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