"We have people ready to come up, get the chickens, and distribute them to sanctuaries around the area where they will lead long and happy lives."
UPC President Karen Davis quoted in "
Chickens bound for pot will get to fly the
coop" by Michael Sangiacomo, The Plain
Dealer, May 2, 2001
"If you could have seen how scared they were when we first opened their cages. But when we stroked them and held them they nestled their little heads against our chests. As a vanload of chickens drove away to their new home in Connecticut, their little faces were all lined up looking out the back of the van. It broke my heart seeing those little faces."
On Saturday April 28, WOIO-TV in Cleveland, Ohio announced that West Side Poultry, a local slaughter shop, was being shut down for multiple health violations. Action resulted from United Poultry Concerns' January complaint to The Plain Dealer followed by our letter to the Cleveland Department of Public Health. We requested an immediate investigation of West Side Poultry. Why? As reported in The Plain Dealer, "Attila Balogh, a vegetarian, went to the market to buy chicken entrails as a last-ditch effort to get his dying cat to eat." According to Mr. Balogh, "'I walked in the door and I was disgusted. The smell was so horrible. I don't know how people could stand it. There were dozens of chickens jammed into cages, chirping really loud, that looked extremely neglected. How could animals live in those filthy conditions?' Balogh told his friend, Beverly Whalen of Eastlake [Ohio], who informed Cleveland health officials and United Poultry Concerns. Health inspectors checked and approved the business, but returned a second time, which led to the shutdown."
United Poultry Concerns asked the City of Cleveland to allow us to place the market's 214 chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, and rabbits in permanent homes and sanctuaries. The City agreed. On May 3rd, UPC representative Mary-Kate Grover and her daughter Bryony of Burke, Virginia drove to Cleveland where she and a Cleveland resident liberated the first group of birds and all the rabbits: 27 ducks, 4 rabbits, 41 chickens, and 1 guinea fowl left under the supervision of the Health Department surrounded by TV cameras and the press. UPC now has 40 new chickens including 11 new roosters! Some are fluffy little white or brown chickens called Silkies. Others bear the stamp of a cockfighting background. Several chickens arrived lame and ill, and one hen walks on one good leg but has only the stump of her right leg. These chickens are now receiving the care and love they need at our sanctuary, crowing and clucking at this very moment!
On May 6, UPC rescuers Franklin Wade, Liqin Cao, and Mike Radzvilowicz drove from Maryland and Connecticut to complete our removal of the rest of the birds. Oohmahnee Farm directors took many of the birds back to their Pennsylvania sanctuary. Mike took 46 chickens to live at his home in Connecticut, and Cleveland area resident Donna Robb adopted several hens.
UPC wishes to thank people from around the country who emailed to us their willingness to provide homes for as many birds and rabbits as they could. We thank the people mentioned above who drove long distances to rescue the birds and to represent UPC in overseeing the birds' safe removal according to our agreement with the City's Health Department. Our very special thanks to Mike Sangiacomo of The Plain Dealer for his interest in this story, and to Beverly Whalen, who notified UPC about West Side Poultry in January, fostering our successful campaign which we worked on together. We not only rattled some cages, we emptied them.
Would you like to sponsor a rescued West Side Poultry rooster or hen for $6 a month, $72 a year? If so, please send us your check or money order indicating the number of birds you wish to sponsor and if you have a preference for roosters or hens or both. You may pay by the month, bi-annually, or in one yearly installment. Upon receiving your sponsorship fee we will send you a color photo of your happy chicken(s), and his, her, or their names. Thank you for helping us save and care for these wonderful birds!