Alleged Cockfighting Ring Busted

Posted at 9:20 PM, Mar 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-15 15:38:50-04

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. –  Police in Van Buren County were tipped off about an alleged cockfighting operation around 10 p.m. Sunday.   Evidence at the scene, lead to the homeowner’s arrest.

Bobby Johnson, 32, was charged with five felony counts including animal cruelty, and receiving and concealing stolen property.

When deputies first confronted Johnson at his home, they say he showed them the hens and roosters he raises, but the deputies noticed blood and feathers in the dirt.  That’s when Johnson admitted to fighting a rooster earlier that night.

After getting a search warrant, investigators reportedly found 18 dead roosters with wounds consistent with cockfighting, a ring for the alleged matches, and $5,000 in cash.  In another shed on the property, they found a stolen quad-runner and a mini bike.

Johnson was arrested and taken to Van Buren County Jail, he was arraigned Monday.

Deputies say they haven’t had a cockfighting case in several years, but some neighbors say it’s pretty common.

“I don’t agree with it, but around here, I think it’s become a past time.”

Sue Harris, who breeds egg-laying chickens, says she’s not the one who made the anonymous call to police, but she always had suspicions about some of the neighborhood roosters.

“Most fighting birds a long and tall and very stringy,” adding that fighting roosters can be three feet tall, are vicious from the moment they hatch, and need to be separated from other birds because, often times, their only purpose is to fight and kill.

“If you breed an animal that’s mean and you keep breeding … the meanest animals out of the next batch, you continue to get a meaner animal.”

A mean bird, with a deadly spur on each foot, used to scratch and gouge, is sometimes not enough.

“Some (owners) will put metal spurs on (the birds) so that they do more damage … and they probably can kill (their opponent) faster,” Harris explains.

While the details of this particular fighting ring are unknown at this time, Johnson was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and two counts of receiving and concealing stolen property; all five year felonies.  His bond was set at $20,000 and he’s scheduled to be back in court on March 12.