Rescued roosters at Happy Trails

By Mike sever | staff writer Published:

About 40 roosters rescued from a suspected cockfighting ring in Cleveland last weekend are finding peace and food at the Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary.

One man was arrested and 40 detained in a March 2 raid on a home on the West Side of Cleveland.

Acting on a tip, officers found the men in the attic of a home, engaged in cockfighting, betting on the fate of roosters set to fight each other. Two dead birds were removed from the home along with the live ones. Eight others were euthanized after they were seized.

The homeowner was charged with cruelty to animals and killing or injuring animals. He has pleaded not guilty. He also signed over ownership of the seized animals to Happy Trails.

This isn't the first rooster rescue Happy Trails has done, said Annette Fisher, executive director of Happy Trails. The farm took in 45 roosters from a raid in Lorain County, she said.

"Cockfighting is endemic," Fisher said. "There are rings in every county in Ohio, I assure you."

Friday afternoon, volunteers were unloading cage after cage from a horse van, each covered cage holding a rooster. They had to be kept separate or they would fight, said Annette Fisher, executive director. Some did manage to fight during the drive down from Cleveland, despite thick blankets between the cages.

Roosters of all colors and many breeds came out of the cages -- from pure white to multi-colored with long tails and regal ruffs around their necks. Most of them were emaciated.

Raised to fight each other, they were docile in the hands of volunteers Angela Rahn, Cindy Dilley and Leona Urban. One rooster pecked away at brass snaps on the overalls worn by volunteer Greg Carr, who was setting up a heat lamp.

Each of the cages carried a name tag, "of (Cleveland) Indians past and present" said Dilley.

Most of the roosters are being housed in a warm barn at the Ravenna township sanctuary until they can be evaluated and placed for adoption. Six roosters were set aside for a trip to the veterinarian. "They're not in good shape," Fisher said. Two had severe eye injuries, the others had crippled legs and broken toes.

The birds will be observed to judge their behavior and adoptability, Fisher said. People interested in adopting a rooster may inquire at Happy Trails by phone at 330-296-5914 or on the Happy Trails website -- happytrailsfarm.org -- for information.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

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