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Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

LANCASTER - A spokesman for bandar sabung ayam the animal-rights organization PETA has called on District Attorney Steve Cooley to prosecute - ``to the fullest extent of the law'' - 21 men caught at a cockfight.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked that the men, if convicted, be ordered to undergo counseling, be banned for life from contact with animals and to have any animals in their possession taken away.

``Repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception among animal abusers, and this is especially true of animal fighters,'' Daniel Paden, a PETA staffer, wrote in a letter to Cooley.

Ninety-three roosters were confiscated Feb. 13 after deputies acting on a tip found a cockfighting arena near an abandoned house in a sparsely populated area about 15 miles east of Lancaster.

The arena was made of garage doors supported by sawed-off telephone poles and four-by-fours implanted in the ground, with two fighting pits inside.

Scattering, dozens of men ran into the desert or sped off in vehicles as deputies arrived, but 21 were caught. The men who were caught were from San Fernando, Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Newhall and other areas, as well as the Antelope Valley, deputies said.

None of those sabung ayam caught admitted to owning the roosters, so all were cited for the misdemeanor offense of being present at a cockfight, deputies said.

``We are prosecuting them,'' Deputy District Attorney Robert Foltz said Wednesday.

He said prosecutors are awaiting for a sabung ayam final report from the Sheriff's Department before filing charges.

The birds were taken away by county animal-control officers. Animal-control officials said they were not disclosing where the birds were taken for fear that people would try to steal them.

Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742

chuck.bostwick(at) m

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