Tucson Citizen
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

24 fighting cocks taken from SE Side residence

The birds, believed to be from Mexico, will be tested for avian flu.

Citizen Staff Report

Authorities are looking for tips to the identities of people they believe were running cockfights at a home on East Old Vail Connection Road.

Pima County deputies took 24 fighting cocks from the home Friday, along with metal spurs worn by the birds. No one has claimed the birds.

The animals are at the Pima Animal Care Center. Because they are believed to be from Mexico, they are in medical quarantine to be tested for avian flu, a virus that can wipe out poultry farms, and exotic Newcastle disease, which is caused by a virus and is characterized by pneumonia.

Neighbors complained to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, but when deputies arrived at the home, in the 2800 block of East Old Vail Connection Road, near the intersection South Old Nogales Highway and East Hughes Access Road, with a search warrant, no one was there.

Investigators asked that anyone with information call 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line run by the Pima County Attorney's Office.

Arizonans voted to make cockfighting illegal in 1997. Organizing a cockfight is a felony, and watching one is a misdemeanor.

The Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona said the birds are believed to have been brought into the United States illegally from Mexico.

No arrests have been made, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.