LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)—A man charged in connection with operating a cockfighting ring is headed to trial.
At a preliminary hearing, a judge found probable cause to move forward in the case against 54-year-old Nhia Vang. Vang is charged with instigation of animal fights, a felony and intentionally mistreat animals, an A misdemeanor. Vang entered a plea of not guilty on both counts.
"They're not a typical chicken," said Amiie Gabrilska, a protection and rescue supervisor for animal control. "These are birds that are a specific breed that are used for fighting."
Gabrilska testified the 14 birds removed from Vang's property showed signs of being used in cockfights.
"The animals had dubbed waddles, that's the skin underneath the chins on chickens and some had dubbed combs," Gabrilska said. "The reason for that dubbing in cockfighting is so, those are vary vascular areas and they cut those areas and let them heal so that in a fight a bird doesn't loose as much blood as quickly, so the fight can continue on longer."
Investigators say they found blood spatter on the walls of the barn and loose feathers.
"We noticed that in one of the corners there was a piece of pink carpeting, approximately 10 feet by 10 feet in dimension and on top of that carpeting was a roll of what appeared to be wire fencing and on the carpet there appeared to be blood," said Sgt. Mark Yehle, an investigator for the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department.
But Vang's attorney contends the birds were raised for meat.
"During the course of your investigation did you attempt to contact any witnesses who may have been present during an alleged cockfighting incident?" Vang's attorney asked at the hearing.
"No we haven't," Yehle replied.
Meanwhile outside the courtroom, Gabrilska took the birds under her wing.
"The birds are actually doing quite well. We're getting birds that are a lot more comfortable and the skin irritations are certainly progress. So we're very happy to see them coming along."
Gabrilska says it's hard to see the injured animals but she's pleased with their progress and the court's decision to send Vang to trial.
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