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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Six-year-old child found at cock fight
Cock fight
Cock fighting is "commonplace"
The RSPCA is appealing for help to prevent cock-fighting, which it says is still commonplace in northern English cities despite being outlawed 156 years ago.

The latest plea follows the arrest of 14 men during a raid on an organised fight in a blood-stained warehouse in Lancashire.

Police and RSPCA officers found children watching the spectacle at a warehouse in Lancaster on Sunday. One was just six years old.

Acting on an anonymous tip-off, officers recovered nine dead cockerels and 13 live ones. Many people watching the fight at St. Georges Quay fled.

Why anyone would want their children to see this I do not know. It is barbaric

Ian Briggs, RSPCA
Two of the dead birds were heavily bloodstained and one had to be put down. There was an organised fight list, weighing scales and a fight pit made from straw.

RSPCA inspector Ian Briggs from the special operations unit told BBC News Online: "Why anyone would want their children to see this I do not know. It is barbaric.

"Generally it is a northern phenomenon but we have instances in the Midlands too. We also have cases of quail fighting.

Maximum sentence

"It generally happens in inner cities. Cases in Leeds, Birmingham and Bradford are quite numerous."

Cock-fighting was brought to Britain by the Romans. It was restricted and finally banned by a series of Acts of Parliament between 1833 and 1845.

The maximum sentence for participating is six months in prison.

Cock fight
The cocks wear sharp spurs
The birds involved have specially-made spurs strapped to their legs, so that they stab each other when fighting.

They are often administered steroids to make them more aggressive and trained to increase their stamina.

The spurs rip off pieces of the birds who, if they are not killed outright, can die of shock afterwards.

Those arrested in the Lancaster raid have been interviewed and released on police bail.

Mr Briggs said: "We know it is going on. Something happens every few months but it is so secretive that we rely on information."

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08 Mar 99 | UK
Cock fighting big business
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