19 arrested in Wisconsin cockfighting ring, farm owner says he had no idea

Police busted a cockfighting ring on a western Wisconsin dairy farm over the weekend and made 19 arrests, but the owner of the farm, a veterinarian, told police he had no idea it was going on.

On Jan. 24 just after 1 p.m., the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department received word the event was going on at 1721 315th Street in Glenwood City, Wis., about 70 miles east of the Twin Cities. Deputies heard "loud chicken noises" in an area away from the dairy barn, and saw several people gathering around a "makeshift shelter," and then running into the woods.

Police from St. Croix County, Polk County, Wisconsin State Patrol and Woodville and Baldwin police departments arrested and booked 19 people into the St. Croix County Jail for being a spectator in a cockfight. All 19 posted bail and have been released. About 250 birds were involved.

The owner of the farm, Roberts, Wis. veterinarian Dr. Marvin Johnson, was "extremely helpful from the onset and continues to assist my office even today" St. Croix County Sheriff John Schilts said in a release. Johnson told police he had no idea the cockfighting was taking place, and he helped police find safe places for the roosters found on-site. Dr. Johnson "has also made it clear to his employees that they are expected to cooperate with our investigation to the extent that they can."

Dr. Johnson tends to his dairy herd, and there were chickens on the farm that belonged to his employees for "accepted farming practices."

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