So many people have been wanting an update about Penelope and they have been wondering where she ended up and how she is feeling (please see previous blog for info about her rescue). It has been a very eventful past couple of weeks filled with lots of uncertainty and emotion. It also has been extremely time consuming so I haven’t been able to blog as much as I had planned. I am happy that I didn’t though because now I have the full story to share with you. Here it is…
Penelope was staying at the Wild Bird Fund where they were taking wonderful care of her and helping her to heal. It seemed that something must’ve fallen on her little face in the time before I rescued her because she had black and blue marks around both of her eyes and one eye was very puffy and infected.
She was recovering beautifully and I had arranged for her to go and stay at the Tamerlaine Farm Sanctuary. I contacted the Wild Bird Fund to tell them that I made arrangements to bring her there now that she was recovered. They told me that earlier that day Penelope suddenly stopped using her legs and they were extended straight out in front of her and she was lying on her belly. She was unable to pull them underneath her even to stand up. They weren’t exactly sure why this suddenly happened but they began giving her vitamin b shots to see if that would help her. Unfortunately it didn’t and she seemed to be getting worse. The vet only visits the WBF once or twice a week and had no plans of coming in within the next couple of days. Since this was very serious I came to get her and brought her to an avian vet to get their opinion. They said that it appeared that she has Marek’s disease but there is no way to test and to know for sure if that is what she had. Marek’s disease is a viral induced cancer. However, the symptoms of Marek’s that she was experiencing could’ve be due to multiple other things. They prescribed an antibiotic and a pain killer to see if she would show any signs of improvement. If she had Marek’s she would not improve. They don’t house the birds there and if she did have Marek’s disease she would be highly contagious to other birds, so I had to bring her back to my apartment to stay with us. Marek’s is not transmittable to mammals. We bought lots of puppy training pads to put under her, bought large cardboard boxes, and food. We did lots of research about how to care for her. To feed her we had to hold her on our laps and bring the food and water right up to her mouth. We tried to leave it in her dish but she wasn’t mobile and with her legs out stretched in front of her she kept knocking it over. In many ways she was like a little infant that we suddenly were taking care of.
She loved being held and would cuddle all day long.
The fact that she couldn’t use her legs anymore seemed to really freak her out. She would slap her legs back and forth on the ground and she would flap her wings so hard in a panic. She got some cuts and bruises on her wing and legs from doing this. It was really hard to watch her struggle. But it was clear that she very much had the will to live.
Unfortunately after a couple of days she appeared to be getting worse. She started losing function in her right leg and her toes went completely limp and lifeless. We brought her in to the vet for further testing to rule out anything else that could be causing this. They took X-rays, ran many blood tests and did fecal analysis. Later that day she began screaming every time that she would have a bowel movement and it would be covered in blood. This continued for a couple of days. There was one night that I stayed up holding her like my baby all night long while she screamed every two minutes.
I couldn’t help but cry watching her suffer and I was thinking that it would be much more humane to put her down, even though that was the last thing that I wanted to do. She has been through so much already that I had hoped that her story would end another way. I prayed a lot and asked for guidance and out of the blue I had the thought that maybe the medication that she was on was causing her bowel issues . Sure enough after researching the side effects of the meds that she was on one of the side effects was “blood in stool”. So I discontinued using it. The next morning I gave her some plain almond milk yogurt for the probiotics and she ate it right up. That night she no longer had blood in her stool and didn’t scream at all when she went. She has had no more bowel problems since. Thank God. I also researched chickens that recovered from Marek’s disease because the longer that we had her and we learned about it the more it seemed that that is what she had. The vet was also pretty sure that it was Marek’s. I found a few sites where there were cases of chickens recovering from this disease even though conventional medicine says otherwise. Many people have had success with using the homeopathic remedy Hypericum (St. John’s Wort). I had a dear friend recommend giving her Colloidal Silver because of the amazing healing properties that it has. I looked that up and sure enough, there are many cases of chickens recovering from Marek’s using Colloidal Siver. So we had to try. We alternated giving her the CS and Hypericum every 4 hours. (I will leave instructions for what we did for anyone that also has a chicken with Mareks that they would like to save.) Update: Here is a link to detailed instructions about the remedies I used and how to administer them. http://wp.me/p4UsRC-7p
She also received distance energy healing and so many prayers. Penelope was not giving up and as long as she fought for her life, we said we would fight for her life as well.
Very quickly her strength started coming back. We brought her outside daily so that no matter what happened she got to experience what it was like being on the grass. She was in a cage her entire life and never got to feel the earth under her. This was one of my biggest wishes for her when I rescued her. And even though she was unable to walk her first time on the grass, she truly seemed content.
Just 2 days into giving her the homeopathy she began pulling her legs underneath her again. My husband, Steve made her a little therapy swing to give her some relief from lying on her belly, hitting her wings and bruising her legs. It also began to train her legs back underneath her and get the blood flowing back into her toes. She seemed to enjoy it. While she was in there I would massage her legs and train her feet to press firmly into the ground again.
After 5 days she stood up for a few seconds on her own. 7 days into it she was standing stronger with one foot flat on the ground and stable. The other one that she lost all feeling in was curled underneath her and she pressed up on to her wrist to stand.
On day 9, after some time in her sling we set her in the middle of the living room floor. To our surprise she stood up and she began to walk again with both feet flat on the ground. We were literally jumping up and down with excitement!
She has gotten her strength back and is now walking all around the apartment.
For most chickens being diagnosed with Marek’s disease is a death sentence. Traditional medications generally do not work and we were told by a few vets that it would be in her best interest to euthanize her because it would be a slow and painful death. But my husband and I wanted to do everything in our power to make sure that she got the chance at the life that she deserved. We are so happy that we trusted our instincts and she miraculously pulled through. She is so strong and has been through so much already. She is only 14 weeks old. This little lady dodged death so many times in her short life. She was saved from slaughter during Kaporos. When I rescued her she was so dehydrated that she almost died on the way home. She had a seriously infected eye injury and she now is blind in that eye. Then she was almost euthanized due to the chance that she had Marek’s disease. And she had a reaction to the antibiotic that could’ve been fatal if we didn’t discontinue it immediately. I am thrilled to say that she is on the mend. In spite of all that she has been though, Penelope is the sweetest and most loving little soul I have ever met. No matter how her story ends she has changed so many lives for the better. She has made my husband and I better vegans. We are more nurturing and loving because of having known her. I’ve had countless people tell me that since they have known her or heard about her and her story that they are no longer able to eat chicken. This includes her caretakers and vets. Co-workers ask for updates every day and she has countless people praying for her. She and her story are educating the public about the slaughters that happen at Kaporos every year. Thousands of other birds just as sweet and loving as Penelope lose their lives in this practice. But of course chickens don’t only lose their lives during Kaporos. 50 Billion chickens die every year for food. They have individual personalities and a desire to live just as much as Penelope. I am honored to know her and am inspired by this beautiful, brave soul every day. The original plan was to send her to a sanctuary, but we have become quite attached to her and are considering keeping her permanently.
Update: Please click here for an update about Penelope
Penelope is noticeably happier since she is feeling better. Chickens purr when they are content just like cats do. Please enjoy this video of our happy little chicken friend.