News 8 got our first look at nearly four dozen roosters and hens that were seized from an apparent cockfighting ring this week.
An alleged cockfighting bust in La Crosse County is leaving humane officials scrambling.
The La Crosse County Sheriff's Department and animal control seized 43 birds from two properties in the La Crosse area earlier this week.
It's been a busy couple of days for La Crosse County Humane Officer Amiie Gabrilska.
“The past couple of days, we've been scrambling to try and find housing for 43 individual birds, make sure that they have the proper food, nutrition and that we're able to keep them clean and less stressed,” said Gabrilska.
A total of 35 roosters and eight hens are now being cared for in an undisclosed location.
The discovery was made after the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous letter to investigate two men.
That letter stated, “These two were raising [roosters to fight for money.]”
It also said, “This issue [has gone on] for more than 10 years now. This is a problem for our community and it's time to take action now.”
That's when one of the men was arrested.
“It is very sad and it is very heartbreaking,” said Gabrilska. “You think about all the loss and the suffering that has been for these birds. They were in pretty miserable conditions. You have birds with huge amounts of feather loss, wounds, weeping sores, some eye difficulties and some respiratory issues.”
The men told investigators they were raising the chickens as a hobby and they belonged to one of their fathers who recently passed away.
One of the men, Nhia Vang, from the town of Holland, is now facing charges of keeping and training the animals for fighting.
As for the chickens, Gabrilska said the hard part may be yet to come.
“It’s difficult to find a placement for them,” said Gabrilska. “This is a breed of rooster that is a gamecock. They're made for fighting, that's what they do. It isn’t like a fancy rooster, or a rooster for an egg-laying operation. They have the spirit to fight until the death.”
News 8 also spoke to some of Vang's neighbors.
They said they knew he was raising some chickens, but didn't know anything about training them to fight for money.
Animal control is still waiting on official court orders to determine the next step for the chickens.
Vang was released on a $1,000 signature bond and is scheduled back in court later this month.