Sanctuary Gives New Beginning to Chicken Rescued from Religious Ritual

This article first published on Care2.com

Recently as I pulled away from a toll booth on the New York State Thruway I noticed what looked like white feathers blowing across my windshield. Sure enough, when I glanced to my right there was a truck bed stacked high with flat crates each crammed full of live chickens. It was about 90 degrees outside and I couldn’t imagine the pain, fear and confusion of these poor innocent birds as they were driven to slaughter.

thought about the suffering of chickens again when just a few days later I received an “Emergency Care for the Beloved Birds” email alert from Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. This awesome sanctuary located in High Falls, NY is in desperate need of donations to help cover the cost of emergency care for 14 chickens who survived the annual Kaporos ritual that ended last week in Brooklyn, NY.

Kaporos is a ritual celebrated by some ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities on public streets of Brooklyn prior to Yom Kippur. Practitioners symbolically transfer their sins to a young rooster or hen by swinging the bird around his or her head while reciting a passage and then killing the chicken. Many communities choose to use money instead of live birds but a number persist in this cruel practice.

The Use of Chickens in Kaporos Ritual Condemned by Rabbis

“Using chickens not only violates 15 laws and regulations including public health codes, sanitation laws, child labor laws, slaughterhouse regulations and animal cruelty laws, but also several mandates and imperatives from the Torah and Talmud,” said Rina Deych, a founding member of the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos.

According to the alliance, this use of chickens has been condemned as unethical and contrary to the spirit of Jewish tradition by dozens of Orthodox rabbis all over the world. It has been deemed a health hazard by a well-respected toxicologist for putting New York residents and visitors at risk of contracting E. coli, Salmonella and other transmittable diseases.

Despite the protests, the annual ritual continues in New York City. This year an estimated 60,000 baby chickens suffered the trauma of transportation from factory farms to Brooklyn where they spent five days crammed inside crates stacked on the side of the streets. According to the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, an estimated several thousand died of starvation, dehydration, exposure and injury, and their bodies were discarded like trash into garbage bags and dumpsters.

When the ritual finally began, the young chickens who survived and were now weak from lack of food and water were held by their fragile wings—painfully pinned together behind their backs—and swung over the heads of the practitioners. In some cases, the chicken’s bones snapped during this horrific practice.

“Animal activists who were on the streets protesting said it was heartbreaking to hear the chickens peeping in terror and pain,” said Rachel McCrystal, executive director of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. “These were all babies stacked in those crates on the streets of New York. They were confused and calling for their moms.”

Chickens Experience Compassion for First Time in Their Lives

Activists managed to rescue about 200 chickens. These precious birds are now experiencing compassion and kindness for the first time in their lives at local sanctuaries. Rehabilitation at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary includes around-the-clock care. These birds were being raised for the meat industry so their bodies were genetically manipulated for faster growth. According to the sanctuary, at between 5 and 7 weeks of age factory farm chickens spend 76 to 86 percent of their time lying down due to lameness and deformity.

“This is the issue we are dealing with now with the rescued chickens,” McCrystal said. “Their legs can’t hold the weight of their bodies.”

caregiverholdingchickenImage courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Caregivers are working to strengthen the chickens’ legs with physical therapy. Specially designed rubber bands are being used to help straighten their legs. And there are other problems, too. Chickens are tossed or stuffed into crates at the factory farm before being loaded onto trucks. Many birds suffer bruising, broken bones, dislocation and hemorrhage during catching and crating. Once on the trucks, chickens are subjected to further overcrowding, trampling and suffocation; food and water deprivation for up to 28 hours; noise, vibration and motion stress; and often grueling temperature extremes.

Among the survivors now living at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary are Rebecca and Bianca. Rebecca is sick from the conditions she was raised in on the factory farm but will recover. One of Bianca’s wings was severely broken during transportation and had to be amputated. She is doing well following her surgery.

“Bianca is a sweet, spunky and loving chicken who is developing a bond with her caregivers,” McCrystal said.

chickenwithcollaraftersurgeBianca had to have a wing amputated after being rescued from the Kaporos ritual in Brooklyn, NY. She is recovering in her stylish Elizabethan collar at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

Image courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Bianca had to have a wing amputated after being rescued from the Kaporos ritual in Brooklyn, NY. She is recovering in her stylish Elizabethan collar at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

It’s hard to imagine that after the cruel treatment these birds received that they would ever trust humans again. Just how quickly rescued animals do trust depends on the individual animal, McCrystal said. The rescued chickens are already starting to bond with sanctuary caregivers.

“Chickens are like dogs and cats—they enjoy cuddling and sitting on laps and make great animal companions,” McCrystal said. “One of the caregivers took our rooster, Clyde, home for a few nights and he sat on the couch beside her watching ‘Game of Thrones’”

To learn more about The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary or to help with the emergency care of the  Beloved Birds rescued from the Kaporos ritual in Brooklyn, NY visit their website.

Horse Racing is Not a Sport: It’s the Exploitation of Animals

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In “A Day at the Saratoga Race Course: 10 Ways to feel like an Insider” that published on NYup.com, readers are advised to take in at least one race at the finish line because “…not only can you try to spy celebrities in the clubhouse off to the right, it’s a great place to experience the race – the guy with the bugle, the roaring crowd, the straining jockeys, the thundering hooves of the horses.”

I agree that racegoers should pay close attention to the homestretch. Not to experience the excitement of the chase but to see how jockeys thank horses for running their hearts out by whipping them 15 to 20 times before they reach the finish line. As for those who enjoyed the races at Saratoga Springs this summer, I would like them to consider that 19 horses died. They included Angels Seven who was pulled up in the race due to an injury to the left front leg and was euthanized on the track; Brooklyn Major who collapsed and died after the finish of a race; and Fall Colors who fell at the second fence and died on the track. Horse racing is not a sport it’s the exploitation of animals for entertainment and profit.

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The Benefits of Adopting a Pair of Kittens

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Reed and Rowan, 6-month-old purring machines, are the longest residents at the Clifton Animal Shelter in New Jersey. The siblings were brought to the shelter with their mom and two brothers who have all gone to forever homes.

Photo courtesy of Clifton Animal Shelter  

“We call them the dream team. They sleep on top of one another, and they purr while sleeping, eating and playing,” said Liz Taranda, vice president of the shelter and cat room manager. “They are lap cats who love to be held together while giving nose rubs to whoever is holding them.”

The brothers are bonded and will only be adopted into the same home. It’s not unusual for shelters and rescue groups to encourage potential adopters to adopt a pair of kittens rather than going home with one cat.

The Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue in San Jose, CA, requires that young kittens be adopted in pairs unless adopters have an existing kitten or young cat at home. According to the shelter, this policy is not based on a desire to increase adoptions but rather to ensure that kittens are adopted into homes that offer the best possible environment for their social development.

There are many benefits to adopting kittens in pairs

Besides saving two lives, there are many advantages to adopting kittens in pairs. Kittens tend to need more time and attention than adult cats and two together will keep each other company. The acclimation to a new home will go smoother, too, because a bonded pair of kittens won’t need separate transitional rooms. All they require is one litter box and two dishes (also true when adopting an older bonded pair of cats).

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Is Crate Training Cruel? Here’s What Some Experts Have to Say

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One of my dog walking clients recently adopted a 3-year-old Italian greyhound who wasn’t housebroken. He peed and pooped all over her house, and the rescue group where she adopted him suggested that she use crate training to housebreak her newest family member. Because my client works full time she called me in to walk the greyhound during the day. We had fun on our long walks and he willingly returned to his crate with a favorite treat and toy to settle down and relax until his “mom” returned home.

Everything was going according to plan except for one problem—my client wasn’t happy. Crating filled her with guilt as she thought it would traumatize her dog.

So, is crating cruel or is it an effective training tool?

The use of a crate as a training tool is controversial. Many leading animal welfare groups such as the HSUS and the ASPCA believe that when used properly crating is an effective and humane training tool. Behavioral experts at the HSUS recommend crating dogs until they can be trusted not to destroy the house, and after that leaving the crates around as a place where dogs can go voluntarily. Other groups such as PETA believe that crating is cruel and has become a popular “convenience practice” that is often used on adult dogs.

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Rescued Greyhounds Give Sense of Purpose to Prison Inmates

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In addition to writing about pets, I have the pleasure of working as a dog walker and pet sitter. Among my clients is Spring, who was adopted from Greyhound Friends of New Jersey (GFNJ), and is a graduate of the group’s Prison Foster Program. This wonderful program that is located at the Mountainside Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale, NJ, celebrated its 15th year anniversary in May 2017 and to date has graduated approximately 822 greyhounds.


Photo courtesy of Greyhound Friends of New Jersey 

In 2011, GFNJ was inducted into the New Jersey Animal Hall of Fame for the positive impact the Prison Foster Program has had on the retired racing greyhounds and the participating inmates.

“It’s a great program that’s a win-win for the dogs and the inmates,” said Susan Smith, a retired corrections sergeant, who has volunteered as the coordinator of the prison foster program for almost 10 years. “It allows us to take more dogs and it provides the inmates with an opportunity to care for the dogs and develop new skills.”

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How to Make Ocean-Friendly Choices for Your Saltwater Aquarium

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Nearly all fish living in saltwater aquarium tanks began their lives thousands of miles away on warm tropical reefs, according to For the Fishes (FTF), a nonprofit working to protect the future of reefs and wildlife. Many of these fragile fish die before reaching aquariums from poisoning, the stress of captivity or the inhumane practices used in handling and transport to the pet store.

“Most people have no idea that the saltwater fish they are buying for their aquarium were captured in the wild,” said Rene Umberger founder and executive director of FTF and a consultant to the HSUS and Humane Society International on coral reef wildlife issues. “Aquarium hobbyists automatically assume that they are buying fish that were bred in captivity.”


Image credit: Thinkstock

According to FTF, only 2 percent of fish species kept in saltwater tanks can be bred in captivity. The other 98 percent are among the most trafficked animals in the world. They are captured on reefs depleted and degraded from overfishing and cyanide use and exposed to ill treatment leading to prolonged suffering and premature death. On many tropical reefs, methods of wild capture include the illegal use of cyanide as a stunning agent, puncturing of organs, spine cutting and starvation prior to transport.

 “It’s almost impossible to breed saltwater fish, which is why there are fewer than 60 species that are commercially available out of the 2,500 marine fish species that the U.S. currently imports for the aquarium industry,” Umberger said.

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Do Our Pets Really Benefit from Supplements? Here’s What the Experts Have to Say

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Our late Rottweiler mix, Lucy, was diagnosed with chronic hip dysplasia when she was only 4 years old. After researching ways to help her I learned that joint supplements containing the ingredients chondroitin and glucosamine seem to help some dogs with joint issues. Following a discussion with my veterinarian, I started Lucy on two pills a day. I don’t know if they helped her, but she joined us on walks and hikes until we finally lost her at age 15.


Joint supplements containing the ingredients chondroitin and glucosamine seem to help Lucy who had chronic hip dysplasia. 

Now we think that our 10-year-old border collie mix, Jason, is showing signs of arthritis. Once the vet confirms this, we’ll ask if we should put him on the same supplements we used for Lucy? We’re not alone in considering the use of pet supplements. According to market researcher Packaged Facts, projected retail sales for pet supplements and nutraceutical treats in the U.S. are expected to grow through 2017, to an estimated $1.6 billion.

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) describes pet supplements as products that are intended to complement the diet and help support and maintain a normal biological function. Products range from multivitamins for overall health to targeted formulas that claim to alleviate joint problems or canine cognitive dysfunction.

Do Our Pets Really Benefit From the Addition of Supplements in Their Diets?

The most commonly used pet supplements are multivitamins, joint supplements and fatty acids. Veterinary experts agree that glucosamine/chondroitin supplements if they are of good quality, may have modest benefits in some animals with arthritis. And fish oil supplements may be beneficial for pets with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease and cancer. However, even these common supplements have potential side effects and are not right for every dog and cat with these conditions. As for multivitamin supplements, veterinary experts say that pets do not need these unless they are on a nutritionally unbalanced diet.

“A healthy dog and cat on a well-regulated commercial pet food that has been carefully designed by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist will be getting all the vitamins and minerals they need,” said Laura Eirmann, a veterinary nutritionist at Oradell Animal Hospital. Complete and balanced pet foods are made to give pets the right amount of nutrients and adding more could be harmful to your pet Eirmann said. For example, giving too much calcium to a large breed puppy can lead to skeletal diseases.

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Why You Should Never Release Pets Into the Wild

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While it’s illegal to release non-native species into the wild, many pet owners who no longer want their pets will turn them loose. Releasing unwanted pets into the wild is both cruel and bad for the environment. Domestic rabbits, ferrets, rats and mice and aquarium fish have all been released to fend for themselves — often leading to either their death or disastrous environmental consequences.

The release of exotic pets in Florida is such a huge problem that the Department of Fish Game and Wildlife created an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day where pet owners can surrender unwanted pets without penalty.

Here’s a list of popular pets that people often consider releasing into the wild and why they shouldn’t: 

Ferrets

There’s a common misconception that domesticated ferrets are wild animals and can fend for themselves if turned loose. That’s not true. According to the American Ferret Association, Inc., ferrets were domesticated by humans as early as 63 BCE and shouldn’t be confused with the black-footed wild ferret. If a domesticated ferret is turned loose into the wild he or she will rarely survive more than a few days.

What to do instead: Reach out to a local shelter to see if it will accept and rehome your ferret. The Ferrets Rescue Shelter Directory provides a global list of shelters and rescues dedicated to finding new homes for ferrets.


Image credit: Thinkstock

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Puppy Mill Survivors Serve as Comforters, Role Models and Ambassadors

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Pomegranate, was 9 years old and carrying nine dead pups when she was rescued from an Amish puppy mill by the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. (RBARI) in Oakland, NJ. The Pomeranian had just three teeth left, a heart condition caused from over breeding and feet splayed out with nails that grow up instead of out.

“She had lived her whole life outside in a rabbit cage with hundreds of other dogs,” said Frannie D’Annunzio, Volunteer Manager at RBARI, who adopted Pomegranate. “The cages were those typically found in puppy mills with wire bottoms so that the poop falls out and no one ever has to clean them. The food is thrown into the cages and the only time the doors are open is for breeding purposes or to take the pups away from their mothers.”

For two years when the other dogs in the household ran towards D’Annunzio, Pomegranate ran in the opposite direction. Today, she’s eager to jump in her “mom’s” lap and serves as a “therapy dog” for new rescues and sick dogs and helps socialize new puppy mill rescues at the shelter. Several RBARI adopters have reported that their rehabilitated puppy mill survivors serve as comforters and role models for newly-rescued mill dogs as they acclimate to life in their new homes.

“I foster hospice dogs and puppy mill rescues and Pomegranate is always the first to run up and comfort them when I bring them home,” D’Annunzio said. “Most recently I brought home a 19-year-old hospice Chihuahua, Cupcake, and Pomegranate immediately jumped into the bed beside her. It’s so heartwarming to see her in action.”

Pomegranate comforting cupcake, a hospice foster.
Image credit: Frannie D’Annunzio

Adopt Don’t Shop

According to the Puppy Mill Project, two million puppies are bred annually in an estimated 10,000 mills across the United States, and 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Adult dogs who can no longer breed are typically discarded or killed after they have served their purpose.

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Looking to Adopt a Fish? Here’s How to Find Fish in Need of Homes

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You adopted your dog and cat from a local animal shelter and now you would like to add an aquarium to your home. As an animal welfare advocate, you wonder if it’s possible to adopt a fish? The answer is yes but you may have to do a little more research to find fish in need of a home. You’ll also need to decide on the type of aquarium you want to keep.

“Adopting fish is a great idea,” said Ted Colletti, a member of the North Jersey Aquarium Society (NJAS) and author of The Tub Pond Handbook and Aquarium Care of Livebearers. “Fish are animals too. They may not be cuddly like dogs or cats, but they can still feel discomfort and suffer from neglect just like others pets.”

Experts say first-time aquarium hobbyists should focus on freshwater fish. Before rushing out to adopt your fish it’s important that you learn everything you can about the proper care and size and maintenance of tanks. Many clubs like the NJAS hold monthly meetings, welcome beginners and are eager to share their knowledge on fish keeping.

Where to find homeless fish

Petco’s “Think Adoption First” policy extends to fish with some stores offering fish for adoption on an “as available” basis. The fish are surrendered by owners who no longer want them and can be viewed in adoption tanks at the store. There isn’t a formal application process for adopting surrendered fish, instead, adopters are asked to fill out a standard animal care form and are educated on the care of the fish before taking them home.

Some shelters offer fish for adoption

Petfinder.org is a great place to being your search for shelter fish. Choose Scales, Fins & Others from the “Type” drop-down menu. If a specific location doesn’t show fish in need of homes, go to the advanced search box and choose “anywhere.” This will show you fish for adoption nationwide and you can search for shelters within driving distance. Some humane societies and rescue groups will ship fish to adopters.

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