Updated: Monday, 27 Jul 2009, 8:43 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 27 Jul 2009, 7:22 AM EDT
Shelton (WTNH) - Nineteen people were arrested Sunday after police raided a home and seized 150 canaries and finches in a suspected bird fighting ring.
Police also seized $8,000 in cash inside the house on Ripton Road.
The suspects, from as far away as Newark, New Jersey, and the Boston suburbs, face several charges including animal cruelty and illegal gambling.
Police heard about what was going on, got a search warrant, and moved in.
"There was approximately 100 canaries," Sgt. Robert Kozlowsky, Shelton Police. "They were in cages in the middle of the garage where the fighting was allegedly taking place."
"There was cages, where the canaries would be stored. It would open and the two canaries would go in a cage where fighting would occur," Sgt. Kozlowsky said.
Police carried out cages and cages of Canaries and Saffron Finches.
"I was shocked because the neighborhood is quiet and the people seemed like really nice neighbors," Marion Segea said.
Police say they caught the group before the next fight was set to begin, but they believe it's been going on for some time.
Shelton and state authorities are looking into how the birds got to the house, where they came from and how extensive this operation was.
"How they could get 100 canaries in there and nobody know about it is beyond me," Segea said.
At Purr-fect Pets, on Route One in Milford, aggressive is the last word they would use to describe these types of birds.
"I mean, dogs fighting is heard of but I've never heard of canaries fighting, I mean, I've heard of cock fights and stuff like that," said Iris Bergeron of Purr-fect Pets.
Bergeron said they've never had a problem with multiple birds in cages together; in fact, they're a social creature and need companionship. They cost about $120 and can live for about 15 years. The males will sing to woo the females and help establish their territory.
In fact, that is the only time they show any kind of fighting behavior when competing for mates. So Bergeron said that may have been how the bird-fighters were able to get them to hurt each other.
"I don't know for sure but I would assume that if you had two males in a cage with a female, they're gonna fight over the female," said Bergeron.
In animal fighting rings, the animals are abused and food is withheld to make them more vicious. But we're told, the birds are so small, if you didn't feed them, they'd die quite quickly. So it's not totally clear how this all worked.
The following list is of the people that were arrested:
None of the birds removed from the house appear to be injured.