Seventy roosters found on an Earlville, Illinois property were killed on-site because "of the conditions they were in." The picture in this article shows a perfectly healthy rooster. The roosters were part of an illegal fighting and gambling operation.
I suppose I should be thankful that officials didn't do what Moore County, NC animal control officers did with 74 roosters, shooting them all in the head, painting them as vicious, dangerous animals. But I'm not. I'm tired of reading about roosters not even getting a reasonable chance at placement.
Here's the truth about roosters - they're individuals. They're smart. Once, I was trying to help place a woman's rooster because he had started to crow. She decided to use her dog training skills and clicker train the rooster not to crow. Guess what? Rooster now has a permanent home. Crowing is part-instinct, part-learned behavior. It's self-reinforcing, just like barking in dogs. Absent any other cues, a rooster can in fact learn to remain silent or, better yet, get his kicks by crowing on request/command (not at all hours or whenever the mood strikes). With proper management, this rooster won't face death and all because someone thought outside the box.
Roosters from fight-busts are not bent on world domination. Heck, many of them aren't even bent on killing all males within a 5-mile radius. Some are social, given enough space and freedom. Some are downright friendly, only fighting because of drugs, fear or desperation. Others are scrappers, quick to fight, quick to back down as well. Some will, in fact, hate other males all their lives. Some like humans, some are scared of people, others are defensive. All may initially be reactive amidst the stress of a fight-bust raid - I would hope anyone with a modicum of understanding on animal behavior gets that. Most can be trained not to kick or bite people, and some can even be taught better methods of expressing their dislike rather than fighting. I'm not trying to paint roosters as angelic beings who can co-exist with all other animals (humans included).I am trying to get us to stop thinking of them as automatons, robots with a penchant for blood, and start thinking of them as unique individuals with different temperaments and, in many cases, the ability to learn better behavior.
Sure, it's unreasonable to think seventy roosters can realistically find homes. It's hard finding homes for tiny bantam, fuzzy-feathered roosters, let alone large ones with such a sad history. I get that. But that is what we used to say about pit bulls from fight busts. It's too hard to find homes. They're too dangerous. They are genetically wired to kill. They can't get along with other animals. The reality is far different and it is tragically sad to think of the thousands of pit bulls who were never temperament tested, never given a reasonable chance at adoption or sanctuary in the past. It's also sad to think of the thousands of fight-bust roosters who have been shot, electrocuted, gassed or "humanely killed" as well. When homes or sanctuaries are available for fight-bust roosters, there should be no question as to what should happen to the bird. None.
Right now, though, we have to get shelters and authorities to even ask the question, to even open up to the possibility of placement. Few shelters are trying. These birds, who have endured so much tragedy, do not deserve to endure more at the hands of rescuers. All that I'm asking is they be given a fair, reasonable opportunity at placement. Nothing more, nothing less. It may mean the birds are still killed, but it also means not killing them the millisecond the cockfight ends and the "rescue" begins. It means some may get placed and it means setting a precedent that killing a healthy animal before they even step foot off of the fighting pit under the guise of "preventing suffering" doesn't happen anymore. If we are to be a compassionate shelter community, we can't kill rescued animals before they are even rescued.