United Poultry Concerns April 12, 2007

Houston TX: Deputies rescue abandoned chickens

The Courier of Montgomery County Texas
Houston Community Newspapers
Jamie Nash, Courier staff

For the second time in a month, Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable's Office Livestock Deputy Don Smith found himself in a poultry roundup after 44 abandoned chickens were discovered Tuesday.

Smith and other deputies rounded up the birds on Pollok Drive, located off Farm to Market 3083 east of Conroe. The hens will be put up for adoption, he said.

All of the chickens were tagged, making it possible to trace their origin, he said. "They looked like show chickens from the Montgomery County Fair," Smith said.

Beth Traylor, with the Montgomery County Fair Association, said the chickens were probably ordered through the organization, but there was no reason anyone would have so many at the recent show. "They're delivered in February," Traylor said. "They pick that many up here, but they only bring a few to show."

The fair ended April 1.

Area resident Robbie Love said she was out for her morning walk with her dog when she discovered the chickens. "They just came right up to me," Love said, "They scared my dog to death."

She called her husband, who contacted animal control. Love then went to buy chicken feed, since, she said, the birds were "obviously starving" and accustomed to being fed by humans. "They were so domesticated and used to other animals, my dog wasn't a threat at all," Love said.

According to Smith, whoever is responsible for dumping the chickens could be charged with 44 counts of animal cruelty, if that person is found. "They were pretty hungry and pretty thirsty," he said.

Smith said Wednesday he has the name of the person who registered the tags, but has not yet been able to make contact. He noted that there is a possibility the person who dumped the chickens may be a juvenile.

Animal cruelty is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas; however, if a person has already been convicted twice of animal cruelty, it then becomes a state jail felony, according to the Texas Penal Code. A Class A misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The penalty for a state jail felony is 180 days to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Dr. Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns Inc. in Machipongo, Va., said the number of chickens found abandoned is not uncommon, but she was surprised by the source of the chickens.

"Usually when you have a quantity like that, you have a cockfighting situation," Davis said, "It's not unusual to find 10 to 75 grossly neglected and abused chickens rounded up in that situation."

Smith and other law enforcement officials did face that situation March 12, and had the task of rounding up dozens of roosters and chickens abandoned when a cockfighting ring was discovered near Splendora.

The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was awarded those birds by Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts in a hearing; SPCA representatives said the birds bred for fighting could not be rehabilitated and would be humanely destroyed. But, the hens were put up for adoption and that is probably what will happen with the chickens found Tuesday, according to Smith.

"We hope to find good homes for them," Smith said. "That will be decided by (Precinct 2) Judge (Trey) Spikes."

Jamie Nash can be reached at jnash@hcnonline.com

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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