Twenty-seven roosters who were rescued out of cockfighting, now need urgent placement at sanctuaries or approved homes. If they are not placed, they may be euthanized as soon as early next week.
These roosters were rescued out of a cockfighting bust on November 10, in which the Austin Police Department Animal Cruelty Unit seized 43 animals (9 hens and 34 roosters). After the court case, the animals were removed from the owners. The hens and two roosters were quickly adopted, leaving 32 roosters remaining at Austin Animal Center (AAC).
AAC notified Austin Pets Alive! recently that they would like assistance placing these roosters with sanctuaries or in homes, given APA!’s success in saving the lives of animals who would be euthanized in nearly any other shelter. We did not hesitate to say yes, but time is of the essence.
APA! has assisted with finding sanctuaries for some of the roosters already. Today there are approximately 27 birds still in the city shelter.
These are animals who were saved out of unimaginable cruelty. "These roosters did not get a happy start to life," says Austin Pets Alive!'s senior program manager Kelly Holt. "Cockfighting is a brutal, illegal sport. We want to help give these roosters a second chance at life, because it's the right thing to do."
We don't know the history of every individual rooster, but there are clues about what each bird has experienced. Some still have their combs and wattles—the fleshy skin on top of their head, and below their beak—and their spurs, which are horn-like leg growths the animals use to protect themselves. These are likely the younger roosters, who haven't yet been forced to fight.
They may have an easier time learning to trust humans and integrating into flocks, than the older birds. "The ones who have their combs and wattles removed or spurs cut are likely ones who have fought or been trained to fight. They will take more patience and time," Kelly says.
APA! can offer support and guidance for any potential adopters and interested sanctuaries about training, rehabilitation, and care. Kelly recommends, to start, that anyone adopting one of the rescued roosters to "give them a space to decompress and feel safe." The roosters can be introduced to a flock of hens, and may even be able to integrate with them right away, though others may take more time.
What is certain is that these animals, saved from a cruelty they never should have had to endure, should not now be killed simply for lack of having a safe place to stay. But time is running out.
APA! knows that the remaining roosters likely have a few days before "quality of life" decisions will be made. If you know of a sanctuary, or person who could undergo screening from a sanctuary, interested in adopting these roosters, please email [email protected].
"It's a challenge finding these roosters safe homes, and it would be easy to shrug our shoulders," Kelly says. "But I love working for an animal welfare nonprofit willing to step up and champion the lives of animals who need our help the most."