After 48 Chickens Saved From Cockfighting Ring, Rescue Group Looking For Foster Homes


BRONZEVILLE — A group of chicken rescue workers are looking for help after nearly 50 birds were saved from a cockfighting ring in June.

Most of the 48 birds are now living on a farm in Wisconsin after Chicago Animal Care and Control rescued them June 18 from an “alleged cockfighting ring,” said Julia Magnus, an animal advocate. But members of Magnus’ Chicago Roo Crew — which rescues chickens — needs foster and permanent homes for the remaining birds.

Melody, a game hen, and her five chicks are being fostered by Dawn Avello, a volunteer with Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary in Aurora. Two birds, Mike and Benji, received care at the Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center for extensive injuries and ailments and are in a foster home.

Another 20 birds from other rescues also need homes, Magnus said.

Credit: Chicago Roo Crew
Mike is one of two roosters receiving medical care at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center.

Many of the birds seized in the bust initially needed medical care due to open or infected wounds or sicknesses, and nearly all of them had mites and parasites, Magnus said. They showed consistent injuries with having been used for cockfighting, she said.

Chicago Animal Care and Control did not respond to a request for comment.

Medical care for the recently rescued birds has cost about $6,000.

Getting medical care for the birds has been an added expense for Chicago Roo Crew, which also has to care for its existing population of rescued birds. The group has seen an influx of birds in need as people abandon them following a pandemic adoption boom.

“Saving those lives is important to us and … it obviously comes at a significant cost,” Magnus said.

RELATED: After Pandemic Adoption Boom, People Are Ditching Their Backyard Chickens. Local Rescue Groups Are Trying To Save Them

Credit: Chicago Roo Crew
Melody, a game hen, is currently being fostered with her baby chicks, who’ve all been named after songs and sport names like “Jude” and “Tiny Dancer.”

Magnus is vetting people who’ve shown interest in fostering and giving homes to the birds, but she could use more help, she said. Those who do foster or home Mike and Benji in particular would need to be highly understanding homes, she said.

Benji will need ongoing treatment after leaving Niles Animal Hospital. Following that, he can be cleared for adoption.

Credit: Chicago Roo Crew
Benji is one of two roosters receiving medical care at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center after being rescued from an alleged cockfighting ring in late June. He needed a toe amputation and had an abscess on one of his legs.

“We will look for homes with experience handling ex-fighters, who know exactly what they’re getting into with them, who are prepared to commit to neither placing these birds around other roosters, who understand that they may be reactive for a while, … who commit to no breeding,” Magnus said.

Another complication for the animal lovers: Roo Crew and similar groups haven’t been taking in animals due to the risk of avian influenza, which can spread rapidly between birds.

The Roo Crew made an exception for the recent rescues due to the situation. The group has previously helped with rescuing dozens of roosters and hens in need from cockfighting rings.

Credit: Maia McDonald/Block Club Chicago
Julia Magnus, an animal rights lawyer and volunteer for Chicago Roo Crew as seen on July 1, 2021.

Magnus said those interested in fostering any of the birds can message the Chicago Roo Crew Facebook or send an email to chicagoroocrew@gmail.com. Others supporters can donate on GoFundMe.

People interested in helping Chicago chickens should also support other bird rescue groups, like the Chicago Chicken Rescue, and foster if they’re able to, Magnus said.

“Many people may not realize that just as with ‘conventional’ companion animals like dogs and cats, birds and particularly roosters need homes, too,” Magnus said “[They] Suffer from a stigma of not being ‘equal to’ or ‘as good as’ mammals, but this is far from true.

“If you adopt, we will support you every step of the way by helping you find the best companion for your lifestyle, whether they are a house rooster or a new flock member.”

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