GOLD BAR, Wash. – Seventeen men were arrested Sunday as law enforcement raided a suspected cockfighting ring near Gold Bar in Snohomish County.
Following a nearly three-month investigation, officers moved in shortly after noon Sunday, busting a fight that was just getting underway in the 44700 block of Pine Road, said Monroe Police Department spokeswoman Debbie Willis.
"There was a lot of people and they started running," she said.
Four suspects got away, but the rest, ranging in age from 14 to 55 years old, were taken to the Snohomish County jail. The juvenile was released to his parents, but the others could face felony cockfighting charges. Officers also found money and drugs at the scene.
In all, officials found 59 roosters. Some were in the garage, where a makeshift arena for cockfighting was located, Willis said. Other roosters were found in the backyard, the house and even in cars, which were confiscated.
"We have never had this experience to actually see this," Willis said. "It's horrid."
Investigators also found small knives that were going to be attached to the roosters' feet, allowing them to inflict more injury, Willis said.
The roosters were turned over to the Humane Society of Seattle/King County.
Neighbors always suspected something unusual was happening at the house because they could hear roosters constantly making noise.
"It definitely crossed my mind because no one just raises roosters," said neighbor Jim DeGroot. "They're not good eatin', they don't lay eggs."
"I can hear roosters day and night," said neighbor Trisha Sherman. "Multiple roosters -- not just one like a normal person would have."
Sherman was happy to hear the suspected ring had been busted.
"I had my suspicions but could never prove it," she said.
Several agencies helped with the Monroe Police Department with the investigation, including the Humane Society of the United States, Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, Washington State Gambling Association, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Child Protective Services.
The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Anyone with information about animal fighting is asked to call 877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787). Tipsters’ identities will be protected.