CORSICANA, Texas – The SPCA of Texas has been awarded custody of 239 birds seized in a Navarro County cockfighting bust.

Before Thursday’s hearing began at the Navarro County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 4 Courthouse in Corsicana, an agreement was reached between the county and district attorney, the animal owners and the SPCA of Texas.

The animal owners agreed to the findings of animal cruelty, took full responsibility of the birds and signed ownership of the birds over to the SPCA of Texas with the condition that the SPCA of Texas waive restitution.

The Navarro County Sheriff’s Department said it plans on filing criminal charges in the case.

Under the authority of the sheriff’s office, the SPCA of Texas seized 239 birds (187 live birds, 35 eggs and 17 dead birds) on Feb. 6 after a cockfight that was in progress on a property in Emmett, Texas, in Navarro County.

The roosters were brought back to a secure location, where they were cared for under armed guard until the custody hearing.

The sheriff’s office was alerted to the fight by an anonymous informant. Officials estimate that there were about 70 people on site. There were several buildings on the property and four long guns were seized as well as an unknown quantity of cash.

The sheriff’s office discovered the animals and contacted the SPCA of Texas for assistance in transporting and housing the birds. The fight was in progress when the birds were seized.

Cockfighting is a crime in all 50 states, including Texas, where it is a felony, punishable by two years in a state jail and or a $10,000 fine. It is a felony in 35 states and the District of Columbia and a misdemeanor in 15 states. Since 2002, a federal law has prohibited any interstate or foreign transport of fighting animals.

The SPCA of Texas will individually evaluate the birds for potential placement on a case-by-case basis.

To help the SPCA of Texas fund future efforts like this and to support the SPCA of Texas' other programs and services, visit www.spca.org/helptheanimals. To learn more about the SPCA of Texas, visit the Web site at http://www.spca.org/.

 The SPCA of Texas is the leading animal welfare agency in North Texas with two shelters and two spay/neuter clinics located in Dallas and McKinney, and serves as an active resource center providing an array of programs and services that bring people and animals together to enrich each others' lives.

A comprehensive animal welfare agency, the SPCA of Texas is not affiliated with any other entity and does not receive general operating funds from the city of Dallas, state of Texas, federal government or any other humane organization.