Kaporos, The Fight Continues

penelope meme


I first want to start by saying thank you all for your beautiful comments and support with regards to our film.  I have received messages from all around the globe and it warms our hearts to know that Penelope’s story is making an impact.  Duncan Skiles did an amazing job and we are so grateful for his dedication to this project.

We had high hopes that shortly after the film was released, the use of chickens in Kaporos would be a thing of the past (or at least in the public streets of brooklyn) due to a lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court to issue an injunction against Hasidic rabbis and synagogues in Brooklyn.  Unfortuantley the judge denied the claim and 50,000 chickens will lose their lives in this practice between now and tuesday morning 9/22.  In some locations, the chickens arrived last night.

“Supreme Court Judge Debra James, dodging the claimed conflict between religious rights and public health, ruled that city officials had discretion to decide whether to enforce sanitary codes, and private parties couldn’t sue over an alleged “public nuisance.” To read the full Newsday article click here.

As you can imagine we are devastated and shocked that the judge would deny our claim when 15 laws with regard to public health are being broken each year.  Here is a statement from The Alliance to End Chickens As Kaporos.  It is appalling that a judge would allow 50,000 chickens to be slaughtered on the streets, especially when there is an avian flu outbreak.   There are feathers, feces and blood from these birds all over the sidewalk and people get that on their shoes and track it onto the subways and into their homes. There is a reason why there are laws in place that state that you can’t have a public slaughterhouse within a certain amount of feet from a residence.     Potentially these diseases could spread all over New York so this is much more than just a Borough Park/ Williamsburg/Crown Heights issue.  Last year there was a dead pile that was left on the street for a week that you could smell from blocks away.  The police and sanitation department were notified and there wasn’t anything done about it.  This year we really need the public support.



What You Can Do: 

  • Sign this petition.
  •  If you are in the NYC area, please consider attending the protests that are happening on sunday and monday evening in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  Please click on the link for more details.
  • Contact the police department and 311 asking them to enforce the laws with regard to public health. Document your calls!
  • If you witness the practice, document it by taking photos and video
  • Share Penelope’s documentary with your family and friends! The most common comment that we have received is that people have never heard of this ritual. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llFZmcy5Whw


Thank you for your support! 

Penelope: A Rescue Story- A Short Documentary




It has been quite a year.  I launched this blog about compassion towards animals exactly one year ago, today.  Little did I know what the next year would have in store for me and how much my life would change.

A HUGE thank you to Duncan Skiles for taking an interest in our story and creating this documentary.

This is being released just days before a judge will rule on the Kaporos court case and a couple of weeks before Kaporos is scheduled to take place again.

If you like what you see, please share to help raise awareness and spread Penelope’s message.

Thank you!!!!

Penelope update 12/30/14


Hi! Thank you so much everyone for your concern  about Penelope.  We have been getting many questions about how she is doing and where she is living so I will answer the most popular questions here in this blog.  For info about her rescue and Kaporos (the ritual that she was saved from) please see previous blog posts.

Where is Penelope living now? 
Penelope has been living with us now for almost 2 months.

Why did you decide to keep her with you? I thought you were bringing her to a sanctuary. 

When she began walking again we debated about what we wanted to do as far as bringing her to a sanctuary or keeping her with us in our NYC apartment.  We love her and want to do the best thing for her.  Some factors that we had to keep in mind were that she has a blind eye and lost a lot of feathers around her wings from when she wasn’t able to walk.  She had scabs on the end of her wings too so we had to at least wait for those to heal.  Chickens tend to be cruel to sick or injured chickens because they pose a threat to the whole flock if a predator comes around.  Also, if Penelope did have Marek’s disease she could be a carrier of the disease and could pose a threat to other chickens.  So with those factors in mind we decided to keep her with us. Plus, we grew kind of attached to her.

How do the cats get along with her? Are you worried that she might get attacked? 

That was a huge concern of ours.  The whole time that we were nursing her back to health she was separated from the cats in different parts of the apartment and they never saw each other.  We researched how to introduce cats to other animals in the best way.  We did it very slowly and monitored their every encounter while making sure that both the cats  and the chicken got the same amount of attention and affection.  Amazingly, it worked.  There has never been any sign of Penelope being threatened or in any danger.  She is just about as big as they are so she is not viewed as a food source. When she flaps her wings the cats get scared and run away.  But they hang out in the same room now and are actually friends.   We still separate them when we are not home though just to be safe. IMG_1213

She stays with you in the apartment and not outside? 

Right now it is a little too cold for her to be outside all alone, as a single chicken.  We do bring her in the backyard though if it is a warmer day for a few hours and of course, she loves it.  In the spring we will build her a little coop outside and will consider getting another chicken friend for her.  2 chickens in the apartment right now would be a bit much.  We have a spare bedroom that has become her room.  We bought a baby gate to close off the room at night  and we put puppy pads down to catch her droppings.  We also have a chicken diaper for her during the day.

Chicken diapers? 

Yes, they make chicken diapers! They are reusable and they strap over her back to hold it in place. IMG_1079



What does she eat? 
I make her homemade food.  I don’t want to give her any feed containing GMOs.  It’s a mix consisting of oats, hemp seeds, barley, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, lentils, millet, amaranth, nutritional yeast, kelp and flax.  Throughout the day she gets a small amount of treats.  Her favorite foods are mashed potatoes, cranberries and yams.  She also likes bananas, mushrooms, apples and yogurt.

Does she get bored in the house? 

I was worried about that so I thought of things that I could do to occupy her. When she is outside she pecks at the dirt and the greens the entire time.  So I made her a planter box that I filled with soil for days that she can’t go outside.  I hide dried meal worms, sprouts and greens in there to keep her entertained.  She seems to like it!

Is she social? What is her personality like? 

She loves to follow us around the house.  Chickens are flock animals and we have become her flock.  She doesn’t like to be alone and we do the best we can to be with her at all times when we are home. She is incredibly sweet and loving.  It amazes me the ability that animals have to forgive after enduring so much abuse.  She trusts humans again and its a beautiful thing.

Does she like being held or pet? 

When she was sick all that she wanted was to be held.  Now, I think being held reminds her of being sick so she would rather not be picked up.  But she does love to snuggle.  She will sit in our laps as well.  She loves getting pet on her back and under her chin.  She actually will fall asleep if you stroke under her chin.

Enjoy this video of Penelope enjoying her first christmas!IMG_1221

Penelope Update

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. IMG_0792


IMG_0785 At the Wild Bird Fund they were able to heal the infection with antibiotics but unfortunately she lost her vision in that eye.

healed eye

healed eye

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.IMG_1061   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.  IMG_0912

We bathed her in our sink IMG_0926


 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.

She would panic at night especially, but I found that the more that I held her or had my hand on her back she was calm.  So I slept with her in my arms on the couch many nights.  IMG_1046


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.  IMG_0920

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.  IMG_0988

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.

IMG_1012 She was very frustrated that she couldn’t walk but her determination was so powerful to watch.

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.