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Thousands of hens saved from slaughter

Animal Place on McCourtney Road spearheaded the rescue of 3,000 White Leg Horns 2-year-old chickens. On Tuesday afternoon, workers took crates of chickens out of vans and put the animals in a barn near Animal Place property.
John Hart/jhart@theunioin.com | The Union

An animal sanctuary organization based in Grass Valley conducted a comprehensive multi-day rescue mission that will spare 3,000 hens from the slaughterhouse.

The White Leghorn chickens were previously kept at a California egg farm, and after the two years of the birds’ peak egg production expired, the hens were slated to be killed.

The industry practice euphemistically referred to as “depopulating” was prevented by Animal Place, which drove vans down to the farm to extricate the birds from death row.



“We are committed to treating chickens with the same dignity and respect as other animals,” said Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place.

Chickens are often characterized by the general public as unintelligent and thus dispensable, Sturla said.




“That is not the case,” she said.

One thousand of the rescued birds will be dispatched to a sanctuary in Vacaville, while the remaining 2,000 chickens will be deployed to Animal Place’s sanctuary located off McCourtney Road in Grass Valley, Sturla said.

Eventually, 1,000 of the birds will be flown out to various sanctuaries on the East Coast.

Many of the remaining animals will be adopted out to homes with compassionate owners.

“We want people to adopt them as companion animals, but if people want to use their eggs, that is fine,” Sturla said.

The birds, which are about 2 years old, have been abused throughout the course of their young lives, Sturla said.

In conforming with practices of the egg-production industry the birds are de-beaked, in which a portion of the beak is cut off without pain relief.

The birds have spent the entirety of their lives confined to cages and several have overgrown toenails, said Marji Beach, Animal Place education director.

“For more than two years, these hens have only known the small space of a cage,” Beach said.

“Now free, they will touch the grass, feel the sun and stretch their wings for the first time.”

Animal Place has executed several large-scale hen rescues recently.

In 2012, one of the nation’s largest sanctuaries for farmed animals in the country salvaged 4,460 hens from Turlock, Calif., where two farmers reportedly left about 50,000 hens without food for more than two weeks.

The animal welfare nonprofit placed most of the rescued animals in permanent homes via its adoption program.

Since 2010, more than 8,000 chickens — most from egg farms — have been saved and repositioned into homes, avoiding unnecessary slaughter, Beach said.

Those interested in adopting hens can fill out an adoption form on Animal Place’s website.

The nonprofit is continually attempting to enhance its volunteer fleet.

For more information, visit animalplace.org or call 530-477-1757.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.


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