Download Flash Player to view this content.

News of an alleged cockfighting ring near Windsor, Ont., has shocked and disgusted many animal lovers in the southwestern Ontario city.

Two men, Justin Irvine and Scott Hamilton, both aged 30 and from Tecumseh, Ont., have been charged under the recently fortified Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

It's believed to be the first time cockfighting charges have been laid under the act, amended in 2009.

Cockfighting is when roosters, trained to fight to the death, are placed in a confined ring, sometimes with knives strapped to their legs, and people place bets on which bird will die.

'You're hurting animals and that's not what we do'

The practice disgusts those who work with roosters in their natural environment and say the bird's instinct is to run away from a fight.

'It's a blood sport and these birds usually fight to the death and if they don't die then obviously they're severely injured.' —Nancy McCabe, Windsor-Essex County Humane Society

"You're hurting the animals and that's not what we do," said Joseph Gagnon, owner and chief bird keeper at the Lazee G Ranch.

"We don't hurt the animals. You treat them the way you'd want to be treated."

Gagnon said roosters do argue who's king of the roost, but not in the way cockfighting trains them to.

"He just bossed him over there because he wanted to eat, but he said no," said Gagnon, describing the behaviour of his roosters.

"So he's number one, this one accepts it, so then there's no fight.  That's basically how it works in the chicken world."

Suture kits, antibiotics found

The 11 roosters seized during the May raid on the property had to be euthanized because they were so aggressive they could never be tamed, said Nancy McCabe from the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society.


Roosters used in cockfighting, like these shown here in April, are trained to fight to the death. ((Sergey Ponomarev/ Associated Press))

 She said in her 30 years on the job, she has never seen anything like this.

"I did some watching of the videos of cockfighting, and it's extremely upsetting," said McCabe.

"It's a blood sport and these birds usually fight to the death and if they don't die then obviously they're severely injured."

McCabe said officials from the OSPCA also found suture kits, antibiotics, and syringes at the residence.

McCabe said the alleged cockfighting operation was discovered at the Tecumseh residence after another agency, she wouldn't say which one, executed a search warrant, then notified the OSPCA of what it had seen.