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roosterSAN DIEGO – In an attempt to curb cockfighting, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday sought options to tighten restrictions on groups exempted from an ordinance that limits how many roosters can be kept on a property.

The ordinance had been generally effective, but problems remained with those claiming Future Farmers of America or 4H exemptions to keep roosters that might not be used for legitimate purposes, according to Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

“While the board earlier cracked down on cockfighting and related abuses, it’s apparent there’s more work to be done,” Jacob said. “It appears that there are those that are claiming ties to 4H or Future Farmers of America membership as a cover to continue raising roosters for cockfighting — and that may be occurring as we speak today.”

The ordinance allowed just one rooster on properties less than a half- acre and up to 20 on parcels of 5 acres or more in unincorporated areas.

4H and FFA projects, commercial poultry operations, schools and animal shelters were exempted.

The county’s Department of Animal Services investigated 25 reported violations of the ordinance since Jan. 1. It also received complaints about those who claimed the FFA or 4-H exemption, two of whom were confirmed as members, although they provided no details on their projects. Another voluntarily complied with the ordinance. Another person cited pleaded guilty, then complied, and a third had criminal charges filed, according to Jacob.

The board voted unanimously for staff to meet with the two organizations and report back in 120 days with ways to limit exemptions without negatively affecting legitimate FFA or 4-H projects. Restrictions could include requiring proof of membership, documentation on the nature of the project, names of participants and the number of birds involved.

Jacob said an inspection could be possible to verify exemption eligibility. County staff and officials with the two groups should also explore modifying the exemption to restrict the number of roosters allowed.

“It’s important that we close the loophole and we tighten our existing rules, while also ensuring that the 4H organizations and FFA and related groups can continue to offer legitimate poultry education programs,” Jacob said.

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