MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ninety birds are now in the custody of Memphis Animal Services after police say they raided a home believed to be involved in illegal cockfighting.

Now, the Memphis Animal Services shelter is a crisis capacity, with cage after cage full of birds that have to be cared for.

The situation comes after a search warrant was executed at a home along Dunn Avenue in East Memphis. Memphis Police say they were looking into a tip about an illegal cockfighting operation.

“This is a great example of a citizen recognizing that something wasn’t right and calling up, and we were there same day to address it,” said MAS Director Alexis Pugh.

Court documents reveal Memphis Police and MAS found 98 birds, along with several items indicating animals were engaged in cockfighting such as gaffs, ropes and a spur saw, which has neighbors in shock.

“I’m surprised because we didn’t know really what was going, because we never did see nobody down there,” neighbor Deborah L. Woods said.

Police arrested the homeowner, Pedro Hernandez, who told police the animals belonged to him. He’s charged with 83 counts of cruelty to animals.

Pedro Hernandez (SCSO)

“He didn’t bother nobody,” Woods said. “We didn’t know what was going on. Every time I see him, he going to work. He leave like 5:30, 6:00 in the morning going to work.”

Given the birds have been turned over to Memphis Animal Services, it has caused them to exceed capacity and issue a crisis capacity notice to the community.

“When I say today, I need people to get dogs out this building so our staff has the ability to provide care for those that are left, as well as the chickens, I need help today,” Pugh said.

Hernandez was released from jail on his own recognizance.