TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas - The Austin Animal Center and Austin Pets Alive! have more than a few roosters in need of adoption after Austin police busted a suspected cockfighting ring in Travis County last month.
"They’re mutilated. It’s a really horrific sport," said Kelly Holt, Senior Program Manager for Austin Pets Alive!
After a court found the owners were engaging the birds in fighting, 43 chickens, nine hens and 34 roosters were seized. The hens and three roosters have already been adopted, but 31 remain at the Austin Animal Center.
"We’re seeing a few of them calm down already, and so I think there’s definitely hope for them," said Don Bland, Chief Animal Services Officer at the Austin Animal Center.
Still, the shelter says the sooner the roosters can be adopted, the better.
"We’re set up for cats and dogs. We’re not set up for roosters and chickens," said Bland.
Holt says an animal sanctuary would be ideal.
"That guarantees that they’ll be safe for life and also sanctuaries are really well-equipped to help these birds rehabilitate and recover," said Holt.
Ordinary people can adopt as well, but the birds will need to be re-socialized, which takes some doing.
"They’re protectors of their flock," said Holt. "If there’s somebody who just has some property, and they have a space to isolate the rooster, and they have the time and the desire to work with the rooster, that’s a perfectly great outcome as well."
There will be a screening process to make sure potential adopters don’t run afoul of the law.
"We’re going to ask for your driver’s license, and these birds are going to microchipped, so if these birds showed up in another seizure in a fighting ring, we know where it came from," said Bland.
The hope is that these once-brutalized birds will find a new, happier place in the pecking order.
"It’s really great honestly when it happens, because we give these birds another chance, and they really deserve it," said Holt.