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Ocean Pines resident Marlene Behrend has found her calling. She stops and rescues chickens that have fallen off poultry trucks along Route 113/Page B1

Sunday, February 18, 2001 - Salisbury, MD

Assisting injured fowl

When chickens fall off trucks on Shore roadways,
two women stop to help

By Dan Valentine
Daily Times Staff Writer
Page B1

BERLIN — For Marlene Behrend, a chicken in the road is no joke.

The 64-year-old Ocean Pines resident is compelled to stop and rescue chickens that have fallen off poultry trucks along Route 113.

"We just feel we can't drive by," she said.

It's a difficult job. Often the chickens are bleeding and broken, unable to move from where they have fallen. Behrend said the suffering she sees is tough to take.

"It's an emotional thing," she said. "The whole thing is just horrible for me. It's just a grisly thing to do."

And it's happening far too often, she said. Very rarely does a week go by that she doesn't encounter at least one chicken on the short stretch of Route 113 she travels. Last week, she found three.

In fact, it's happening so often that Behrend keeps pet carriers in the back seat of her car to make traveling with the fowl easier as she transports them to the nearby Berlin Animal Hospital for treatment.

Suzanne Rosenthal, who works at the Berlin veterinarian clinic, has come to Behrend by name. Most times, the birds are so badly hurt that all the doctors can do is put them to sleep. Occasionally, they'll find one that can be fixed up.

[Picture of Pattrice Holding a Chicken] Times Photos by Autumn W. Collins
[Picture of a rooster and a chicken] Above, Pattrice Jones holds
one of four chickens brought
by Marlene Behrend to the sanctuary she operates at
her home in Princess Anne.
At left is Charlie, a rooster
she rescued, with a chicken.

Rosenthal agrees that northern Worcester County, which is home to poultry processing plants for Tyson Inc. are Perdue Farms, has been getting a rash of chickens on the road.

"We've gotten quite a few," she said. "I've picked up quite a few myself. Anywhere you drive, you see them smashed."

But stopping to care for them is an expensive prospect. Behrend said she's spent more than $70 in the past three months on medical costs for the chickens.

Sometimes they pull through. The survivors end up at the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, a nonprofit group started by Pattrice Jones.

Like Behrend, Jones became upset by the birds she found on the roads. She began taking them in, and now her back yard and garage in Princess Anne are a roost for more than 70 birds.

"We found a chicken on the side of the road," Jones recalls. "We made some calls and found that there was no place to take him."

Jones admits that the cost of keeping chickens is high, but she's happy to do it.

"It's certainly no worse than the fate that awaits them at the end of the ride," she said. "In my mind, the chickens who fall off are the lucky ones."

Behrend said her roadside encounters have caused her to rethink her view on poultry.

"As I held one of those injured birds in my arms, I was overcome with guilt," Behrend said. "I realize that chickens are killed for food consumption, but I don't believe that any living creature should be left on the side of the road to die slowly and painfully."

Behrend said she's been calling Tyson and Perdue to try and convince the companies to change their transport methods, asking them to replace latches and cover the trucks. She's also sent letters to the Maryland Department of Agriculture and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"I want them to stop it. I know they can stop it," she said.

Meanwhile, as long as she keeps seeing them, Behrend said she'll continue picking up the fallen birds.

"You bet I will," she said. "They're there, they're wounded and they need help."

[Picture of Pattrice releasing a chicken] Times Photo by Autumn W. Collins Pattrice Jones releases a young chicken into a pen at her home near Princess Anne. Jones has serveral pens of chickens she has saved from death.

Reach Dan Valentine at 410-749-7171, Ext. 306 or

Pattrice Jones' Letter Printed in Response to Article

I appreciated your [02/18/01] story concerning the rescue efforts of Marlene Behrend and the work of the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary. We do encourage citizens to stop for any live chicken they see on the road and to contact United Poultry Concerns (757-678-7875) or the local Humane Society to find the nearest sanctuary that can provide the bird with a good home. Here at ESCS, we are always delighted to make room for one more.

I wish to clarify my position concerning chickens who fall from trucks. They are, indeed, the lucky ones. Those who survive the fall have at least a chance at freedom and a happy life. Those who do not survive may die a painful death, but that death is no more painful than the death that awaits at the end of the ride. Slaughter procedures at poultry factories are designed to maximize profit rather than minimize pain. Most often, having been hung from their feet and then dipped in an electrified bath, the birds are paralyzed but completely conscious as the plucking and slicing begins. These innocent young birds experience a level of pain and terror which most of us can only imagine.

That is why I say that those who fall are the lucky ones, even if they die from injuries sustained in the fall. Better to die having experienced at least a moment of fresh air and freedom than to die on the factory line, having never once seen the sky.

I know that seeing dead birds on the roadway can be upsetting. Reality often is. The poultry industry is built upon the broken backs of helpless birds and it serves no earthly or spiritual purpose for us to deceive ourselves about that. Yes, the poultry industry makes a lot of money but that does not make it right. The cocaine industry makes a lot of money too but that does not stop us from demanding that those who profit from it find other ways of making a living.

And who really profits from the poultry industry, anyway? The farmers who give up their autonomy in order to "grow" birds under the strict supervision of a powerful poultry corporation, receiving relatively paltry compensation in return? The chicken catchers and factory workers who do the bloody and dirty work for low wages so that industry executives and stockholders can rake in the profits with clean hands? Our children, who eat the wings of birds as snacks, and are thereby taught that it's okay to kill for pleasure? No, it is wealthy families like the Purdues and wealthy stockholders invested in corporations like Tyson who reap the real benefits.

I hope that someday we will see the error of our ways and stop treating animals and the environment like playthings. I hope that someday there will be no more poultry trucks loaded down with thousands of baby birds headed for a painful death. Until then, I will cheer every chicken who falls or leaps to even a brief moment of freedom. And, I will hope that those who die by the side of the road will remind all who drive by of the brutal and bloody reality behind the pretty screen of poultry industry propaganda.

Pattrice Jones
Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary

Karen Davis' Letter Printed in Response to Article

February 19, 2001

Letters to the Editor
The Daily Times
On Times Square
115 East Carroll Street
Salisbury, MD 21801-5421

Karen Davis, President
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
12325 Seaside Road PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
Ph: 757-678-7875

Dear Editor:

Thank you for Dan Valentine's article, "Assisting injured fowl" (Feb. 18, B1-B2). I remember my first visit to Pattrice Jones' Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary in Princess Anne. It had been raining, but as I pulled up to the house, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared, and the sun shown through glistening trees on the sanctuary's beautiful white chickens, populating the woods as in a fairytale. More than a magic kingdom, it was a Peaceable Kingdom, full of radiance.

As I revisited this scene in your article, it unfolded like a flower against the ugly story about shooting pigs in the head, blessed by a pastor, for the sake of children, in "Going hog wild," on page one. One story shows people bringing something lovely into the world, the other shows people determined to ensure that their children will embrace violence and the deliberate infliction of death for reasons having nothing to do with self-defense.

People can make what they want of the Bible, since it contains images of just about everything. They can invoke Scripture to justify their personal commitment to the world of the Fall or they can do what is within their power to establish or reestablish a Garden of Eden and a place of grace, as in "Let there be peace, and let it begin with me." Each of your stories was about the human will and its capabilities.


Karen Davis
Ph: 757-678-7875

Guest Editorial Printed in Response to a Challenging Letter

I read with interest Max E. Chambers' letter ("Chicken Sanctuary Raises a Few Questions") of 03/03/01 in response to my letter ("Fallen Chickens Have Chance at Freedom") of 02/23/01. I appreciate in advance the Daily Times¹ willingness to allow me to respond to the challenges Chambers posed to me and to the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary.

Chambers is correct in surmising that I believe people should sharply curtail if not entirely eliminate their consumption of meat and other animal products. I believe this not only because I am concerned about cruelty to animals but also because I am concerned about human welfare and the environment.

Many people, like myself, do not eat meat for religious or ethical reasons. Even experts who are not morally opposed to meat eating acknowledge that people in the United States eat entirely too much meat for their own good. We would all be happier and healthier if we consumed more fruit, fresh vegetables, and grain.

The meat industries do not feed the world but, rather, contribute to the problem of world hunger. It takes, on average, seven pounds of grain and soybeans to produce only one pound of meat. Conversion of farmland devoted to the production of animal feed to the production of food for humans would have many benefits, including not only an increased food supply but also an opportunity for more sustainable and profitable agricultural practices.

Instead of vast tracts of genetically identical field corn to be sold at a low price as animal feed, farmers could grow more diversified and potentially lucrative crops intended for human consumption. A more diversified crop base would allow for the resumption of traditional agricultural practices such as crop rotation, soil development, and seed saving in order to produce locally adapted plants. These practices would reduce the need for heavy applications of fertilizer and pesticides, thus reducing costs while at the same time preserving the environment.

It is possible to feed the world without relying upon the genetically modified seeds, artificial fertilizers, and chemical pesticides marketed by companies like Monsanto, which make their money by exploiting farmers. In order to do so, we all must cooperate by changing our patterns of consumption. Ending the excessive consumption of meat and animal products would, in the long run, produce a healthier and more equitable world for everyone.

Ending the abuse of farmed animals would also produce a more peaceful world. Many people have written The Daily Times to express outrage at the recent burning of a puppy. But, what is the moral difference between a baby dog and a baby bird? Both are innocent creatures who mean us no harm. But, we allow baby birds to be abused and killed just so that some people can have the fun of eating chicken McNuggets and Buffalo wings. We allow the poultry factories to utilize unspeakably painful slaughter procedures just so that the owners of the factories can have the fun of earning a little more money per bird. How, then, can we expect our children to understand that its not okay to torture animals for fun?

At ESCS we are indeed concerned about the problem of loss of farmland. We would be delighted to work in coalition with anyone working towards the preservation and expansion of land devoted to sustainable agriculture. We also would like to see the federal Department of Agriculture devote more resources to helping independent farmers develop sustainable local practices. Too often, this and other federal agencies serve the interests of corporations like Tyson and Monsanto, rather than the interests of farmers.

Daily Times readers who are interested in learning more about the environmental and economic impact of meat, or learning how to change their own diets, might wish to read Frances Moore Lappe's classic book, Diet for a Small Planet. [OOOPS... I had completely forgotten that Lappe advocates egg eating. I will be sure to offset the error by writing an egg-related letter soon.] Technical information about agricultural biodiversity and sustainable agriculture is readily available online through any of the major search engines.

In summary, ESCS provides shelter to chickens because providing previously abused animals with a safe and happy home is a good thing to do in and of itself. Our efforts to advocate for chickens are, however, part of a comprehensive vision of the social changes needed to create a world which is not only better for animals and the environment but also better for people.

pattrice le-muire jones
Eastern Shore Chicken Sancturary