Meet Penelope: My First Chicken Rescue!

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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 www.wildbirdfund.org

 

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