Nearly 400 birds seized in alleged Florence  cockfighting operation


Monday, May 28, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — Police seized nearly 400 chickens and roosters from a Florence farm Thursday and Friday after the discovery of an alleged illegal cockfighting operation.

The first birds were taken by Northampton Police and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Thursday because of concerns about animal cruelty. Another batch thought to be involved in the alleged cockfighting was taken on Friday, Detective Sgt. Victor Caputo said Saturday. The birds are being held by the MSPCA, he said.

The birds were found in an area at Ravenwold Greenhouses, at 1095 Florence Road, that is rented to someone else by the owner, according to police.

Richard Adams is identified on his Facebook page as the owner of Ravenwold Greenhouses. Contacted Saturday, Adams said, “There was no fighting on the farm. It was nothing I had anything to do with … It was a rented spot they had. I cannot go into a rented spot without permission.”

Adams added, “I had nothing to do with it. It’s all up to the police and animal control and the MSCPA.” He declined further comment.

Both he and Northampton Police declined to identify who rented the property where the animals were seized. It was unclear Saturday whether any arrests had been made.

A Northampton animal control officer discovered signs of cockfighting during a barn inspection at Ravenwold Greenhouses at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Caputo said. The animal control officer noticed an unusually large number of roosters on the farm, which can be a sign of cockfighting because a farm more typically has more chickens than roosters, Caputo added.

The animal control officer also observed birds that appeared to be raised for fighting purposes, found “boxing gloves” that are placed over the sharp part of a rooster’s leg, called a spur, to minimize injury while training the birds to fight, and saw a bag of medication and needles common to cockfighting, Caputo said.

Some roosters had “intentional body modifications” to their wattles, combs and earlobes as well as sharpened spurs, according to Caputo. The wattle is the fleshy growth under a rooster’s chin, while the comb is the flesh on top of the bird’s head and the earlobes are flesh on either side of its face.

Additionally, the animal control officer observed what looked like a small fighting area with blood splatters. Police believe the space was a training area because it was not large enough for a large crowd to gather and watch a fight.

State law prohibits anyone from training animals for fighting, or promoting such events in Massachusetts.

Caputo said the investigation continues.