Chicago Roo Crew, a small, fully-volunteer group dedicated to saving abused chickens, rescued around 50 chickens in a suspected underground cockfighting ring in Chicago, Illinois. Julia Magnus, an attorney and animal rights advocate with Chicago Roo Crew, said, Seven were in dire need of veterinary intervention due to multiple open wounds that were infected. Multiple were sick, they were all traumatized, (and) they were all screaming. It was horrifying.”
Chicago Roo Crew has stated that this latest cockfighting bust is the third one that the group has done in Chicago since 2019. Cockfighting is outlawed in the state of Illinois, as well as the other 49 states and in U.S. territories.
“It’s (cockfighting) prevalent in spite of the fact that in the United States, in all of its territories, it’s banned,” said Magnus. “These birds are not valued as individuals with feelings, with sentience. They’re just seen as commodities for use to be tossed aside.”
Most of the birds are currently living on a farm in Wisconsin after Chicago Animal Care and Control aided in rescuing them. Chicago Roo Crew has stated that they need foster and permanent homes for the remaining birds. Additionally, the group stated that another 20 birds from other rescues are also looking for homes.
Medical care for the birds has been an added expense for the Chicago Roo Crew as the group also has to care for its current population of rescued birds. The group has also seen an influx of birds in need of aid and care as people abandoned the birds following a pandemic adoption boom. Medical care for the recently rescued birds has about USD 6,000. “Saving those lives is important to us and … it obviously comes at a significant cost,” Magnus said.
Currently, Magnus is vetting people who have shown interest in fostering and permanently homing the birds. “We will look for homes with experience handling ex-fighters, who know exactly what they’re getting into with them, who are prepared to commit to neither placing these birds around other roosters, who understand that they may be reactive for a while…who commit to no breeding,” Magnus said.
The risk of avian influenza has also complicated matters. The Chicago Roo Crew and similar groups have not been taking in other birds due to the risk of the disease which can spread rapidly among the animals. The recent rescue was an exception, due to the situation of the birds being used for fighting.
“Many people may not realize that just as with ‘conventional’ companion animals like dogs and cats, birds and particularly roosters need homes, too,” Magnus said. “(They) suffer from a stigma of not being ‘equal to’ or ‘as good as’ mammals, but this is far from true. If you adopt, we will support you every step of the way by helping you find the best companion for your lifestyle, whether they be a house rooster or a new flock member.”
Magnus also stated, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s really worth it because the birds that survive those situations are amazing individuals. It’s really amazing when you work with them and you see the flipped switch in their head – that hands aren’t there to harm them, but they’re there to offer them treats. They’re there to help them, it’s pretty beautiful.”
People interested in fostering any of the birds or giving them a permanent home can contact Chicago Roo Crew directly.