By Connor Lynch and Patrick Meagher
MOOSE CREEK — You can imagine police sneaking right up on them as the feathers flew. Eleven men gathered for a little Saturday morning fun — to cheer on two roosters slashing and pecking each other to the death.
OPP officers barged in on a live cockfight held in what looked more like a shed than a barn in North Stormont, just south of Moose Creek, on April 9, arresting 11 men standing around a mini-cockpit arena on Tolmies Corners Road. Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officers were called to round up several roosters that, by law, must be euthanized. Police emptied the shed, confiscating all evidence, including cages.
“When we arrived it was a live event. It was ongoing,” said Glengarry OPP Const. Joel Doiron, who added that he had never heard of cockfighting in the 25 years he has worked as a police officer in Eastern Ontario. “That was the first time I wrote a media release of that kind.”
He said there were an “ample” number of police officers on the scene. The men arrested “were passive and non-resistant.” He also noted that the birds had “metal talons” attached to their legs. In cockfighting, the talons, metal spurs or metal hooks, are often attached to the natural spurs on the back of the legs. The spurs inflict more damage. In this bloodsport, the birds often fight to the death as the winning bird will often peck the head of the downer bird until it stops moving.
A neighbour said she had “no idea” that cockfighting was going on just down the road and asked that she not be identified because if it’s “organized crime . . . or just a bunch of country yahoos, you don’t want to p— them off.”
She added that the laneway to the secluded shed had not been plowed all winter.
Another neighbour said he “hadn’t heard so much as a peep” before the police raid. “I didn’t even know it happened in Canada. I thought it was just in the U.S. and Asia.”
Gerald Tessier, an 82-year-old South Stormont man, admitted to keeping roosters for fighting at his Tolmies Corners Road property and told the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder in a phone interview that cockfighting was “a hobby.” He declined to comment when called by Farmers Forum.
Tessier was charged with keeping a cockpit, causing damage to a bird, and cruelty to animals. He and the 10 others charged will appear in Ontario court in Cornwall on June 21.
The 10 other men were charged with causing injury to a bird by failing to provide food, water, or shelter, and animal cruelty for aiding in fighting or baiting birds.
The 10 men charged are: 61-year-old Ronald Bell and 55-year-old Norman Redick, of Plympton-Wyoming, Ontario; 44-year-old Philip Patenaude and 56-year-old Gerard Delorme of North Stormont; 62-year-old Richard Patenaude and 69-year-old Eric Thompson of North Dundas; 55-year-old Hector Racuya and 57-year-old Arturo Sumayo of Montreal; 69-year-old Richard McCormick of York; and 87-year-old Thomas Carter of London.
It’s not the first time a cockfighting operation has been discovered in Ontario. In 2009, the Toronto Star reported on a police raid of a cockfighting operation north of Toronto, where 70 people were arrested and charged. Police seized 74 birds.
Police seized 198 roosters from a cockfighting operation in Northumberland County in 2007.
Cockfighting, while rare in Canada, is not uncommon in some areas of California where Filipino and Mexican communities don’t see the activity as illegal.
Cockfighting is legal in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana.