Warning: This report contains details about animal abuse that some may find upsetting
A Ramsey couple is facing felony charges related to a suspected cockfighting operation, according to criminal complaints filed against them in Anoka County.
Jeff Tong Khue Yang, 37, and Tina Mylisa Xiong, 38, have been charged with several counts of animal cruelty after investigators allege that they found extensive evidence on their property indicative of animal fighting and seized over five dozen birds, many which were malnourished and injured.
The complaints state that the alleged operation was discovered in June when a Ramsey community service officer (CSO) visited the property on the 7800 block of 159th Lane Northwest in the city of Ramsey, Minnesota, in response to a noise complaint.
The CSO upon arriving heard roosters crowing and observed numerous animal cages and roosters and chickens running around. The animals were missing feathers, had open wounds and were skinny, and their housing appeared inadequate for the weather. Ramsey city ordinance also prohibits ownership of roosters, the complaints state.
The CSO took photos of the birds and forwarded them to the Animal Humane Society and spoke with humane investigator Ashley Pudas, who agreed that the birds were not receiving proper care. The complaint said that based on Pudas’ training and experience, she believed the birds may have been used for fighting due to their wounds and missing feathers.
A subsequent visit was made to the property by the CSO, Pudas and another investigator. At that time, they observed several chickens and roosters in makeshift wire cages with “inadequate” housing and food. The investigators found another group of roosters in individual cages in the garage. The animals on site were observed with injuries indicative of animal fighting such as fresh injuries in their throat areas, removed spurs and missing feathers. The roosters were a breed known to be used in animal fighting, the complaint said.
A search warrant was obtained and executed on the property on July 1. Officers recovered five bags of feathers with superglue. The complaint said that when a bird is injured during a fight, it is common for competitors to use superglue to add feathers to a bird as a layer of protection. Officers also recovered medications such as steroids and antibiotics; some were marked “for use in fighting cocks only.” Also found was a container of beaks, which are commonly glued back onto injured birds whose beaks are damaged.
A box labeled “Jeff’s Stuff” was found in a back bedroom that contained hand-painted rooster figurines that appeared to be trophies from fights. A mail package was also recovered that contained two DVDs. One of the DVDs had “Jeffs Bird” written on it and another DVD labeled “chickens” was recovered from a crawlspace. Later review showed that the DVDs contained recordings of cockfights. Examination of the birds showed one of them had a ball-shaped item taped to its spur with electrical tape, a set-up that is common for use in training since it allows a bird to fight without causing injury, the complaint said.
In a telephone interview with Xiong, she stated to an investigator that she and Yang bought the property around October 2018. Xiong admitted that she and Yang owned the chickens but claimed she didn’t know there was a rooster ordinance. Xiong claimed the birds were only used for food and not fighting and denied knowledge of any of the cockfighting paraphernalia that was found throughout her house. Xiong told the investigator that Yang was interested in cockfighting and that she had seen him watch videos of fights.
Yang subsequently told the investigator that the feathers were used for making fishing lures and that the medications were to help the chickens lay eggs. He denied participating in cockfighting.
Humane agents removed sixty-one birds from the property and brought them to the Humane Society where they were examined by a forensic veterinarian. Forty-seven of the birds were found to be underweight and four of those birds died within a few days of intake. The cause of death is not known but the complaint stated that the birds “were clearly not provided adequate care.”
Examination of the birds revealed that all of them had evidence of feather loss, erythema, mites, and external parasites. All of the adult roosters had their keel feathers plucked in a consistent manner, making it likely that the loss was caused intentionally. Further many of the roosters either lacked spurs or had trimmed spurs, a practice that is exclusively done to facilitate fighting. Other injuries observed on the birds were ones that would have been observable to a caretaker and should have received proper care. The veterinarian determined that none of the animals had received adequate housing or nutrition, the complaint said.
Yang and Xiong are each charged with one felony count of animal cruelty and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty involving overwork or mistreatment. Yang is facing an additional felony charge of animal cruelty involving use, training and/or possession for fighting.
Both Yang and Xiong were charged by summons in December and are not in custody. Both are scheduled to make their first court appearances in Anoka County on Feb. 7 at 1 p.m.
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