LAPD officers were performing a narcotics bust when they discovered 68 hens teeming with parasites and suffering from untreated wounds. These neglected birds were used to breed roosters for cockfighting and, like many chickens seized from such operations, the hens faced euthanasia. Learning of their predicament, however, we offered them sanctuary. After welcoming the flock to Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres in Acton, we found a home for 42 of the hens with a fellow rescue organization and kept the remaining 26 with us for ongoing care.
The hens were in rough shape, infested with coccidia, lice, tapeworms, and roundworms. The stressful conditions of the breeding operation had driven some of them to fight, resulting in severe injuries. Two hens, Rosalind and Ursula, each were missing an eye. With an entire side of her face wounded and swollen, Paulina was in danger of becoming partially blind herself. Following a prompt visit to the vet, we cleaned and applied ointment to her wound three times a day as she convalesced. The TLC paid off: This sweet, amiable girl has healed and now can see just fine with both eyes. Rosalind and Ursula also received treatment to prevent their injured faces from becoming infected, and despite their impairments, both are thriving as well. Ursula is goofy and easy-going, while Rosalind, though relaxed with humans, is rather bossy with her fellow hens.
A shy hen named Regan was clearly suffering from a leg injury when she arrived at the shelter. A veterinary examination revealed that her leg was broken in four to five places. Through diligent care during her recovery, however, we were able to keep blood flowing to all parts of the leg and make sure that the bone mended straight. When her leg was finally healed, Regan was able to rejoin her friends in the flock, and she was overjoyed to amble with them outside and take dust baths.
The hens are still receiving treatment for parasites, but they are all well enough to thoroughly enjoy their new home. The mood is never dull in this spunky, talkative flock, whose members love to bask in the sun, socialize, and explore.
These hens were the victims of an illegal and violent enterprise, but the hardship they endured is not so different than that suffered by hens in the legal and institutionalized brutality industry of egg production. Both forms of exploitation derive from the attitude that animals are objects to be used rather than fellow creatures to be respected. Despite their sad beginnings, all Farm Sanctuary’s rescued birds now live only for their own joy.