Police say they may have stumbled upon cockfighting ring, but neighbor cries fowl

SEATTLE -- Seattle police said Friday they may have stumbled upon a possible cockfighting operation while investigating a burglary in the Rainier Valley.

Police said that when they responded to a call from a man whose home had been broken into, they found dozens of aggressive roosters and hens in the backyard.

The owner, Dado Casio, doesn’t speak English very well, so he didn’t want to talk to us on camera. But his neighbor had no problem defending him against allegations that he’s involved in cockfighting.

"That’s ridiculous," Ruby Lewis Becton said. "Dado has been my neighbor for 17 years, he raises the chickens or roosters or cocks, whatever you want to call them, for pets, for eggs. He’s never cockfighted ever."

Seattle police say Casio called them Thursday, after coming home and finding a burglar inside.

"Just to make sure there were no other suspects inside the house or the premises, officers searched the area," said Seattle police officer Lauren Lovanhill. "And when they got to the backyard, they found 42 domestic fowl."

Animal control confiscated the birds, and said they found many of the roosters had been altered in ways that are typically associated with cockfighting -- their combs and wattles were removed, to reduce bleeding, and spurs on their legs cut to accommodate fighting implements like knives.

"We’re still investigating the case. He hasn’t been charged with anything yet. But we are happy to take the birds out of that kind of situation."

Police aren’t sure if any cockfighting was taking place at the home. Lewis Becton says she’s never seen anything suspicious.

"We can see each other’s yard over the fence," Lewis Becton said. "It’s not like it’s secluded or there’s a barrier. I can see into his yard."

She understands if the birds have to be taken away because they’re not allowed in city limits. But she doesn’t believe her neighbor has done anything wrong.

"He’s penalized twice. They broke into his house, took whatever they took, and now he’s facing charges based on a criminal act against him.  I think the person they should be looking for is the person who burglarized his home. That’s what their focus should be on."

Seattle police say they are still investigating the burglary. And they’re working with the Seattle Animal Shelter and Washington Gambling Commission to figure out if cockfighting was going on. If so, that is a felony charge.