Winter Spring 2007 - 2008 Poultry Press

Mary Britton Clouse of Chicken Run Rescue Joins UPC’s Advisory Board

Photo by: Chicken Run Rescue
Vincent Atlas and Mary

Exposure of veterinary and animal control professionals to personal contact with chickens has been met with enthusiasm and new respect for the birds. -- Mary Britton Clouse

We are pleased to announce that Mary Britton Clouse, artist and founding director of Chicken Run Rescue, has joined our Board of Advisors. The following article appeared in Animal Rights Coalition News Fall 2007.

How Chicken Run Rescue Hatched
by Mary Britton Clouse

Chicken Run Rescue . . . Where Non-Violence Begins at Breakfast

Every year, domestic fowl, mostly chickens, are impounded by Minneapolis Animal Control (MAC). These birds are victims of neglect, abuse, and abandonment, sometimes used as a source of eggs or intended for slaughter, fighting, or ritual sacrifice. Some are the discarded outcome of “nature lessons” for children or a hobby that no longer holds interest. After their release from MAC, Chicken Run Rescue provides the birds with temporary shelter and veterinary care, locates and screens adopters within 90 miles of the Twin Cities, and transports the birds to their new homes.

The evolution of Chicken Run Rescue has been as unlikely as it was inevitable – shaped each step of the way by the conviction that every animal has a right to a life of their own that is of importance to them apart from their usefulness to us. The unlikely aspect was that my husband Bert and I live in the inner city and neither of us had ever held a chicken before. Our beliefs made Chicken Run Rescue inevitable once we discovered that chickens needed help and had no one else.

Chicken Run Rescue is the only urban chicken rescue organization in existence. This is remarkable and tragic since chickens represent the most abused land animals on the planet both in terms of sheer numbers and magnitude of suffering.

My first involvement with chickens came in 2000. An installation at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts included two live chickens, Mabel and Scout, who were to hang in a cage on a wall for the duration of the exhibit. As a visual artist, I was disturbed by the increasing use of animals as inanimate art objects for the shock value. United Poultry Concerns and local activists mounted a vigorous campaign and the birds were removed from the show. Joined by several other local animal activist artists, Justice for Animals Arts Guild was formed to promote artists who value the rights of animals and to protest art that harms or exploits animals.

In 2001, Minneapolis Animal Control seized 13 Thai roosters in a cockfighting bust. We learned that MAC routinely impounded domestic fowl and, with rare exceptions, euthanized them as they had nowhere for them to go. Since I was known to the management of MAC through my work with the Minnesota Spay Neuter Project, they allowed me to find homes for six of the roosters (seven had to be euthanized due to injuries). The next time a chicken came in, they called to see if we could place her and the rest is history.

Photo by: Chicken Run Rescue
Pa Zsa, Nicky, Bing Bong and Olive join friend Bert

As the number of incoming birds increased, we needed to make a long-term commitment to continue the work. Bert and I built a coop, added fenced pens to our backyard, and applied for a City poultry permit to house the birds at our home. We can’t imagine a life without them now, and they are welcome residents in our neighborhood. We have seven permanent family members now and average about four additional fosters at a time.

Every bird is an individual, so I write personal profiles and photograph each bird, creating a database of history, health, and adoption records. Through the Chicken Run Rescue Adoption Chronicles emailed to list members and a website on PetFinders, we connect available birds with potential adopters. At this writing we have placed over 233 birds using rigorous adoption screening standards.

Chickens and other domestic fowl deserve the same standard of care as other companion animals, so we have developed a list of veterinarians willing to provide chicken care. Exposure of veterinary and animal control professionals to personal contact with chickens has been met with enthusiasm and new respect for the birds. We receive daily inquiries about care and behavior from all over the country.

Our promotion of chickens as companion animals is an effort to introduce them to the world as individuals and cause people to examine why some animals are “pets” and others are “meat.” Each year in the U.S., over 10 billion chickens suffer from intensive confinement, cruel handling, and painful terrifying deaths. “Free range” and “cage free” birds live much the same tortured lives and meet the same horrific fate as their factory farmed cousins at the same slaughter plants. Changing how the world treats animals ought to start with the ones hanging off the end of a fork.

Please join Chicken Run Rescue and United Poultry Concerns in recognizing May as International Respect for Chickens Month. We invite you to capture the beauty, joy, intelligence, dignity, agility and zany exuberance of your birds in a photograph. Each year, twelve winning photos will be published in a Chicken Run Rescue Calendar and winners will receive a free calendar. All of the proceeds of the calendar sales will enable Chicken Run Rescue to continue to help chickens for another year. To order your 2008 calendar, go

For more information about Chicken Run Rescue and how you can help, please visit:

Winter Spring 2007- 2008 Poultry Press