The 62 hens and roosters seized during a cockfighting raid were awarded to the North Texas Humane Society by a judge on Thursday morning.
The Humane Society has cared for the animals since the seizure but couldn’t make any decisions on whether to adopt the animals out or euthanize them until they were awarded full custody.
However, the animals’ owners have another five days to make a court appeal if they want to regain custody. Until then, Humane Society employees must continue to care and shelter the animals, pending a judge’s ruling.
“Unfortunately, we can’t do anything just yet,” said Shelly Meeks, the Humane Society’s assistant director and spokeswoman.
Meeks said they have found probable homes for the hens, but the outlook for the roosters doesn’t look good. The roosters likely will have to be put down because of their exposure to an aggressive environment, she said.
The birds were raised to fight one another and wouldn’t make good pets, not even on a farm, she said.
The roosters are kept in individual cages because they are more prone to fight one another.
“They were bred and raised to fight,” she said. “It will be very difficult to find a place for them.”
The birds were seized after Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted a raid on a home on Feb. 18 in Alvarado.
The raid occurred in a barn behind the residence of 54-year-old Heriberto Bobadilla.
An anonymous tip led the sheriff’s office to one of its biggest cockfighting busts in Johnson County.
JCSO Detective Steve Shaw said it was his first cockfighting case in his 13 years working in the sheriff’s office. Shaw said he’s had an eye on the property since the summer.
“We’ve received multiple calls about this property but nothing ever panned out,” he said.
Twenty-one people were detained and all but Bobadilla were released because the fight hadn’t started.
A new Texas law would have allowed charges against everyone involved in the fight. However, because it hadn’t started, investigators can’t show they were actually involved, Shaw said.
Bobadilla was arrested and charged for gambling promotion, keeping a gambling place and cockfighting. He and his common-law wife have also been charged with cruelty to livestock animals for which they had outstanding warrants.
They seized 40 roosters and 22 hens that were living in unsanitary conditions, Meeks said.
They found a cockfighting ring, animal steroids and blood-stained slashers used for cockfighting.
Deputies also confiscated several cases of alcohol and several bags of unidentified paraphernalia.
Bloody hacksaws used to cut off a rooster’s spurs were also in deputies’ possession.
Most of the roosters have had their spurs cut off so gaffs, or knives, could be attached to their feet.
Meeks said cockfighting is more common than most people know and she said the best fighting birds can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Meeks said all Humane Society workers can do is to give the animals a better life.