Dozens of animals seized in cockfighting bust in Chatham County

Local News

NEW HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Dozens of animals — many sick or injured — were seized after deputies discovered a cockfighting operation in Chatham County last week.

Deputies discovered the operation at a home on Old U.S. 1 Highway in New Hill on Sunday, February 23.

The two property owners, Margarita Juarez and Jesus Ibarra, face charges, including felony cockfighting and misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Alesja Daehnrich told CBS 17.

Daehnrich and her husband run Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary in Durham County, helping all kinds of animals, including about half a dozen roosters.

They work with shelters and law enforcement taking in animals, some seized in situations similar to the cockfighting bust.

“No animal should ever suffer,” Daehnrich said. “It’s no fun to watch animals fight. They get injured severely, some of them die. Others just lead miserable lives.”

She said cockfighting is not rare, and when found, animals often face a long road to recovery.

“It takes a very long time for the animals to settle in, and not to have to perform, or make money for somebody,” she said. “They are in horrific shape. They’re severely injured, not only physically, but also mentally. It takes a very long time for these animals to recover and to trust people again.”

She hopes to see more crackdowns on cockfighting.

“Cockfighting is absolutely unacceptable,” she said. “It’s animal cruelty.”

Chatham County deputies worked with groups, including Guilford County Animal Control, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and several veterinarians from N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine, to help the animals.

Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson said all animals connected to the case are considered evidence, and not available for adoption at this time.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s officials said additional charges are expected as the investigation continues.

Both Ibarra and Juarez are due in court later in March.

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