The circumstances surrounding our latest rescue, an injured chicken we named Peter, remain largely a mystery. What we do know is that he was found all alone and motionless in an alley in a Northwest Chicago neighborhood, about 10 blocks from a live poultry market / slaughterhouse at Devon and Western Avenues. We know he was a Red Ranger breed of chicken, a breed commonly raised for chicken flesh products. We know that when he was discovered in the alley, he was severely injured and unable to move.
What we don’t know is how long he was on his own in this bitter cold. Did he lay there in pain, freezing, starving, and helpless for days like our miracle rescue Ezra? Nor do we know exactly how he was injured. The most likely scenario is that he fell off a truck bound for the slaughterhouse and that the impact of that fall caused him severe injury. But his injury may have also been caused by rough handling from “catchers,” who grab the birds by their legs or wings and stuff them into crates which are then loaded onto a truck. During transport to slaughter, chickens face long journeys with no food or water and exposed to the bitter cold and snow.
When we brought Peter the injured chicken in to see the avian vet, we hoped for good news, but she examined him and was decisive in her prognosis. Peter was too far gone to rehabilitate. She said he was severely emaciated and essentially “lifeless” from the neck down. He was unable to flap a wing or move a leg. No doubt he had suffered immense pain from this accident. So, we agreed that it was best to euthanize him, to spare him any further suffering. We are grateful that we discovered him in time to at least offer a few hours of compassion, and a peaceful passing.
But Peter did not live and die in vain. From Peter’s story, we can lead people to the bigger picture and ask them to consider the billions of Peters out there whom no one will ever know; suffering silently and invisibly, appearing only as abstract body parts in stores and restaurants.
Our wish in telling Peter’s story is to put a face to the billions of individuals needlessly suffering just like him, killed for egg and chicken flesh products we have no need to consume. Peter’s face shows a yearning to live, to experience kindness in his time of greatest need and vulnerability, and to be free of suffering. Isn’t that the least we could hope for, for ourselves, our loved ones, and, by extension, any feeling sentient being?
You can help us a great deal by spreading Peter’s story, and by sharing the facts about chickens raised for egg and flesh products. Please also consider making a gift to help us help more birds like Peter at http://freefromharm.org/donate. Your gift will help us in our ongoing efforts to advocate, rescue, and educate on behalf of farmed animals everywhere.