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85 Chickens and Roosters Seized in Suspected Cockfighting Operation

posted on Monday, July 10, 2017 in News

UPDATE (01/17/18): ARL officials attended the plea and sentencing hearing this morning for Mariano Martinez (aka Mariano Martinez Ramirez) on the animal contest (cockfighting) case. Martinez entered an Alford Plea to count one, Animal Contest – Possess Contest Device (717D.2(6)) and the remaining 9 counts were dismissed by the prosecutor.

Under the plea agreement, the judge sentenced Martinez to 5 years in prison which was suspended, put him on probation for 2 years, and assessed a $750.00 fine, plus surcharges and probation charges.

On July 10, the birds were brought to the ARL’s Kruidenier Second Chance Ranch, where they were examined for evidence in the case and cared for by our rescue ranch team. After ownership of the birds was turned over to the ARL, each bird was individually evaluated for adoption, so we could match them with the right families as pets. The first weekend they were available, more than 30 of the birds found new homes. Eventually all the available birds were placed with new families.


Chickens being removed from propertyJuly 10, 2017 (Des Moines, Iowa) – The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) assisted the Des Moines Police (DMPD) to remove 85 chickens and roosters from a property on the East side of Des Moines.

Mariano Martinez Ramirez has been charged with Felony Animal Contest – Possession of Contest Device (animal fighting paraphernalia), Misdemeanor Types Permitted (excessive animal numbers), and Violation of Probation. The DMPD is continuing the investigation and we will continue to assist however is needed.

The birds were brought to the ARL’s Second Chance Ranch where they were examined and photographed for evidence in the case. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) were also on-site to test the birds for possible contagious disease.

Animal Control Seizing ChickensRemoved Chickens
Chicken tested for contagious disease

“Animal fighting is a horrible, vicious crime where the animals suffer greatly at the hands of those involved. Because of this, many years ago, the ARL worked with lawmakers to elevate this level of animal cruelty to a felony. Unfortunately, it remains one of the few felony charges for animal crimes in our state.” said Tom Colvin, Executive Director with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.

In an illegal cockfight, two roosters fight each other to the death while people place bets. Left to themselves, roosters rarely hurt each other badly. In cockfights, on the other hand, the birds often wear razor-sharp blades on their legs and incur injuries like punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes—when they even survive.

This is the fourth large-scale rescue the ARL has assisted authorities with so far this year and the first illegal animal fighting case in more than 7 years. Donations to support the ARL’s Cruelty Intervention program can be made at www.arl-iowa.org/donate (RE: End Cruelty).


About Animal Rescue League of Iowa
The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is Iowa’s largest non-profit animal shelter, caring for many thousands of pets each year. The ARL serves people and pets from across the state through pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training, spay/neuter, animal cruelty intervention and much more. For more information, visit ARL-Iowa.org.