2016 marks our 26th year of dedicated activism for chickens, turkeys and other domestic fowl. A quarter of a century ago, some well-meaning but mistaken people told me that an organization dedicated to helping “poultry” would never succeed because people “weren’t ready.” But effective activism is about making people ready, and this is what we have done and will continue doing in the year ahead and beyond, thanks to your support!
In the previous issue of Poultry Press, we introduced you to Gabby and Felix, two chickens who shared their life at our sanctuary. Felix, whose handsome face is featured on our holiday greeting card, fell out of the truck that was taking him to a slaughterhouse here on the Eastern Shore in July. Luckily, a passerby gathered him off the road and brought him to our veterinarian. His smashed wing had to be amputated, but following his surgery he settled into our kitchen and we named him Felix, which means “happy.”
A month later, in August, we adopted a baby chick from Maryland named Gabby. She too had been saved by a kind person, and now Felix and Gabby were inseparable companions in our kitchen. Bred for the chicken industry, Felix, though less than two months old the same as Gabby, was many times her size, and while she scampered around him, to his delight – he could barely stand up on his own two legs.
Friday morning, September 4, I rejoiced at how happy Felix and Gabby were with each other. She was nestled on his back and he sat quietly. I walked into my office and started working. Suddenly, a commotion erupted.
Gabby came running in. She had never done that before. Not once had she ever left Felix until this moment. She peeped frantically. I jumped off my chair and followed her. She raced into the kitchen, peeping loudly.
I looked at the quilt where she and Felix were sitting together a few minutes before, and he was not on it. Where was Felix? I turned the corner, and found him lying on the floor, dead. Gabby had witnessed her friend dying of a heart attack. And she had run to tell me that something terrible had just happened to Felix in front of her eyes.
Chickens like Felix are frail and weak despite an appearance of size and strength. The day before he died, I’d placed Felix gently in a little garden outside my window with Gabby beside him in her birdcage. Felix stood up on the ground and even took a few steps, and he plucked and ate a lot of grass, all the while making those happy sounds that chickens make, and I thought, “Maybe he’s going to be all right after all.”
But the next day, Felix was dead and Gabby had lost her friend.
I tell you this story about our dear Felix, in his honor, and in memory of the happiness that he and Gabby shared in our sanctuary. And I wanted to tell you how Gabby, though a little chick who had never before run into my office, knew exactly where to find me when she needed to. She implored me with her loud peeps to follow her into the kitchen and see what a terrible thing had befallen Felix. And she found comfort in my quick response to her cries for help.
So with our eyes always focused on expanding the ethic of compassion toward these sensitive and intelligent birds, we urge you please to help us continue fighting for them. Your generous tax-deductible gift to United Poultry Concerns will enable us to pursue and achieve our goals in 2016.
From all of your feathered friends & staff at United Poultry Concerns, we wish you a happy New Year! Gabby sends her love!
Karen Davis, PhD