Dozens of people allegedly decided to violate the shelter-in-place order banning large gatherings amid COVID-19 by participating in an illegal cockfighting event at a rural property in unincorporated Pleasanton on Saturday evening.
Multiple law enforcement agencies broke up the party and rescued hundreds of adult and baby chickens from the parcel on Dublin Canyon Road, but the majority of the people at the event fled as deputies and officers closed in, according to Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly.
Sheriff's detectives are working to identify the people responsible for organizing the illicit operation.
The investigation began at about 6:20 p.m. Saturday when authorities received a report that 50 to 60 people were taking part in a party centered on cockfighting inside an outbuilding at a rural property on the 10500 block of Dublin Canyon Road in Pleasanton, according to Kelly.
With sheriff's patrol units en route, an Oakland Police Department helicopter flew over the parcel and noticed a large number of parked vehicles and people, Kelly said. California Highway Patrol and Dublin Police Services units responded to assist deputies.
Upon spotting law enforcement, approximately 20 people ran away from the gathering into the wooded area that surrounded the property, Kelly said.
"Arriving officers were able to detain several subjects who admitted they were at the location for the bird fighting. We are still working to determine the suspects and responsible individuals involved in the organization of the event," Kelly said.
Law enforcement searched the property and found a total of approximately 600 roosters, hens and chicks, plus 200 incubating eggs, according to Kelly.
"All of the birds have been seized by the Sheriff’s Office and are safe. They will be cared for and treated for any illness or injury," the sergeant said.
Deputies also found paraphernalia and other evidence associated with cockfighting, Kelly said. Detectives were called to the scene to launch an animal cruelty and cockfighting investigation -- which remains ongoing.
Anyone with information about the case can contact the sheriff's office at 510-667-3600.