Annabelle was a heap of soaking wet chicken
when Donna Minor picked her off Interstate
20 near Anniston, Alabama, at 7:30 in the
morning on Friday, February 24. So many
chickens on the way to the slaughterhouse fall
off trucks on this highway that the sight was
not unusual, but this time, Minor said,
"the little heap raised its head" as though
struggling to keep alive. Seeing this, Minor
got off at the next exit and went back to find
the soggy bundle of feathers - wet, wounded,
and bloody - that soon would be Annabelle.
After gathering up Annabelle, Minor drove to her
friend Julie Beckham's in Atlanta, where she had
been headed for the weekend. After she had
arrived, they called United Poultry Concerns to
find out what they should feed Annabelle, how
they should treat her wounds, and where they
should take her if she survived. Her survival was
doubtful. She looked, a veterinarian would say
later, "like somebody beat her up and banged her
around a lot." Even her beak was bleeding from
the debeaking she had received.
Annabelle ("Anna" is for Anniston and "belle"
for her southern origin) was a defeated and
exhausted little bird with her head hanging
down during her first 24 hours in Atlanta.
Minor and Beckham gave her pieces of fresh
corn from the cob and cooked brown rice.
They soothed her injured legs and wings with
hydrogen peroxide. By Sunday she had
progressed to a wobbly patient perching on
the edge of her carrier. Then she started
peeping - a hopeful sign!
On Tuesday, Beckham's friend Ricardo Ferreira
drove Annabelle from Atlanta to United Poultry
Concerns in Potomac, Maryland, near Washington,
D.C. I was not prepared for such a little bird,
giving out tiny peeps, looking like a plumb white
partridge. Annabelle, who weighed just two
pounds, must have been one of those month-old
broiler chickens sold as Cornish game hens.
The next day I took Annabelle to the veterinarian,
who treated her fractured beak with surgical glue
and explained that the outer bones in both her
wings were dislocated and that she must have rest
and medication. Luckily for Annabelle, our hen
Petal was recovering from mouth surgery and had
to stay in the house and eat wet mash. Annabelle
insisted that Petal become her foster mother. At
first Petal did not seemed thrilled at having this
eager stranger snuggling up to her, crawling over
her back, and butting against her head at the food
dish. But to see them now, sitting side by side
under the kitchen table, you would say they are
family, especially when Annabelle preens Petal and
Petal closes her eyes looking for all the world as if
she were blessed with the only child she ever had.
United Poultry Concerns
P. O. Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
Karen Davis, Ph.D.
President, United Poultry Concerns
Reprinted with the kind permission of The
Animals' Agenda Volume 15, No. 3