Cockfights go largely unreported, animal advocates claim

A recent Youtube searched revealed dozens of videos depicting cockfights in South Texas, most were uploaded after cockfighting became illegal in the state.

Thursday, masked men gunned down nearly a dozen people during a cockfight at northern Hidalgo County home.

Three people died, eight others remain hospitalized.

"It's a pretty elaborate operation, Sheriff Lupe Trevio said early Thursday night, following the shooting. It TMs probably not one of the biggest we've seen, but it ranks up there as being fairly elaborate."

Sheriff Trevio added that the people living at the home had plenty of experience organizing cockfights. That night, deputies seized about 80 roosters. A number of them ended up at Palm Valley Animal Shelter in McAllen, according to Brenda Torres, the shelter TMs director of humane education.

"Some of them are bleeding, they will have eyes popped out, broken limbs," she said, describing the condition many of the roosters arrive at the shelter.

Torres said that in her time at the shelter, she has seen her share of abused birds, on average, four to six major cockfighting busts every year.

But she added that she knows the reports of animal abuse they do see, cannot compare to those that go unreported.

"People need to be the voices for these animals that can't help themselves," she added.

Sheriff Trevio said speaking out could have saved lives in Thursday's shooting.

Though neighbors were aware of the cockfights, no one reported it until it was too late.

Under a new law passed in the past legislative session, it is illegal view cockfights, or own roosters with the purpose of having them fight.

On Friday, the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office charged Heriberto Leandro, 51, his wife Leticia Leandro, 52, and his business partner Humberto Blanco, 37 for the cockfight.

The eight people recovering in the hospital will also face misdemeanor charges once they recover.