A trip to The Chicken Rescue
I recently visited The Chicken Rescue in Houston, the first vegan-operated nonprofit sanctuary and rescue for chickens in Texas! My trip was a delightful experience right from the start: strolling into the lot, I was immediately drawn in by the sounds of gentle clucking drifting from the barn. Happy chickens darted in and out of the grassy outdoor space, healthy red and orange feathers rustling in the breeze. I ended my visit to the animal shelter that day in gracious awe of the humbling and generous work being done to care for such neglected and abused animals.
Founded in 2016 by a long-time vegan, The Chicken Rescue operates as a non-profit organization – rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming hens and roosters. The animal shelter also strives to educate the community on the negative impacts factory farming and animal exploitation has on the animals and our environment.
The founder, Tiffany Ballou, has dedicated her life to saving chickens, and runs the shelter entirely on volunteers! These people love what they do and truly care for the animals brought into The Chicken Rescue.
The rescue comes in many forms. Sometimes, the volunteers at The Chicken Rescue physically catches roosters dumped by neglectful humans; sometimes, an owner surrenders their hen that needs medical attention due to neglect or injury.
Forrest, a white leghorn cockerel abandoned in a forest preserve in Glencoe, Illinois, was found wandering by an animal control officer. Many roosters are dumped during late summer when people realize they are not hens due to their crowing; most of these roosters never make it through the first night, falling prey to predators. Luckily, the officer was able to catch Forrest and bring him to safety at The Chicken Rescue!
Besides rescue, The Chicken Rescue also rehabilitates. They believe that to rehabilitate doesn’t mean just physical recovery, it also means an emotional revival. The volunteers at The Chicken Rescue take the time to know the animals as they are and work to understand and help them. The chickens receive the love and nourishing care they need and deserve, eventually learning how to act around humans and continue to be their bright, happy selves!
Lastly, the Chicken Rescue adopts out chickens healthy enough to be placed into private, vegan homes. The extensive application process ensures chickens are only adopted out to individuals who will treat them as a loved and cherished family member.
Many of the chickens living at The Chicken Rescue are permanent residents who have found a safe and loving home among the gracious staff and enriching environment. To keep the chickens’ mind and body healthy and active, the animals at the shelter are provided with different things to keep them busy throughout the day: safe areas to climb on, fresh fruits and veggies to peck at, hanging treat balls, among other things. These chickens truly live in fun-filled, loving, paradise.
Penny came to The Chicken Rescue severely underweight, with internal and external parasites. Her feathers were dark and dusty, and she had also lost the use of her right leg due to an infection the permanently damaged her joint tissue.
It didn’t take long for Penny to start feeling better after being placed in the caring hands of The Chicken Rescue. Penny was taken to the vet and placed immediately on an oral antibiotic and pain medications as well as treated for her internal and external parasites.
Within a couple months, Penny was back up to a normal weight, her glossy orange plumes bright and exuberant. Because she is unable to use her right leg, she is considered a special-needs chicken and requires special flock-mates.
Besides saving animals, The Chicken Rescue also strives to spread awareness of the negative impacts of factory farming and animal exploitation. Earlier this summer, the animal shelter exhibited at the VegFest Houston Vegan Community Festival of Texas. Here, the volunteers shared their knowledge of saving chickens from slaughter and abusive situations like cockfighting.
Many of the chickens at The Chicken Rescue come from fighting rings, such as Ace the rooster. In reality, Ace is not aggressive at all and loves to eat directly from the hands of the volunteers at The Chicken Rescue. During his outside time, he always prefers the dust bathing box that is in the sun. Ace was a delight to see during my visit – his rich feathers glossily sparkled in the summer sunshine and made for the most beautiful sight!
A Caring Community
The Houston community readily welcomes The Chicken Rescue, commending the founder, Tiffany Ballou, for her dauntless efforts in saving these neglected and abused animals. Donations are frequently made to the animal shelter to pay for medical expenses and equipment for the sick chickens, and adoptions of healthy chickens from caring individuals in the community are made regularly. These chickens are appreciated for the individual animals they are, not only among the staff at The Chicken Rescue but also in their community.
Egg-cited To Come Back!
The Chicken Rescue isn’t just an animal shelter for abused, neglected, or discarded chickens. It’s a safe haven, where hens and roosters may roam and peck as they please, without the limiting constraints so often placed on them by their human counterparts. These chickens are loved, cared for, and cherished as individuals; appreciated and accepted by their community.
The generous time and energy spent by the founder and volunteers at The Chicken Rescue on creating and maintaining a loving and enriching environment for these treasured animals are what makes this haven a home. I ended my day at The Chicken Rescue feeling grateful and appreciative of the hard and selfless work these volunteers provide for the abused and neglected. I left knowing these chickens were in safe hands and felt excited to return and enjoy their healthy spirits again!