Reward of Up to $5,000 Offered for Help in Exposing Suspected Animal-Fighting Rings

PETA Offer Comes After Discovery of Dozens of Dead Roosters and Two Injured Dogs

For Immediate Release:
April 12, 2017

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Watsonville, Calif. – Over the last few months, Santa Cruz animal control officers have discovered the decaying bodies of approximately 30 roosters off Rancho Road and nearby Shell Road in Watsonville. The animals appeared to have been used for fighting: Their combs and wattles (the fleshy skin on top of their heads and hanging from their throats) were cut, and their feet were wrapped with gauze, which is typically used to fit them with boots that hold razor blades. In addition, two young, wounded pit bulls who exhibited behavior common in “bait dogs” were found in the Interlaken neighborhood. And on Sunday, officers discovered three more dead roosters, including one with a metal tag engraved with the number 23 on the bird’s right wing.

These incidents come less than a year after 31 dead roosters were discovered in similar condition near Rancho Road on May 5, 2016. Officials are investigating but have yet to make any arrests in these cases, which is why PETA is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction on cruelty charges of the person or persons responsible for these crimes.

“Not only is forcing dogs and roosters to fight to the death cruel, it’s also illegal in all 50 states,” says PETA Senior Director of Cruelty Casework Stephanie Bell. “PETA is urging anyone with information about these injured dogs or mutilated, dead, and decaying birds to come forward immediately so that whoever is responsible can be held accountable.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—notes that during cockfights, deadly blades are strapped to birds’ legs and the animals are forced to fight to the death. Birds who lose the fights are often discarded, even if they’re still alive. Dogs used in fighting rings are typically kept outdoors and tethered with heavy chains 24 hours a day. To make them aggressive, people often starve, beat, and taunt them, while other animals are used as “bait.”

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Santa Cruz Animal Rescue & Control at 831-454-7200.

For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind