BC SPCA is committed to investigating and recommending charges against anyone involved in cockfighting across the province. Although animal fighting is illegal in Canada, organized dog fighting and cockfighting does in fact still take place. The BC SPCA is fundamentally opposed to this blood-sport that causes injury and suffering to the animals involved.