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Edna and Penelope

Story and photographs by Mia Sacilotto

It was cold and damp on Saturday, December 2, 2017 when, in the late afternoon, my husband, daughter, and I went out to run some requisite errands. There’s never anywhere to park near our apartment when my husband gets home (at midnight or 4am, depending on his shift), so he frequently parks many blocks away, often near a gated school campus.

That day, as we turned the corner to the car, we saw two reddish brown birds scuttling around on the sidewalk, near the curb. As we got closer, we saw that they were chickens. Closer still, we realized that their beaks had been cut off. It was clear in that moment that they had been abandoned and that we needed to do something. As we stood there, deciding what to do, my daughter noticed a third chicken, huddled on the property side of the gate.


After a few unsuccessful attempts to pick up the chickens on the curb, I was able catch one and put her in our car (this would later become Edna). A man passing laughed at me and made a single comment, “dinner.”

We wrapped Edna in a Hello Kitty fleece blanket. She looked stunned. I noticed that she had a lump on her lower beak that looked like some kind of scar tissue. I tried again to catch the other loose chicken, but she squeezed through the fence, just out of reach.

I took a picture of these two chickens and immediately messaged Rocky Schwartz. My plan was to get all three of them off the street, but I needed Rocky’s advice on everything else (Rocky and I had met earlier in the summer over the rescue of a rooster, which was coordinated by people in 3 different states!)

I took Edna home and set up a large dog kennel for her. She immediately drank a lot of water. The only food we had on hand that seemed appropriate were bananas, which she ignored. After drinking, she hid her head (with her butt sticking out!) in a cat tunnel bed.


After getting Edna settled, I grabbed a carrier and went back for the others. By the time I got to the school again, it was getting dark and it was colder. When I reached the spot, both chickens were still on the property side of the gate. The huddled chicken looked like she hadn’t moved at all. Rocky had messaged me back and told me these were Red Star hens, used for brown eggs. I decided to just grab the hen who wasn’t moving and push her through one of the openings in the gate. I was able to do this, taking great care of her wings and placed her in the carrier (this hen was to become Penelope). She looked bad and lay slumped in the carrier. I tried to coax the last, remaining hen (Coretta) near the fence, but she would not come near enough. She disappeared over a hill on the grounds, so I decided to get Penelope home and out of the cold.


At home, Penelope would not eat or drink. I expected her to die that night. I went back to the school in the dark, but Coretta was not there. Rocky and I agreed to meet the next day to look for her. I went to the store to get parrot food, fruit, dog training pads and anything else I could think of that I could use.

Miraculously, both hens looked better in the morning. They both ate. They were both active. It was a big relief! We made a veterinary appointment for them. We also met up with Rocky to find Coretta, which is a whole other tale involving the NYPD and resulting in my being banned from the school campus where the chickens were dumped. I was told that a warrant will be issued for my arrest if I am found on the grounds at any point in the future. More importantly, though, we found Coretta and she now lives with Rocky in her microsanctuary in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

We fell in love with Edna and Penelope, but felt that our tiny apartment with no outdoor space would not be appropriate for them. When CAS offered to take them, we decided it was the only fair choice. However, we take our stewardship for them seriously, and to that end have become their sponsors and will assume the further responsibility for their medical care. In their case, because they are a breed of “egg-laying” chicken that has been genetically manipulated to lay 200-300 eggs yearly, they will need hormonal implants several times a year to keep this from continuing. Although Edna and Penelope live 2.5 hours away from us, we still think of them as “our” chickens and will continue to support them in any way we can.




*Animal Rescue, Rescues


One reply on “Edna and Penelope”

  1. Thank you for saving all 3 girls. Shame on whoever dumped them but they will without doubt have a better, safer and longer life. And shame on the NYPD and/or school for threatening arrest.

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