Chick Was Going To Be Put Down, But Got A Tiny Cast Instead
When a classroom of young students realized the baby chicks they had been raising as part of their school's chick hatching project would soon be leaving them, they were devastated.
They had fallen in love with the chicks, whom they watched hatch from eggs supplied by a local farm, so the teachers at Mary Kay McMillin school in New Jersey stepped up to find a safe place to take them.
Luckily, Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary offered to take two of the chicks.
"To me, it's like having a puppy birthing project in your classroom and sending the puppies back to the puppy mill," Gabrielle Stubbert, president and cofounder of Tamerlaine in Montague, New Jersey, told The Dodo. Founded in 2014 along with her husband Peter Nussbaum, the organization is home to more than 120 chickens, turkeys and pigs.
Stubbert receives many calls for failed chick hatching projects, and tries to educate and provide alternatives that are humane and educational at the same time. Many schools contract with farms that will drop off everything needed for the project. But, once the chickens are hatched, the farm will come and collect them, according to Stubbert.
Tamerlaine focuses on getting the word out about how chickens are the most abused animals in the factory farming system. "They are the most disposable animal in the world," Stubbert said. Tamerlaine took in Peeps on March 5, along with her brother Piper. The pair often snuggles together and the two birds are quite protective of one another.
"Peeps was born with a slipped tendon, and her leg sticks out at a weird angle, almost as if it's broken," Stubbert said. "Nobody was willing to take her." She would most likely be euthanized if sent back to the farm, according to Stubbert.
So, Stubbert took Peeps to a local veterinarian who made her a splint, but it was obvious Peeps would need surgery to repair her leg. Stubbert also contacted three avian specialists and sent her X-rays to the expert at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Everyone said there was no way to fix the leg with surgery. After many discussions, Stubbert and her staff decided amputation was best for Peeps' quality of life. "Our local vet thought Peeps was a great candidate for amputation since she was perfectly healthy in every other way," Stubbert said.
"By this time, everybody had fallen in love with her. She has a huge personality," Stubbert said. "She's just really sweet. She falls asleep in the arms of her caretakers. You can't not fall in love with her."
On April 5, a local vet, Dr. Sherri Talbot-Valerio, performed surgery at Branchville Country Veterinary Clinic in Branchville, New Jersey.
"Not only does she do surgery on chickens, she has come up with inventive things for us when we've had problems," Stubbert said.
Peeps did very well post-surgery. She is doing much better and is not in pain any longer. Talbot-Valerio made a temporary prosthetic leg until Peeps is large enough for a permanent one.
"Peeps has a way to go to heal, but she is fine already, and walking way better than she did," Stubbert said. Her leg doesn't stick out at a weird angle anymore, and she is much more mobile.
"We have a kind of wounded warriors ward here with quite a few chickens who live in the chicken hospital," Stubbert said. "There's an area to go outside during the day so they can do as much chicken scratching in the dirt as possible, and they have a great life."
"We say chickens are amazing," she added. "Just as amazing as dogs. They come inside and hang out with our dogs. They have incredible personalities, and are just as interesting and smart as pigs and goats and cows and sheep. There's no hierarchy here. We put as much effort into a chicken as we put into any other animals."
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Watch Peeps' journey to date: