San Diego County has tentatively passed a new COUNTY WIDE (this means it affects even unincorporated areas of San Diego such as Valley Center, Fallbrook and Ramona) ordinance limiting the number or roosters residents are allowed to keep. I've been fighting the ordinance ever since I found out about it passing at a San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting on August 2nd. I've received a lot of questions from people who aren't involved in raising chickens who don't understand why I'm fighting the ordinance since it's aimed at "curbing cockfighting".
The problem with the ordinance is that it doesn't solely affect cock fighters. It affects rescues such as myself, breeders who are trying to preserve rare and endangered breeds and people who raise birds for their own consumption.
Here are some answers to the questions I've received lately:
Why would anyone who's not a cockfighter have more than one rooster?
There are a lot of reasons why someone who would have more than one rooster. When someone buys chicks from a feed store, a breeder or even a hatchery there is NO WAY to tell if the chicks will grow up to be roosters or hens. So let's say you get 4 chicks from the feed store, you grow them up and fall in love with them when all of a sudden you notice 2 out of the 4 chicks are crowing. Most people will keep both roosters simply because they have raised them since they were babies and have an emotional attachment to them.
People who show their birds, have to have multiple roosters since roosters are typically what are entered into shows not hens and you need multiple in case one accidentally gets sick or has an accident. If you're breeding birds, you HAVE to have more than one rooster otherwise you run the risk of turning out inbred chickens. Also, most people who raise fancy chickens (ie silkies, polish, seramas, etc.) typically raise more than one breed of chicken so in order to raise more than one breed you need at least one rooster for each breed. I, for example, breed Old English Game Bantams that are no bigger than a gallon of milk and I also breed Silkie Bantams which are also on the smaller side and are super fluffy. Because I live on under half an acre of land I'll have to decide which breed I want to keep.
I'm also a chicken/rooster rescue. I don't always have only roosters but roosters are predominately what comes from shelters since they're harder to place than hens. This means I can have anywhere from 3-7 roosters from shelters at a time.
There are also people who still raise roosters for personal consumption. Most people don't eat hens since they lay eggs and prefer to eat the roosters. The ordinance defines a rooster as any bird 6 months, adult feathered or crowing. Most people harvest roosters at 8 months of age. This means you will no longer be able to raise more than one bird for slaughter if you live on less than a half an acre.
The ordinance exemplifies 4H Groups, FFA, Commercial Poultry Ranches and Humane Organizations. Aren't you a humane organization and why isn't that good enough?
According to the ordinance, in order to qualify as a humane organization, you have to employ Humane Officers which we do not. The Escondido Humane Society doesn't even employ Humane Officers, they employ Animal Control officers so even the Escondido Humane Society may be subject to the ordinance even though they place birds as well as take in found/stray birds.
The problem I have with them exemplifying just 4H groups and FFA organizations is that most of these groups purchase their birds from ADULT BREEDERS. If there are no more adult breeders (which will happen if this ordinance goes into affect), there will be no one for these children to buy their show birds from.
Also, not all schools have 4H or FFA programs, so the kids who raise birds simply for the love of it will no longer be allowed to do so simply because they're not in 4H or FFA which is flat out discrimination.
Are you against the housing requirements and anti-tethering sections of the ordinance?
Yes and no. Yes, I'm all for the housing requirements except for the part about having to keep birds 50 feet away from ANY residences. I live on a smaller lot so although my chickens are 50ft away from my neighbors residences, they aren't 50ft from my own therefore I would be in violation and have to find somewhere else to put my birds and in my current yard there is no way for me to do that.
I'm also not against tethering rooster and let me explain why. ALL BREEDS OF ROOSTERS FIGHT therefore in order to keep roosters safe from each other but still allow them to get grass, bugs and sunshine, they MUST BE TETHERED otherwise you'll have roosters fighting even through cage non-stop. I fortunately have a wonderful set up where I have big enclosures where I can house one rooster and two hens separately however, if I ever wanted to give them time outside of their enclosures I'd have to tether them to ensure their safety.
Also, if you think tethering is cruel I highly suggest you check out the way hens are kept at egg ranches and then talk to me about tethering.
What solution do you propose to eliminate cockfighting?
I propose that the Dept of Animal Services creates a registry where legitimate hobbyists, breeders and rescues who'd like to have over the ordinance amount of roosters register, sign an agreement to allow the Dept of Animal Services to inspect their premises once a year as well as promise to never fight their birds or keep them for illegal purposes and pay a yearly fee similar to what you'd do in order to license a dog.
Most cockfighters won't want to go through the hassle of registering therefore anyone who isn't registered or hasn't registered even though they've been notified could face penalties as well as search of their property and seizure of their birds.
A similar registry has been drafted for Solano County and I have brought this idea to the attention of Dept of Animal Services however my suggestions fell on deaf ears. They did not want to amend the ordinance to incorporate the registry because they'd have to scrap the ordinance all together and start fresh which was going to take "too much time".
I think the Dept of Animal Services had wonderful intentions when they drafted this ordinance however they didn't do enough research on the impact the ordinance would have on the county. I was asked to have a meeting with the Dept of Animal Services shortly after I started the online petition, in which John Carlson the Deputy Director of the Dept of Animal Services as well as the person who drafted the ordinance FLAT OUT admitted to not contacting 4H and only spoke to a publicist for FFA. He also admitted to only talking to one commercial poultry farm in all of San Diego County. He did not contact the American Poultry Association, he did not contact the American Bantam Association, he did not contact the Dr. Francine Bradley who is the UCDavis Poultry expert and most importantly, he did not check with any legitimate hobby breeders which you can find ALL OVER craigslist.
During the meeting all the members, which included Dawn Danielson the Director of the Dept of Animal Services, Dan DeSousa who's basically the press guy for the Dept of Animal Services, Eric Sakach an animal cruelty specialist for HSUS and Randy Lawrence who's the Director of Investigations and Field Services for SD Humane and SPCA, admitted that they didn't know why anyone would have more than one rooster. They didn't know that you needed more than one rooster to prevent inbreeding, they didn't know that people still raised birds for personal consumption and they didn't realize that there were rooster rescues such as my self. Even after I educated them on all of these items, they still refused to amend the ordinance or even to come up with some sort of mutual agreement on how we can all get what we wanted.
I have not, until now, revealed the details of my meeting with the Dept of Animal Services simply because I had hoped that I wouldn't have to and that maybe they'd come to their senses and realize they're pissing off a lot of people that aren't cockfighters but unfortunately that hasn't happened. They've also gone as far as to attack me personally as well as my reputation. I will not go into details about what has been said as I do not wish to add fuel to the fire and the claims are so ridiculous and outlandish that they don't even merit explanation.
Yes, I rescue "fighting breeds" of roosters, just like I rescue "fighting breeds" of dogs. Not everything you hear about animals are true so please do yourself a favor and do some research before jumping to conclusions. I'm a firm believer that all animals deserve a chance at a good life and do my best to give that chance to as many as I can.
PLEASE DO NOT LET THE DEPT OF ANIMAL SERVICES HINDER MY ABILITY TO PROVIDE GOOD HOMES FOR ROOSTERS.
Please sign our online petition at:
Or attend the next San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13TH AT 9AM AT THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY ADMINISTRATION CENTER located at 1600 Pacific Highway San Diego and make sure to wear RED!