Meet Penelope: My First Chicken Rescue!


On friday Oct 3rd, 2014, I made my first farm animal rescue! This is the story about how I saved a chicken.

Since witnessing the horrors of Kaporos for the first time on Wednesday, Oct 1st I continued to be haunted by those images (please see previous blog for info about Kaporos and my experience).  I felt called to do something more.  I continued to do research and couldn’t stop thinking about all of the suffering that was happening so close to where I live.

I told my husband about my experience on Wednesday and he decided to take a walk on his own when I was at work to see if he could rescue some or intervene in some way. He found a different location than the one that I found and this one was busier and there was slaughter happening.  The line wrapped around the building.   Walking through Boro Park he stood out because he wasn’t dressed in the same way that Hasidic men were.  He was asked to leave several times by several different people for just standing there.  He realized quickly that he wasn’t going to be able to get close enough to rescue any or take pictures, so he left.  As he was walking up the street he smelled something horrible.  The further up the street he walked the smell got even worse.  Then he notice hundreds of dead chickens piled on top of each other, stuffed in crates underneath a truck on the street.  They were not slaughtered but appeared to have died due to dehydration.  These chickens are kept without any water or food for days and many of them die in the process.  As he began to video tape what he was seeing he was approached by 4 men.  One man put his hands on his shoulders from behind and told him to leave now.  My husband nicely stated that he was standing on the sidewalk on public property and they couldn’t make him leave.  Then four more men came and circled him.   He  was outnumbered and didn’t know what they were going to do, so he left.

We called and reported public health violations, called the police for animal cruelty and the SPCA.  I never received follow ups from any of them so to my knowledge no actions were taken.

At this point, we were both furious! My husband was not causing any harm and was not allowed to even stand on the sidewalk on public property without being asked to leave.  Why wasn’t anybody doing anything? All of these dead animals on the street were clearly a public health violation.  The police didn’t seem phased by this either.  Where do we draw the line between religious freedom and animal cruelty and public health?

The practice happens from Wednesday  until around 8:00 am  Friday morning on the eve of Yom Kippur.  I had to go back out there. I left very early Friday morning to see what I could do.   It was my intention to rescue at least one chicken from this hell on earth called Kaporos.   And I did just that! I will keep the details of how I did it private, but lets just say that I did nothing illegal and I was able to put my acting training to good use.  Unfortunately because of this I was unable to get video footage or any pictures.  This was a different location that I went to than before and it was much worse than what  I had seen previously.  Teens were handing out the birds.  They were standing on crates with chickens stuffed inside of them.  There were chicken body parts all along the side walk  where people were standing.  They were being slaughtered in public view in an alley with a very small, clear tarp that didn’t cover at all what they were doing.  They weren’t only slitting their throats, but they were cutting up the birds and processing the meat right on the table.  I saw everything.  The men and women received different birds and it appeared that the women were given the “defective” ones with injuries and such.  I’m sorry for the graphic detail but it is important that people know what happens at these events.

When I got the bird at first she was very scared.  After all she witnessed her fellow chickens brutally killed right next to her, she had no water or food for days, she had feces on her back from the crates being stack on top of each other and she also appeared to have had some trauma to her head because she had one eye completely closed shut and both eyes appeared to be bruised. But amazingly as soon as I left the area with her she was calm and remained calm ever since.  I believe she knew what was happening.  She needed immediate vet care but there was nothing open for a couple more hours. It was now 7 am.  I brought her in my house, took her into my bathroom and shut the door, safe from my two cats. I immediately got her some water.  When I came back in she did not look well at all.  I thought I was going to lose her right then.  I began to put the water up to her mouth and she would drink little amounts of it.  Here is a video

After taking several sips she began to show signs of life.  Here is a video of her after some water.  

Her eyes did not look good and she still needed immediate care.  I called the Wild Bird Fund and explained the situation.  They said to bring her in right away.   They saw her even though it was not during their normal hours and they were completely full and not accepting any more birds.  She was given tubes of water for her extreme dehydration and they decided to admit her to monitor her and for further testing. Her prognosis is still to be determined.

I have named my chicken friend, Penelope.  I ask that you send her healing thoughts, vibes and prayers to make a full recovery that she may be able to live out her days happily in a sanctuary and free from human harm.

I wished that I could have saved all of the thousands of chickens that lost their lives last week.   But, I felt that if I could save any amount of life it would be worth it.  Penelope and I spent a lot of time that morning looking into each others eyes.  I made sure that she felt love from a human for the first time in her life.  I told her that she mattered and that she was important and beautiful.  I apologized for the way that members of my species treated her and her fellow chickens. I promised that I would tell her story and do everything in my power to end Kaporos and the suffering of chickens.  This blog is the first step in that process.

To honor Penelope and the thousands of chickens that lost their lives last week in Kaporos and on factory farms, I ask that you pledge to abstain from eating chicken.  Feel free to take the pledge for a week, a month or ideally, give it up forever.  There are many wonderful products that you can use as a substitute for chicken.  One of my favorites is called “Beyond Meat”.  The taste and texture are almost perfect matches.  It is made from 100% plant based protein and is non-gmo and gluten free. Here is a link to their website for more info and recipes.

If you would like more info about the Wild Bird Fund or to make a donation to support the agency that is taking care of Penelope please go to their website at


  • Update: Click here for an update about Penelope and her story

12 thoughts on “Meet Penelope: My First Chicken Rescue!

  1. karen338

    Dear Vanessa, thank you for your moving and informative story about your Kaporos experience and that of your husband, and your rescue of Penelope. I am sending healing thoughts to Penelope, who is so fortunate to have been saved and loved by you. It is possible that Penelope will turn out to be a rooster. I hope this will not be a problem if so. Thank you for showing Penelope the kindness and love that she (or he) never knew before from a human being. Love and hugs to Penelope and to you and your husband for your activism on behalf of the chickens–all chickens everywhere. Karen Davis, President, United Poultry Concerns and

  2. rdeych

    Thank you for rescuing Penelope, and for reporting the places you came across. Friday morning, which was actually the day of Yom Kippur Eve, I went around my neighborhood of Boro Park with photographer and videographer friends of mine to check for birds left behind. One awful place was still doing the ritual midday. The shochet (ritual slaughterer) was cutting the throats, and just throwing the suffering, dying birds into a crate with the bloody, feces-covered dead ones. I shot this video there: . I immediately called the police, who came relatively quickly, and who were actually very nice. I showed them a copy of the Agriculture and Markets Law, which they are supposed to enforce (but don’t know it), which (among other things) forbids the cruel handling of ALL animals, requires that ALL animals be fed and given water and shelter, forbids the setting up of a slaughterhouse (not defined by walls … meaning any place they are doing slaughter) within 1500 feet of a residential area, etc. I gave the guy running the ritual such a hard time, he gave me the remaining 17 chickens who were alive. They are at a wonderful sanctuary now. .
    Please join our group the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos. Our web site is:
    Rina Deych, Founding Member, Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos

  3. Kim Anisi

    Thank you for being one of the good people – we need more like you, and less like those morons who think killing a chicken will release them of their sins (I would say it only ADDS to it).
    I used to raise chickens (happy, REAL free range chickens, without ever killing a rooster – the roosters were either sold with a few hens as starter group for people new to chickens, or on their own to people who had hens and wanted to start breeding). I only eat eggs when I know the chickens personally. And I don’t eat any bird at all. I would feel like a traitor to all the chickens I raised and the chickens (roosters mainly) I saved from certain death. As I am currently travelling through the UK via WWOOF and helpx, I stay with different people every couple of months. And so far they had all adjusted to my “no birds” diet. It might not be a big thing, but at least I always try my best to open people’s eyes to things they never see.
    Chickens are wonderful animals and make really good pets/friends.
    I wish all people who treat chickens to miserably would simply drop dead.

  4. JanetE

    Animal sacrifice openly carried out on the streets of residential areas of Brooklyn! Is Brooklyn a part of New York City? Would this be tolerated in midtown Manhattan? No! Apparently, NYC law mandating no animal slaughter operations within 1500 feet of houses in residential areas is not being enforced in Brooklyn, NY! Why is that? Is this a way to force other residents to live elsewhere because no decent person can tolerate proximity to this mass killing and the accompanying filth and smells? Why are animals being kept stacked up in crates with no food or water for days and allowed to suffer when it is against the law? Why did these Orthodox males feel free to gang up on and threaten non-Orthodox citizens freely exercising their rights to walk on the public sidewalk and lawfully take whatever photos or videos they choose from there? Is it because they know the mayor, the NYPD, and the new Brooklyn DA all operate under the sway of their religious leadership and nothing will happen to them for violating other people’s rights? It’s frightening! Law-abiding citizens in Brooklyn, New York have nowhere to turn in the face of this unconstitutional collusion between a particular religious group and the state. They are witness to the scary and stubborn failure of the authorities to enforce religiously-neutral statutes on the books that are supposed to be applicable to all! The media is cooperating by not covering this story, year after year, in the media capital of the world! All the organizations that avidly favor “church-state separation” consistently look the other way in the face of this illegal horror show which the authorities are allowing and we are not hearing from them. The ASPCA in NYC is mute also. What a disgrace! Thank goodness for some very brave people who have come forward to fight this evil and to rescue helpless chickens. They deserve our support and participation to stop the cruelty and get all the laws enforced in this “nation of laws”(?).

  5. JanetE

    Does anyone know how 1) the NYPD can grant a permit for illegal animal sacrifice in the streets and private schoolyards of residential neighborhoods in Brooklyn and then 2) have its officers present to protect and foster the illegal activities and studiously ignore citizen complaints about what’s going on? First of all, religiously-neutral law requires that animals be killed in licensed slaughterhouses when used for human consumption. Over and over again we are told these chickens that are bought by participants will wind up being consumed by “the poor.” Over and over, on the contrary, we have seen so many simply dumped into big black garbage bags and discarded but nevertheless, the organizers insist they will feed people (?). Taking them at their word–how can they be killed for food outside of a licensed slaughterhouse, per the law? The law forbids having a slaughterhouse in a residential neighborhood, within a certain distance from houses–so obviously, a permit for Kaporos with chickens should not be granted in these residential settings. If this horror is to happen, it should not be anywhere other than within a licensed slaughterhouse! Either that or stop fabricating that the chickens are feeding people. How can the police be standing around using their authority to make this loathesome activity happen in residential areas under improperly-granted permits? Also, how can a permit be granted that effectively allows organizers to systematically withhold food and water from the chickens stacked in plastic crates for days–so they won’t defecate on the holy participants when it’s their turn to abuse their purchased animals further by swinging them around over their heads? Withholding food and water from the animals is against NYS law but inevitably this law will be violated when permits for Kaporos with chickens are inexplicably granted. There is a major problem in that permits should not be offered that sanction activity that is illegal for everyone, religious or not.

    • dawnell WFAS

      I know that this year there are lawyers actively trying to put a stop to this barbaric ritual. So many NYS laws are being broken. Each year, more and more protestors gather, increasing attention and outrage. These chickens are also babies, 38-42 days old. Some still have fluff and they all peep.

  6. dawnell WFAS

    I’m curious. Did anyone ever mention possible splay leg? This is very common with these young birds. Do her thigh muscles seem under developed to you? Often the problem is that since these little ones are bred and genetically modified to gain weight very quickly, their legs cannot keep up. If this is the case, her thigh muscles will feel underdeveloped causing her to not be able to stand. If she has Mareks her legs would be splayed in opposite directions and her crop would swell. The sling and PT are both beneficial and it’s quite amazing that she has regained the strength to walk again. I’m sure you are aware that she needs to be on a restricted diet? She’s beautiful and thank you for giving her a loving home.

    • Vanessa Post author

      Hi! Thank you. No she didn’t have splayed legs. Her thigh muscles are quite developed. She maintained around the same weight from the time that I got her until she stopped using her legs (about a month) so weight gain wasn’t the cause. Also the legs going in opposite directions is not the only way that Marek’s presents itself. It is the most common though. She was paralyzed though on one side more that the other. I am aware that she needs a restricted diet because of her breed.
      Thanks Dawnell!


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