All the birds confiscated in a Cass County cockfighting raid last month will soon have homes or have been euthanized, an official with the Nebraska Humane Society said Sunday.
“We did euthanize a portion of the birds,” said Mark Langan, vice president of field operations for the Humane Society. The rest went to or will go to groups or individuals the Humane Society is familiar with.
Langan declined to say how many of the 141 roosters, 39 hens and six chicks confiscated in the Nov. 24 raid on a farm near Louisville were euthanized. Generally, cockfighting roosters are eventually euthanized because they have been bred and taught to attack.
A ruling by Cass County District Judge John F. Steinheider last week allowed for the disposition of the birds. The judge, responding to an application by Cass County Attorney Colin Palm, determined Wednesday that authorities were unable to identify the owner of the 186 confiscated birds.
“Based on the evidence received, probable cause exists that the chickens have been abandoned or cruelly neglected or mistreated and said chickens are hereby forfeited to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office for appropriate disposition or adoption, donation to a suitable shelter, or humane destruction, as deemed appropriate through consultation with the Nebraska Humane Society,” Steinheider wrote in his decision.
The Humane Society had agreed to house the chickens for Cass County at a price of $1 per day, per bird, according to the court filing. The filing said deputies were told by Marvin Vogler, the late co-owner of the farm, that a person named “Walter” was the caretaker of the chickens and visited the property “five to seven times per week.”
In a follow-up contact on Nov. 28, Vogler told an investigator that “he has not seen or heard from Walter” since the day of the raid. Deputies were not provided a last name, an address, a phone number or other contact information for “Walter.”
The filing by the Cass County attorney was made four days after the raid and asked for a hearing as soon as possible because “the costs associated with the current placement of the animals continues to grow.”
Langan said he didn’t have a full accounting of the shelter’s expenses for the investigation.
“You can do the math from Nov. 24th to Dec. 5th,” Langan said. “What I do know is that all the evidence has been documented through our veterinarians and photographs.”
At $1 per day, per bird, the county potentially could be billed $2,232.
On Nov. 24, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol and Humane Society raided the property and arrested 32 people at a cockfight. Palm said 30 men and two women were charged with viewing cockfighting, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
Bail was set for all 32 defendants, and many of them have been released from jail. The cockfight remains under investigation and Vogler, who has since died, was a person of interest in that investigation, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Vogler’s body was found Dec. 4 in a field south of his home. He had been reported missing by his family the previous day. Sheriff William C. Brueggemann said an autopsy has been ordered.
“We’re still in the prosecution stage,” Langan said. “We’re also receiving tips with regards to cockfighting in the area.” Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP. They will remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward.