EXCLUSIVE: Stone County Sheriff's Department raids cockfighting operation

REEDS SPRING, Mo. -- A total of 231 chickens were seized Thursday in a massive cockfighting raid in Stone County.

The sheriff says Berry Davis will likely be facing serious animal abuse charges, in addition to drug and possession of stolen property charges.

Deputies first came to the home off Old Highway 160 for a drug investigation after arresting Davis late last week, but ended up finding more than drugs.

"Friday we served a search warrant at this residence and discovered a large amount of methamphetamine, some stolen property, and lots of paraphernalia for fighting roosters," Sheriff Doug Rader said.

The sheriff says there was clear evidence of cockfighting, including knives and straps as well many fighting roosters.

The sheriff's office called in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the ASPCA. A team of about 15 investigators came on Thursday to check the chickens' health, take them to safety at an undisclosed location, and to investigate.

An investigator with the ASPCA describes cockfighting as a brutal activity that includes training roosters and outfitting them with weapons to fight, often to the death.

He says they work about two animal fighting cases nationwide each month, but it's likely happening more than we realize.

"It is still quite prevalent throughout the country. Different areas of the country more than others. I can't speak to [how prevalent it is] here now, but it is also not something that is well known," ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Team Vice President Tim Rickey said.

Because it's often difficult to catch someone doing this, Rickey is commending the sheriff's office for perusing the case so diligently.

He says this is a very serious crime. It's a felony that could land Davis in prison for quite some time.