Cockfighting is a blood sport that continues underground in parts of the US despite being illegal in every state. The roosters pictured here were rescued in law enforcement raids on properties that were hosting illegal cockfighting rings. They have found a safe haven at the Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna, Ohio. The sanctuary has taken in 159 roosters since 2015, but it has been forced to put a hold on intake due to space constraints.
Many of these roosters remain in search of permanent homes several years later, as finding people to adopt them can be challenging. Indeed, it can be risky to introduce them into a group that has an established rooster, but in the right home, they can be good companions and guardians of their flock. One volunteer caretaker, Vicky Mastroianni, points to the misconceptions that make it hard to find adopters. “They are always overlooked because people think they’re mean,” she says. “When it’s people that did this to them.”
Photographer Carol Sahley began this photo project after reading about these roosters in the news. This photo series demonstrates the striking beauty and resilience of these animals despite their torment at the hands of man.
To learn more about these roosters, contact [email protected].