A guest blog by Chicken Run Rescue
Monique was our 1209th rescue who arrived last August. Like most, her story started with an email:
“Hi…a hen wandered into our garage last night. Neighbors said they’ve seen it wandering around for a few days so I don’t think it will find its way home. Has infected eye and maybe something wrong with it’s beak. What should I do with it? We can’t keep it.” Neighbors had been chasing her out of their yards and into the street. As always for stray reports, I asked for pictures of the bird and of where they were at the moment. I wept when I saw the extent of her eye infection to think of her wandering about with no food or protection and knew her options were non-existent if we didn’t step in. The event of bird flu had just resurfaced and was now considered to be endemic- here to stay- so we had to be be on high biosecurity alert to keep our residents safe. It would take some time and networking to find her a safe place to be fostered and vet care arranged.
Alumni CRR shelter helper Katie lived near her location and works at a vet clinic in that area. Better still the clinic had just hired a new vet with avian experience. We arranged to have Monique brought directly to the clinic while we scrambled to put the rest of the plan together. Katie provided temporary Foster care and Lauren drove the space shuttle to and from the vet clinic. By the end of October, her infection had cleared and our vet OK’d transfer to CRR.
Monique introduced herself to the residents here and invented using yurt roofs as hammocks and sneaking snacks when others were not looking. Resident Cheekee was indignant about that- they looked like they could be sisters. She was full of energy and thrilled she found such a fun place to live. However, 2 weeks later her infection relapsed and she had to go back to 2 more weeks of crate rest and meds.
By Thanksgiving, she had recovered completely and, like any new kid in class, was learning who might be a friend and who to avoid. She joined the living room gang and annoyed everyone with puppy playful enthusiasm for everything. She helped clean the studio, rearranged paper shreds and practiced flying to impress the others and frustrate the naysayers. She did not take one minute for granted. A week and a half later, she stopped using her left leg. Back to the doctor. No breaks- probably soft tissue injury. Cage rest for 6 weeks with pain meds. She was so unhappy about jail again. She ate well and exchanged pleasantries with the others who came to visit her yurt and indignantly thumped in her crate at night.
Weeks passed with no improvement in her use of the leg- she did not even try to compensate with her good leg and her energy started to sag. By Christmas eve, she was quiet and depressed and not interested in food. The next day she developed labored breathing. We set up our new oxygen concentrator and she miraculously made it through the night and we were able to get her to the clinic first thing next morning. She could not sustain herself so we had to say good bye. Her necropsy confirmed lymphoma induced by Marek’s Disease (https://opensanctuary.org/common-chicken-health-issues/#mareks-disease). Every inch of her body was ravaged by lymphoma. She and every other chicken who leave the hatcheries unvaccinated has it or has been exposed to it. Vaccinations must be done within hours of birth. As long as chickens are mass produced in crowded squalor, diseases like this will haunt them. Chickens are victimized in every conceivable way from cradle to grave and people don’t know or care what killed them. Just a chicken.
Monique had a blast while she was here. In her short 6 month life she experienced abandonment with a raging infection, a recovery, a relapse, a few short weeks of youthful jubilation, love and companionship, but finally a crushing blow from a common but incurable disease, Marek’s. But she was home for Christmas. Two days later, we lit our memorial candle in her honor. Nest in Peace, little one.
Thanks to everyone who helped her. Curses on those who harmed her.
Visitors to animal sanctuaries are often overwhelmed with enthusiasm to some day start their own. Every moment of every day belongs to the animals and the emotional rewards for Animal Rights Care Givers cannot be overstated. However, the emotional toll cannot be over started either, especially when a rescued animal passes away. Multiple animals in care means there will always be someone whose health is a concern or who is reaching an age where the end is imminent. Not everyone is built to withstand those extremes. Volunteering at a sanctuary is a great way to learn (https://chickenrunrescue.org/CRR-Volunteer-Corps) and Open Sanctuary Project (opensanctuary.org) is a one-of-a-kind online resource to get educated about the practicalities and realities to consider before undertaking rescue work.
Monique’s namesake is Monique A., the Donation Coordinator for Earth Breeze (https://www.earthbreeze.com), a wonderful ‘planet before profit’ company that makes detergent sheets with zero waste packaging. They support many non-profits, both animal and human, with their products. Having access to clean clothes and bedding is something that they and CRR believe everyone deserves. In the course of our mission, CRR launders an average of 180 loads per month. To understand why laundry is such an important part of our shelter care, please tour our sanctuary at http://chickenrunrescue.org/Pictorial-Tour
Check out a video of Monique at the bottom.