RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team disrupts illegal animal fighting ring
RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team concluded its third large-scale law enforcement operation in less than a month on Friday, 14th April, when RSPCA Inspectors searched a property in the Melton City Council area. Inspectors from RSPCA Victoria took the surrender of over 200 roosters allegedly owned for the specific purpose of illegal cockfighting in Victoria.
RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team received a confidential tip-off from a member of the community last week about an expected cockfighting event at the property. Cockfighting is an illegal practice in Victoria under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA). The warrant was executed on Friday morning as part of the investigation into the suspected cockfighting ring.
The large-scale investigation involves multiple persons of interest. Many of the roosters were found in confined conditions and did not have access to water. While they were found to be living in unsanitary conditions and in poor overall health, they also had been allegedly mutilated in a method consistent with the purpose of cockfighting. Multiple RSPCA Victoria staff were involved in assessing the birds including six RSPCA Inspectors and two veterinarians.
“Cockfighting is an abhorrent and inherently cruel activity that leads to the severe suffering of the roosters used in this bloodsport,” says Lisa Calleja, RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate Team Leader – Major Investigations on Friday. “The roosters at this location were highly aggressive, and many were kept in cages without access to food or water.”
“This investigation was initiated in response to a tip-off from the community that resulted in the execution of a search warrant under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 on Friday morning. The results from today represent a significant disruption to an alleged illegal animal fighting ring. Our investigations from today are ongoing, and we will continue to identify, pursue and prosecute people who breach animal welfare laws in Victoria and whose actions cause harm or suffering to animals.
“RSPCA Victoria is the only non-government organisation with the power to enforce the law in Victoria. Our ultimate objective is to end animal cruelty, and we continue to work toward that vision.”
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, it is an offence to wound, mutilate, torture, abuse, beat, worry, torment or terrify an animal. It is also an offence for a person to keep, use or assist in the management of premises for the purpose of causing an animal to fight or for the baiting or maltreating of an animal. Offences under the act carry a penalty of up to 500 penalty units equating to $92,460 or imprisonment for 2 years.
All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via https://rspcavic.org/tip-off-form or by calling 9224 2222. Facebook messages and emails through unofficial channels do not constitute an official cruelty report.