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Bird Sanctuary Raises Concerns About Proposed Rooster Limits

Proposed ordinance targeting cockfighting ruffles feathers at sanctuary that helps abandoned roosters

Up to 10% of sexed “female” chicks end up growing into roosters. Undesirable to many backyard chicken owners, these roosters are often abandoned in parks or on the roadside. PHOTO: ISABELLA BACKMAN

The air is filled with clucking and cawing. As I type notes at the little picnic table in the middle of the property, a goose sits behind me. Occasionally, he nudges me with his large, orange beak to remind me of his presence.

In the driveway, a peacock wanders around the parked cars. To my left, a handful of hens and a rooster rummage in a plastic kiddie pool full of lettuce, happily pecking at the green scraps.

Ariana Huemer sits across from me. For 17 years, she worked at the Humane Society of the United States. Now, she is the director of Hen Harbor, a nonprofit sanctuary with a goal of recasting chickens as companion animals and finding homes for the birds it cares for. She tells me over the gobbles of a persistent turkey that she finds hands-on rescue much more fulfilling than her previous policy work, which was often frustratingly slow. 

While Huemer cares for a variety of birds, among the most vulnerable animals she works with are roosters. During chick-buying season, which begins in early spring, she says that a representative at the Watsonville Tractor Supply told her the store sells as many as 300 chicks a day. However, while buyers assume that they are bringing home egg-laying hens, approximately 10% of the chicks end up growing into roosters.

“Feed stores and hatcheries do not divulge the extreme likelihood that purchasers will be getting a misgendered rooster—or two—in the mix,” Huemer says.

Shortly after my visit to Hen Harbor, I call the Tractor Supply in Watsonville. The store sells a lot of chicks each day, an employee confirms, but not as high as 300. When I ask for a more accurate estimate, the employee states that she won’t discuss sales over the phone and promptly hangs up.

As a result of the inaccurate chick sexing, Huemer says that she receives around six emails a week requesting that the sanctuary take in roosters. By August, that skyrockets to multiple requests every day during what she calls “rooster-dumping season.” Before taking in a rooster, Huemer first tries to work with backyard chicken owners over the phone and troubleshoot any unwanted rooster behavior, such as noisiness or aggression. Due to limited space at the sanctuary, she prefers to only take in the birds as a last resort.

For every email she receives, Huemer says that there are many others who simply abandon their rooster. A significant number of roosters at her sanctuary were found after being left on the side of the road or in a local park. Others were simply tossed directly over Huemer’s fence.

Restricting the Rooster

Now, a proposed ordinance for Santa Cruz County makes Huemer fearful that she will have to shut down her operations. Currently, the county only permits roosters in residential agricultural zones. The ordinance, designed to deter cockfighting, will limit the number of roosters allowed in these zones. The ordinance would restrict a property between one to five acres, for example, to six roosters. 

“We get more than six requests a day to rescue roosters during peak rooster-dumping season, so where are all of those roosters going to go?” Huemer says. “The community will have no place to take the many ‘oops’ roosters that they buy or breed every spring.”

Huemer worries that the ordinance will lead to the abandonment of more roosters in parks or on roadsides. Alternatively, they may be dropped off at the animal shelter, which euthanizes nearly all of the roosters it receives.

Her website, santacruzroosters.com, urges Santa Cruz residents to take action and provides a sample letter to send to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, who will vote on the ordinance in the fall. 

However, Todd Stosuy, field services manager for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, says the main objective of the ordinance is to help put a stop to cockfighting operations. Stosuy has been working for the county for 18 years and can name quite a number of locations where he believes cockfighting birds are being bred. However, he cannot shut down these operations without providing proof such as paraphernalia or training implements.

“I can’t do anything about [these breeding locations] right now,” he explains. “The cockfighters are smart enough not to have those items where they are raising their cockfighting birds.”

Some of the locations in the county have as many as 400 or 500 roosters locked in individual cages. The treatment of these birds, he says, is “heinous and barbaric.” Their combs and wattles are sawed off, often without anesthetic, to reduce bleeding during the fights. Because cockfighters can argue that this is done for aesthetic purposes for shows, he cannot use cut-off combs and wattles as evidence to prosecute cockfighters. 

Stosuy says that this ordinance isn’t intended for targeting sanctuaries like Huemer’s.

“If [Huemer] has 15 roosters up there, we’re not coming for her,” he says. 

He adds that it is his understanding that Hen Harbor isn’t currently in a residential agriculture zone, so it is already not supposed to have roosters. He says that the Santa Cruz Planning Department has already issued her tickets for keeping roosters.

“Animal control, because they are so misinformed, called Zoning to come out here and give me a citation,” Huemer laments. “There’s a very contentious relationship between me and animal control.”

Hen Harbor is indeed in a residential agricultural zone, and the citation was dismissed. 

‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’

When Tor Audun realized some of his chicks grew into roosters, he tried to keep them.

Audun lives in a zone that doesn’t permit roosters, so he purchased rooster collars designed to suppress the crowing. When the collars failed, his neighbors complained, and he ended up with a letter from the county requiring that he get rid of his birds. Audun says he did not realize the high risk of buying a misgendered rooster when he purchased the chicks, but that he is grateful that Huemer “opened her arms” to taking them in.

“You don’t want to go through that sort of heartache,” he says. “I certainly didn’t want to euthanize them.”

Audun says he now buys pullets, or young hens that have grown past their cute, tiny chick phase, to avoid accidentally purchasing further “oops” roosters.

Shortly after my visit to Hen Harbor, Huemer forwards me one of the many emails she has received inquiring about rehoming roosters.

“I paid a local ‘concierge’ hatchery big money for sexed female chicks. I ended up with four roosters,” it reads. “I wish to keep them, but they aren’t allowed in our zone.”

Even without the new restrictions, Huemer still doesn’t have the capacity to take in every chick that turns out to be a rooster. She explains that Santa Cruz residents can help deter rooster overpopulation by adopting adult hens rather than purchasing from hatcheries. Not only does this reduce the number of “oops” roosters down the line, but it also withdraws support from an “inherently cruel” industry, she says. Male chicks are usually killed on the spot, and many chicks don’t survive the shipment process.

“‘Adopt, don’t shop’ applies to all animals, not just dogs and cats,” Huemer says. “Adopt a hen!”


40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Greg Lehr

    May 5, 2021 at 10:42 am

    cockfighting is already illegal. It seems like this law is just to regulate roosters in general. There’s no way to control whether a chick is born male or female, and there’s nowhere for roosters to go. I’m glad that there are organizations like hen harbor to take care of them, but it’s sad that roosters aren’t allowed in most places. While they’re still banned from so many places, it’s important that they aren’t limited where they are allowed. Add stricter punishment to cockfighting, because the people who are cockfighting aren’t going to follow this law anyway.

  2. Alyson

    May 3, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Yes cockfighting is cruel and terrible but so is creating animals and then not allowing them to live anywhere. Roosters crow at the same decible range as a dog, and they can be just as sweet and cuddly. The biggest problem here is the breeders that carelessly breed these animals without considering that they will most likely be killed either by being left for a predator or euthanized at a shelter. It’s unethical to bring these animals into existence without a safe place for them to live. By all means, go after the cockfighters, but we also need to place restrictions on breeders, they’re just as responsible. And we should not be punishing people like Ariana who just want to give these sweet boys the life that they deserve. The city should be ashamed of themselves for going after her.

  3. Baylen Garces

    May 2, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    I oppose rooster restrictions. I ask the county to exempt rescue organizations from the ban.

  4. Feona

    May 1, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    Roosters are vital to a flock because they protect and keep their hens safe. Banning them is not the answer. If you think about it half of the chicks that are born are going to be male. There are many sanctuaries that are Able to care for multiple roosters in the same space and they can all get along just fine. They are like teenage boys. Sometimes they need to be put in a time out but they are lovely birds and incredibly smart.

  5. Meg

    May 1, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    Is it that the rooster has a bad reputation because of cockfighting? Just like Pitbulls have a bad reputation because of dogfighting? Either way it’s the humans behind the fighting behaviors. I raised a bachelor flock of 4 roosters and 1 hen. It took some work and educating myself on how to meet their needs and keep them all happy. I put just a little time in and there were no issues among them, no complaints from neighbors. Roosters have a right to live just like the hen, dog or human. If the places that sell chicks would offer information on how to raise roosters that can help spread awareness that they are a being that deserves to live. They are not difficult to keep and are lovable, fun and an integral part of their flock. My Harry was the last of my rooster babies and whenever we were outside with my husband and dogs he would protect us, his flock, by giving warning calls and we would always praise him and I’d hug and kiss him telling what a great protector he is and we are all safe because of him. He was very proud of his job and took it seriously. This is no different than the father/ husband protecting his partner and children.

  6. Gabriel Ashley

    May 1, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    What’s next? Banning dogs because ***holes fight them? How are roosters louder than cars or planes? The proposed ordinance only stands to hurt rescues and rooster guardians more than targeting cockfighting. It’s immoral and ignorant just like banning all bully breeds doesn’t address the issue (the people abusing them) and hurts way more friendly dogs and people. The crowing of roosters is a nostalgic reminder of easy-going days in the country and is just as welcome as songbirds chirping.

  7. Nazma Sultan

    May 1, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    The proposed ordinance is absurd. Either it should be wholeheartedly defeated, or modified to specifically target perpetrators of cockfighting. Heroes such as Ms. Heumer , should be exempt from this ordinance ,as should poultry enthusiasts. Chickens are brilliant companions, and make great guardians for flocks. They are as, if not more, intelligent and sentient than dogs. They can pick up ques from their pet-parents . People should really consider keeping them as pets, and ordinances should be passed allowing people to do this.
    Moreover, lobbyists should fight for legislation that would impose a tax on chicks sold at hatcheries to generate revenues to fund the operation of facilities such as Hen Harbor. Hen harbor is an asset to the community. It keeps chickens out of municipal parks, streets, a lowers the actually lowers the city’s cost and burden on animal control. The cities tax dollars should not be wasted on euthanizing chickens that can be nurtured by volunteer operations for Ms. Heumers. Please support Hen Harbor for the service it provides to the County of Santa Cruz. Ms. Heumer is worthy of honor.

  8. Wagging Dog Rescue

    May 1, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Roosters are dumped (or worse) in all 50 states. The problem is overwhelming, and the lack of compassion is depressing. A ban on roosters isn’t going to end cock fighting, just as a pit bull ban doesn’t end dog fighting. Restricting rooster ownership only creates more unwanted and abandoned roosters with no place to go. We’re lucky to have places like Hen Harbor cleaning up irresponsible humanity’s mess, and grateful to those special families who have rooster flocks and give these birds a safe forever home. Focusing on the cruel bloodsport of cock fighting itself, through legislation and action, is a better long term solution. Don’t make it harder for responsible pet owners to keep these misunderstood animals in their families; and you’d be shooting yourself in the foot by impeding any responsible rescuer’s work. If we want fewer roos in our communities, why do we permit retail and feed stores to sell baby chicks when half of them are going to be male and thus illegal as soon as they mature? Legislation is half of the rooster problem!

  9. Jasmin Jhamb

    May 1, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    The proposed ordinance is a problem, not a solution! The proposed ordinance, to limit the number of roosters that can be kept in Santa Cruz County , will be very detrimental to the well being of roosters in the County. Hen Harbor has long been the community’s sanctum for abandoned and unwanted roosters. Any law that would threaten the existence of Hen Harbor should be vehemently opposed.
    Lawmakers should rethink their legislation, as the proposed limitation on the number of roosters that can be kept in Santa Cruz County will have an affect that is contrary to its overall aim. This law will not prevent cockfighting, it will funnel more roosters into euthanasia or the illegal cockfighting trade, as they will have no where to go. A law limiting the number of chickens that can be hatched would be far more effective.
    Everyone deserves a second chance in life, especially innocent roosters. People who genuinely care for them should be praised and applauded for their efforts, not threatened with legislation to limit their ability to legally care for these birds on their properties.

  10. PrettyJhamb

    May 1, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    This ordinance is totally misguided, extremely ignorant, and harmful. If the proposer, of this law, really cared about the roosters that have fallen victim to cock fighting he would work with Ariana to strengthen her aims and objectives since she is one of the only one’s to care about the welfare and ethical treatment of roosters as well as other oppressed and exploited beings She truly gives them a second chance at life. This ordinance would inflict another injustice on one of the most mistreated and abused group of beings; roosters. I am very grateful to Ariana and Hen Harbor for every act of their compassion for the most vulnerable living beings in our society. Thank you so much.

  11. Tiffany Ballou

    April 29, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    As a 501c3 chicken rescue in a high cockfighting area (The Chicken Rescue in Central Texas), I can tell you that a rooster ban will not stop cockfighting. The only thing it will do is result in more dumped roosters that sanctuaries don’t have space for. Cockfighters make too much money off these poor, innocent roosters to care about a citation. They will just move their chickens to a neighbor’s house and the neighbor next to them once that neighbor receives a citation. If that becomes too inconvenient they will simply move them to a different county. A rooster ban will do nothing but harm backyard roosters, their families and the sanctuaries that get the call to surrender a rooster or to report one that has been dumped.

  12. Bailey S

    April 29, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Logically more focus needs to be on cock fighting operations verses trying to limit the number of roosters in general. Focusing on stricter laws regarding cock fighting would also be a step in the right direction. The laws for cock fighting are too lax which continues to encourage cock fighting to occur. The law acts as if a rooster is a parcel or object and not an animal. A rooster is actually an integral part of a chicken flock. Roosters take their jobs very serious when they have a flock to watch over. A proper rooster will play a huge role in overseeing his flock not just from predators but also he will direct the hens and help keep them in order, often times reducing bully behavior that happens among hens. The new proposed ordinance shows they are not serious about ending cock fighting, instead are just trying to do the easiest thing – pass a simple ordinance

  13. Jessica

    April 29, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    It’s ridiculous that the county isn’t more relaxed on roosters. The county was founded on agriculture. I personally love to hear a rooster crow in the morning even if it’s 4am. City Slickers need to chill!

  14. Jessica

    April 29, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Great article! I don’t think rooster bans will stop the cockfighting. Those criminals are not going to follow the laws anyway. There has to be a better way to stop it. Rooster bans will only hurt people like those at Hen Harbor who, or owners who love their roosters. It’ll hurt the roosters even more, as they all end up homeless. They’ll be torn from their homes and family to end up somewhere alone. They are sensitive animals who don’t deserve this!

  15. Terah

    April 29, 2021 at 9:53 am

    Thank you Arianah for all the important work you are doing with your roosters! I will be sharing this information with friends. I have learned a lot and appreciate the efforts of all to increase awareness for the roosters. We had chickens when I was a kid and the roosters (two) were beautiful and friendly members of the flock.

  16. Marilyn A

    April 28, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    Roosters are an integral park of a chicken flock. They make the most awesome pets. You can have a rooster only flock. They are selfless altruistic beings.

  17. Joey

    April 28, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve visited Hen Harbor many times. Ms. Huemer does amazing work day in and day out rescuing abused and neglected roosters and other animals. Hen Harbor does the tireless work of rescuing and care taking for these animals. I hope Mr. Stosuy keeps his promise and does not target Hen Harbor. To do otherwise would be a complete waste of our county resources.

  18. Melanie

    April 28, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Banning roosters is not the solution to cockfighting. It’s the same mindset that if drugs are illegal, no one will use them. Cockfighting operations are stealthy. Changing the ordinance will likely have zero impact on these operations. Plus it’s not fair to chickens in general. It is not fair that hens can be exploited for eggs and roosters are left to be completely discarded and abandoned. If someone buys chicks, they are responsible for every single chick regardless of gender. Lastly, it is not fair to sanctuaries like Hen Harbor, and the one I run in Minnesota, Rooster Redemption. We aren’t here running nonprofits and working for free to clean up people’s “mistakes” by buying chicks. It needs to stop, period.

  19. Kelly Rutkowski

    April 28, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    I am so glad this article was written!! I run Adopt Bird Network, which is a nonprofit which helps birds in animal shelters and rescues find good homes across the United States. Therefore, I am well aware of the counties with the highest rooster intakes and euthanasia rates. Most of these areas are where people have restrictions for keeping roosters. Santa Cruz County already has a very high rooster euthanisia rate. I can only imagine what it will skyrocket to with the revisions proposed regarding the roosters. The answer to a county having one of the highest euthanasia rates in the entire US, is NOT to add more restrictions which will make it even worse. Plus, the proposed revisions will not be effective in stopping the cockfighting. The individuals who participate in that activity are already doing it illegally and aren’t going to stop doing it because of regulations. The only way to stop cockfighting is to make the penalties more then a slap in the wrist, and assign a task force dedicated to stopping it.

    In addition, obviously the local animal control has no real clue what the reality is for these birds, since they don’t even know how to accurately look up the zones.

  20. Susan Cho

    April 28, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    “Todd Stosuy, field services manager for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, says the main objective of the ordinance is to help put a stop to cockfighting operations.” If this is true, then he should work with Hen Harbor instead of against them. Nobody is more invested in stopping cockfighting than Huemer. An ordinance like this will not curb cockfighting operations, which are already illegal and are certainly not deterred by laws. It will hurt only those who are cleaning up after their mess. Find a smarter strategy.

  21. Jewel

    April 28, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Half of all chicks hatched are male. It is absolutely counter productive to allow people to have hens when we know for every hen there will be a rooster hatched. As usual, zoning officials and those who make the rules that dictate the lives of animals know nothing about the problems their ignorance creates for everyone else. Take my organization for instance. In 2010 I founded a non profit called Rooster Sanctuary at Danzig’s Roost. We exist because of this kind of proposal and others like it. It is legal to buy, sell and trade male chicks until they begin to grow. Then, all of a sudden, those chickens become illegal when they reveal themselves. Then what is going to happen? Are the shelters eager to increase their euthanasia rates (if the shelter even counts roosters they kill in their total kill rates)?
    The people behind these rules don’t know anything about roosters and hens used in the world of cockfighting. The ignorance in this area harms everyone in their path. The answer is education and changing the laws that effect cocker’s, not everyone else. Put more investigators in the field that know cockfighting and act on tips of cockfighting. Learn which breeds are used for fighting and learn the common practices so you can identify it. Do not punish anyone for cleaning up the messes made by “authorities”.

  22. Sue cook

    April 28, 2021 at 2:49 am

    Cockerels are amazing birds, they look spectacular, look after their girls. I have 13 cockerels and the neighbours like the sound, it reminds them of their childhood living in the countryside

  23. Jennifer

    April 28, 2021 at 12:33 am

    If you’re reading this and you want to make a change.. go to https://www.santacruzroosters.com/ and follow Ariana’s instructions on how to contact the county and make your voice heard! Oppose the ban! Adopt don’t shop! Save the roosters! Thank you Ariana and Hen Harbor for all you do!

  24. Brandi

    April 27, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    I grew to love chickens a few years ago and never knew what a rooster was (a boy chicken). I didn’t enjoy them at first and was very scared of them. I quickly began to realize that if you show them you are in charge and won’t hurt them, they will grow to like you. Once I started raising little roos from babies, I quickly began to show them love and affection. I have 3 adult roosters who are so lovable and friendly towards humans. They follow you around and protect you. Now I cannot let all 3 of them out together or they will fight each other, but I love them all the same and give them their own space. I don’t dump them off somewhere or kill them because they fight. I love them because they are animals too and need love and affection. I have more knowledge about chickens and roosters now that I have had them for a few years. I used to think roosters were evil, but I completely changed my mind and my way of thinking. Now I don’t mind having more roosters than I should. It’s all in how you take care of them and treat them

  25. Renee

    April 27, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    What Ariana does for roosters, among the many other birds in her great care, is wonderful. Her human kindness is something that many people don’t have or cannot understand. You cannot just throw roosters away because they crow. That’s ridiculous and cruel. Roosters are creations of Almighty God, and He loves them. He expects humanity to care for and love His creatures. Far too many humans think roosters are worthless, disposable, a nuisance, but they’re not. They’re sentient beings with a soul and feelings. I know. I’ve had roosters for 21 years now. They want to be loved like any cat or dog. Any new ordinance, or change in ordinances that would negativity affect Ariana, is cruel and inhumane. She has a calling from God Himself to take in, and care for those abandoned and unwanted roosters. Don’t stop her from doing what she is called to do.

  26. Angel

    April 27, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    Chickens are compassionate beings who also feel pain, physically and emotionally and mentally. Be kind and protect them. Spend some time with a chicken and you will see how wonderful they are! Speak with Ariana and she will tel you the emotional pain she went through when some of her chickens were killed due to cruel inconsiderate laws. She will tell you her story about her birds who were her life and heart. I think some animal laws are cruel and wrong. Logic isn’t always right! God isn’t looking for logic. God looks for compassion and understanding and love in all things. So before making policy and law, the best way I think to create law is to consider kindness. Without God or Universe, this world would dive deeper into chaos.

    Empathy. David Foster Wallace described perfectly the power of empathy. Maybe we should ask ourselves, “What can we do for someone at this very moment?” Isn’t it about time this world practice compassion? Compassion without action is dead.

    Love,
    Angel

  27. Nicole

    April 27, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    The problem isn’t the roosters, it is the places that are selling chicks and creating the problem in the first place and the people that are dumping these animals. We have many roosters and they are wonderful for their flock. The crowing is a lot less noisy than the car traffic from the street we live at. I really don’t see the point of banning roosters.

  28. Morgan

    April 27, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    Roosters are amazing. I’d rather hear a buddy crowing throughout the day then listen to a lot of other sounds I hear in the city. They are wonderful protectors of flocks and deserve love just like our other companions.

  29. Bethany

    April 27, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    These creatures are not disposable. Love the work being done to better care for them.

  30. Courtney Carter

    April 27, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    I oppose this ordinance strongly. To take the lives of many roosters who are loved and who protect their flocks even to death is beyond wrong. Passing this would mean a wrongful murder for many roosters who’s family loves them just as much as they love their dogs or cats. The ordinance claims it will pass to stop cockfighting, but that issue is not as pressent in the mountain. Most roosters here are much more domesticated, but even the possible jungle fowl and other fighting breeds so not deserve to die just for the possibility of their aggression. If you wish to see the end of cockfighting tackle only that issued DO NOT take responsible keepers birds away. Roosters do not deserve to die because of their stigmas

  31. Pam larwood

    April 27, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Great article! Thank you for shining a light on these proposed ordinance changes AND the sheer lack of consistency within this county!! In one sentence Todd says, “if Huemer has 15 roosters, up there, we’re not coming for her…” THEN he says she’s not zoned RA (she absolutely IS, I’ve verified it myself) and admits that they ALREADY DID come for her, illegally seizing her animals, and they were completely in the wrong. Animals were killed and lost and then Melanie Sobel bragged to the Animal Services board about having seized those animals, in the same meeting she asked them to approve these changes (which they blindly, did. all confirmed by reading their minutes report). I raise rare breed chickens and these new ordinances would limit the number of breeds I currently have. I’m zoned RA and have already spent years dealing with neighbor complaints and attempts to shut me down because city folk move to the mountains and don’t want nature around them. I intend to fight for the rights of myself and the other animal keepers and rescuers in this county! If you’re one of those that might be affected by the new ordinance, please get a copy of the proposal and weigh in. Contact me, if you can’t find it.

  32. Bailey

    April 27, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    I’ve been to Hen Harbor to adopt former laying hens from the Central Valley. I can tell you how compassionate Ariana is, from first-hand experience. It seems the County is cutting off their nose to spite their face and this is really a backhanded way to be politically correct in failing to grandfather in her sanctuary. If you’re worried about cock fighting, which is not good, then put together a separate ordinance to ban that. There is no need to lump all roosters into the same category. This respite for unwanted and dumped roosters is a welcome addition to the Santa Cruz County community. Without it, you’re going to have major issues at local parks, schools, etc. with dumped animals. I have an emotional support rooster, and highly recommend them as pets or as a house rooster. They are unapologetically empathic and make wonderful companions!

  33. Katrina Reimer

    April 27, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    Rooster dumping is a huge problem all over the country. The work that Hen Harbor does is so important and needs to be protected. Roosters are amazing animals and are smart, curious, funny and full of personality. They are dedicated protectors of their flock. They make wonderful companion animals. Cockfighting is terrible and needs to be stopped, but if this ordinance isn’t intended for targeting sanctuaries like Huemer’s, then they should modify the ordinance to protect sanctuaries and allow them to continue to do their important work. Keeping them from rescuing lives is ludicrous. Please do the right thing and change this terrible ordinance.

  34. Shannon Bowen

    April 27, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    There are so many important issues at play here … Why are we as a society literally throwing away sentient beings like they’re garbage? Why do we dispose of living creatures when they’re no longer fun or convenient or profitable? Why is cockfighting still prevalent in so many communities? Local legislation needs to combat animal cruelty and give a voice to the voiceless; unfortunately the proposed ordinance in Santa Cruz County does neither of those things. Instead of deterring cockfighters, whose operations are already illegal, this ordinance will criminalize many regular people who keep roosters and make it that much harder for Hen Harbor to shelter these animals. I hope Santa Cruz legislators can step back and appreciate the nuance of this situation, the good work of Hen Harbor, and the value of the lives of these innocent creatures.

  35. Kaleigh

    April 27, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Roosters are a wonderful addition to any flock, and I think any sort of ban on them is unnecessary. It leads to needless deaths and suffering for the roosters and for the humans who love them. Dogs, cats, humans, and even hens can be a lot louder than roosters, or a lot more aggressive than roosters. In addition, roosters help to protect the hens from predators. I really hope this ban isn’t passed, so that hen harbor can continue its work!

  36. Contented Clucks

    April 27, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    I have known Ariana for a number of years and the work that Hen Harbour does is no different than local Humane Societies. There is an obvious need for Hen Harbour considering the dearth of roosters being dumped in California, in parks, parking lots, roadways and highways. Roosters are wonderful, smart, giving companion pets or backyard friends. They are dedicated to the well-being and protection of their flock. They are NOT useless, or a throwaway. Roosters are sentient beings, no different from a cat or dog, and should be provided the same protections.

  37. Nickie

    April 27, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    This is a continuing problem everywhere! Roosters are constantly in danger and we are so grateful for sanctuary’s like Ariana’s they provide a safe haven for them. Zoning restrictions make it impossible for most sanctuaries to rescue more than one rooster. Roosters are incredible sentient beings and make wonderful companions.

  38. Kirsten Rosenberg

    April 27, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Great article! Thank you for spotlighting the often overlooked plight of chickens and other sentient beings merely thought of as “food” or otherwise disposable. Ariana is doing incredibly important and much-needed work. Penalizing Hen Harbor for having too many roosters is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  39. MMS

    April 27, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    I love roosters! It’s awesome that Hen Harbor takes them in and provides a permanent home for them in the mountains when people decide they don’t want them or can’t have them.

    It’s not right that Santa Cruz county wants to virtually ban the existence of roosters in one of the last places they are allowed to exist. People grow chickens all over Santa Cruz county, but a handful of not in my backyard types want to pass ordinances that will force a constant disposal of the male half of the species

  40. Patrice Dally

    April 27, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Months ago, my neighbors here in Hollywood called to ask if I’d keep a rooster in my yard. He had been found sitting on the sidewalk and we surmised he’d been dumped. We contacted Hen Harbour, and 4 days later they picked up ‘Red’, who clearly had been someone’s pet. This was the beginning of a real education for me. Red was a wonderful guest, an adorable and loving pet. He deserves a good home and will be a wonderful pet for some lucky person. This organization is dedicated to rescues, many destined for the evil and inhumane ‘sport’ of cockfighting. We champion Hen Harbour and applaud the meaningful and important difference they are making in lives of animals. We hope that this is understood, valued, and taken into serious consideration, and that such a worthy enterprise will not be ended. These creatures can make excellent pets, and instead of working against Hen Harbour, we hope the community helps to support the work done at Hen Harbour and find homes for the rescues that are so generously cared for!

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