It was the Thursday before Memorial Day, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, when we got the call: 60 “broiler” chickens had fallen off a transport truck headed for a Brooklyn live market (storefront slaughterhouses where animals are killed and sold on-site). Transport accidents like these are common with farm animals; just last year we rescued 87 so-called broilers who had fallen off a truck on the Staten Island Expressway.
Just as common are the deplorable transport conditions: Birds jam-packed – typically without food or water — into several tiers of plastic crates with feces and debris raining down on those positioned below. And in the rush to get this “cargo” to its destination, drivers don’t always check to ensure straps are properly locked down, and so the crates fall off the trucks, generally without the driver even noticing.
Living beings, like these chickens, get less care in transport than inanimate objects like boxes of cereal or crackers. It is a harrowing experience for the birds, many of whom die from the physical and psychological stress before they ever reach the slaughterhouse, or suffer broken wings from rough handling. This is the second group of birds that Animal Care & Control of New York City has saved from transport accidents in the past 12 months. And we are glad to take in this new group of chickens for whom we will now care and treat as individuals. These birds are someone, not something and deserve the best we can give.