A Tale Worthy of Hitchcock
A righteous Angry Bird: Rooster kills a cockfighting trainer
The birds are angry, and not just the ones on your iPhone.
In the world of underground cock fighting you’d imagine the biggest risks would be losing a fortune or getting in trouble with the law. Never would murder by rooster cross your mind. But Hitchcock’s frightening tale of attacking birds has come to life.
A California man attending a cockfight died after being stabbed in the leg by a rooster with a razor-sharp knife attached to its own limb.
The Kern County coroner says 35-year-old Jose Luis Ochoa was declared dead at a hospital about two hours after he suffered the stab in neighboring Tulare County on Jan. 30. An autopsy concluded Ochoa died of an accidental “sharp force injury” to his right calf.
Ochoa and the other spectators fled when authorities arrived at the scene of the fight, Sgt. Martin King told the newspaper. Deputies found five dead roosters and other evidence of cockfighting at the location, he said. No arrests were made at the cockfight.
“I have never seen this type of incident,” King, a 24-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, told the Bakersfield Californian.
Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt says it’s unclear if a delay in seeking medical attention contributed to Ochoa’s death.
It’s possible that Ochoa avoided the hospital because he feared a felony. According to Kern County Superior Court records, Ochoa paid $370 in fines last year after pleading no contest to one count of owning or training an animal for fighting. Although attending/organizing a cockfight or training an animal to participate in one are just misdemeanors under California law, a second offense is a felony.
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, with 33 states classifying it as a felony. Attending a cockfight is illegal in 40 states, and animal rights groups campaign to outlaw it in nationwide.
Defendants of the gruesome pastime sometimes cite tradition as a defense. Cockfighting was a pastime in the Indus Valley Civilization by 2000 BC. The sport reached a large audience in ancient times in India, China, Persia and other Eastern countries and became popular in Greece in the time of Themistocles (c. 524–460 BC). The Romans originally despised what they deemed a "Greek diversion," but ended up accepting it so enthusiastically that the agricultural writer Columella (1st century AD) complained that its devotees rarely left the side of the fighting pit.
Whether the bird’s attack on Ochoa was the accidental slashing of a flustered bird or an outburst of vengeance, it should serve as a warning to all who partake in cockfighting.