Executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society John Dinon says the sport, though an ancient one, is rare in the area. In Ohio, the activity is a misdemeanor.
At least eight men will appear in Toledo Municipal Court Friday for what could be the city's first cockfighting bust in the past several years.
The men, who are from either Toledo or Michigan, were each charged with one count of animal fighting when they were arrested by police Sunday about 6:15 p.m. at 1029 N. Huron St., according to court records.
"It's very rare [to see cockfighting in Toledo]," said John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo-Area Humane Society. "In fact, I think this is the first case I've heard of in the past three years I've been there. We hear rumors that it goes on, but not anything we've ever gotten solid reports on."
The home is owned by William Sanchez, 76, who was one of the men arrested in the bust, according to the Lucas County auditor.
Police found twelve men inside the garage "gathered around two roosters which were actively fighting," according to a Toledo police incident report.
The men were arraigned in Municipal Court and released on bond for the misdemeanor charge, according to court records.
Cockfighting is a centuries-old sport in which two or more specially bred birds, or gamecocks, are placed in an enclosed pit to fight, according to information on the Humane Society of the United States Web site. A cockfight can last anywhere from several minutes to more than a half-hour and can result in the death of one or both of the birds, the site states.
Ohio is one of only a handful of states where cockfighting is considered a misdemeanor, Mr. Dinon said. He added that there is a bill up for consideration in the Ohio legislature that would make the crime a felony.
House Bill 260 would charge a first-time offender with a fifth-degree felony and a felony of the third degree for each subsequent offense. The bill was introduced to the House on June 14, according to the state's Web site.
The Humane Society said that as of this year, 39 states have made cockfighting a felony offense.
Though Mr. Dinon hadn't heard of the incident as of Tuesday afternoon, he said the Humane Society would follow up with Toledo police to find out what happened to the animals and how to help with the prosecution, he said.
It's unclear what happened to the two roosters and what, if anything, was taken from the residence.
Cockfighting, Mr. Dinon said, is similar to dog fighting in that owners will train the animals to fight and place bets on which animal will outlast the other.
"Generally they are gamecocks or birds that are trained and given supplements," Mr. Dinon said. "When they fight each other, they actually attach knives to their legs. In addition to their natural spurs, they have metal weapons they attach to them."
Mr. Dinon added that it's more likely an animal will die in a cockfight than in a dog fight.
"A lot of times, the losers, unless they are a very prized bird by the fighter, they'll just kill them rather than go to the effort of getting veterinary care," Mr. Dinon said.
Those arrested in the incident include:
- Sergio Deleon-Garcia, 22, 1405 West Woodruff Ave. He was released on a $100 bond;
- Fernando Garcia -- no information through Toledo Municipal Court;
- Juan Guerrero, 32, 732 Bronson Ave. He was released on a $100 bond;
- Luis Guerrero -- no information through Toledo Municipal Court;
- Joel Gutierrez-Briceno, 45, 876 Indian Trail Rd., Carleton, Mich. Released on $100 bond;
- Juan Jimenez, 39, 150 East Morocco Rd., Temperance. Released on $100 bond;
- Antonio Marin -- no information through Toledo Municipal Court;
- Luis Marin, 29, 506 Cameron Ave., Pontiac, Mich. He was released on $1,000 bond;
- Carlos Ochoa, 46, 248 Graham St. Released on a $100 bond;
- William Sanchez, 76, 526 Spring St. Released on $100 bond;
- Carlos Sepulveda, 31, 1414 Noble St. No bond set.
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