City of Kent considering rooster ban to help stop cockfighting

Current law only addresses crowing

One of the roosters removed in 2020 from a Kent property by Regional Animal Services of King County during an investigation of the birds being raised and sold for cockfighting. COURTESY PHOTO, Regional Animal Services of King County

One of the roosters removed in 2020 from a Kent property by Regional Animal Services of King County during an investigation of the birds being raised and sold for cockfighting. COURTESY PHOTO, Regional Animal Services of King County

Roosters could soon be banned from the city of Kent in an effort to help stop people who raise the animals for cockfighting.

The city’s Land Use and Planning Board voted unanimously April 26 to recommend that the Kent City Council approve the ban. A date for a council vote has not yet been set.

A couple of residents raised rooster concerns with the city because of a nearby neighbor who has dozens of birds on his property that he reportedly raises for fighting.

Christian Vazquez-Lopez pleaded not guilty in October to an animal fighting charge after King County animal control officers raided his property in May 2020 in the 28000 block of 149th Avenue Southeast. His trial is scheduled to start July 28 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Vazquez-Lopez reportedly had 91 roosters with 48 being altered and 13 being partially altered. He had medications, supplements, training equipment and posters associated and used for cockfighting, according to King County Superior Court charging documents. He had a transport box, with blood on the inside walls, typically used to transport birds to and from fights. Cockfighting is illegal in the state. People bet on which cock will win a fight.

City staff said they receive periodic complaints regarding rooster noise, but enforcement of the public nuisance section has proved challenging. As the nuisance is crowing, code enforcement officers must observe and record the crowing first-hand in order to issue citations.

Kent allows “domesticated fowl” (chickens, ducks, geese, swans, or other fowl of similar size and character) on lots of 5,000 square feet or larger. Three fowl are allowed on a 5,000-square-foot lot, and one additional fowl is allowed for each additional 1,000 square feet per city code.

Roosters, however, are not specifically addressed except within the public nuisances section in city code, which deems the “keeping or harboring of any animal which by frequent habitual … crowing or the making of other noises shall annoy or disturb a neighborhood or any considerable number of persons” is a nuisance and thus unlawful.

“A simple ban would be easier to enforce, as officers would only need to observe presence of a rooster,” according to city staff.

Following research and consultation with the city’s legal department, staff said it believes a zoning code amendment is needed, and recommends specifically banning roosters.

“Many other cities including Auburn, Renton, and Federal Way ban roosters within city boundaries,” according to city staff.

If adopted by the Kent City Council, owners would have 30 days to remove the roosters.

Residents can send comments about the proposed ban by May 15 to the City of Kent Planning Services Department, 220 Fourth Ave. S., Kent, WA, 98032.

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