After a nearly three-month investigation, Monroe police and the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office on Sunday crashed what appeared to be a cockfighting party — busting up a cockfighting ring and arresting 17 people on animal-fighting charges.

After a nearly three-month investigation, Monroe police and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday crashed what appeared to be a cockfighting party — busting up a cockfighting ring and arresting 17 people on animal-fighting charges.

Officials removed more than 59 gamecocks from a detached garage in the 44700 block of Pine Road in Gold Bar, where the cockfight was to take place, Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.

The birds were euthanized.

The 17 men arrested were either alleged participants or spectators to what is seen in some cultures as a sport.

In Washington state, participating in or attending a cockfight is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison or up to a $10,000 fine.

Willis said the men had apparently planned a cockfighting party, with five boxes of pastries laid out.

“We rained on their party today,” she said.

Four men ran from the scene and remain at large, she said. A 14-year-old boy who was initially taken into custody was released to his parents.

Police allege the birds were bred, trained, fought and sold at this property. They confiscated what appeared to be tackle-style boxes filled with little knives that participants attach to the legs of the roosters when they fight.

“These birds suffer violent injuries such as punctured lungs or gouged-out eyes and are often left to slowly die,” said Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist for The Humane Society of the United States, which provided professional expertise to the investigation.

While outlawed in Washington for a century, cockfighters and police estimate that each year there are at least 100 fights around the state, supported by about 1,000 breeders.

The blood sport survives despite some of the stiffest penalties in the country. In 2005, animal-rights activists persuaded lawmakers to make it a felony to raise fighting cocks.

The cockfighting circuit is thriving mostly in rural Washington and among immigrant groups from countries — including Mexico and the Philippines — where cockfighting is legal.

A number of other agencies were involved in the raid, including the Washington State Gambling Commission, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Child Protective Services.

Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or lturnbull@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @turnbulll.