March 16, 2016
The Pennsylvania SPCA announced felony charges Wednesday against a Kensington man accused of running a cockfighting operation.
After a preliminary hearing, officials charged Juan Reyes with 14 felony counts of animal fighting and six misdemeanor counts of possession of animal fighting paraphernalia. The misdemeanor charges mark the first time the PSPCA has applied the new paraphernalia bill – passed last July – that outlaws ownership of any device, implement, object or drug used directly for animal fighting or to train animals to fight.
Officials became aware of the possible cockfighting operation while investigating an unrelated case near Reyes' property on the 2800 block of North Lee Street. On March 1, after obtaining a search warrant, PSPCA Humane Law Enforcement officers seized a total of 36 birds, including fighting roosters and hens, in addition to animal fighting paraphernalia.
All of the birds seized were transported to the PSPCA's Erie Avenue Headquarters to be evaluated by the organization's forensic veterinary team. Those that could be rehabilitated were sent to rescues.
“The Pennsylvania SPCA is the only animal welfare organization in the region equipped to handle large, complex cases of animal fighting like this,” said Jerry Buckley, CEO of the PSPCA. “Animal fighting is a brutal crime, and we hope through the prosecution of cases like this, we can deter future offenders from participating. We are grateful for the new paraphernalia legislation, which is important in identifying those who are performing acts of animal cruelty, or intend to. We look forward to adjudicating this case and getting justice for all the animals involved.”
Anyone with information about this case, or other cases involving animal cruelty, is asked to call the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Cruelty Hotline at (866) 601-SPCA.