I have been devoted to advocating and caring for rescued animals at home and at many organizations over many years, with a specialty towards helping chickens (details, below). I have cared for directly and/or advised on the rehabilitation of beings too numerous to count! Over time word has spread and I get requests to take in so many more - but simply lack the housing to accomodate more. For my birthday, I have no greater wish than to continue the work I am doing caring for rescued birds like Buckles and friends, so I am raising funds to help us procure a top quality, safe coop with the following important features:
- Insulating and proper ventilation
- Nesting boxes and perches
- Fiberglass or epoxy flooring for better cleaning and parasite reduction
- Small loft for storage of coop bedding and supplies
- Electric (for warmth in winter and lighting for cleaning/care)
- Solar panel to reduce electric needs
- And so importantly: a spacious, predator-proof "run" so the residents have safe outdoor space to graze, sun and dustbathe even when we humans are out working to keep everyone cared for with chicken feed.
Buckles is a sweet "Cornish Cross" Rooster, a chicken who, as a baby, had been destined to be slaughtered on the streets of Brooklyn as part of a very archaic and cruel annual religious ceremony called Kapporos. Compassionate animal rights activists rescued some birds, but Buckles and his friend Pancakes were set aside in a cardboard box with straw, deemed to be possibly too badly injured to rehabilitate. When Buckles and Pancakes were lifted from their straw beds and shown to me, I knew I had to try to help them even though they seemed in terrible shape. Home they came.
After months of care - both chickens suffering illness and injury and needing extensive medical help from two different vets - to our great sadness, Pancakes did not make it... but somehow Buckles, who had seemed much worse off, pulled through despite having an injured hip, infections in both legs and a severed toe.
Now fully healed (above - though left with a limp) Buckles has exceeded all expectations and is King of the Yard! But our "chicken room" is not proper housing for a big guy like him, and we are ready to make a coop happen! Not only so that Buckles can continue to flourish, but we are eager to grow the work we are doing and take in more rescued birds in need.
ABOUT THE INSTITUTE AND HOW IT ALL BEGAN:
Hi! My name is Rebecca Moore and after many years of working and training at NYS animal rescues and sanctuaries, I am starting The Institute for Animal Happiness, a microsanctuary.
In a way, this microsanctuary has been building steadily all along...
I met a chicken at camp at age 10 and my whole world changed. I stopped eating animals overnight and became a young animal advocate - writing letters and going to demonstrations in the city. I volunteered at Bide A Wee shelter early on in my teens in NYC and rescued pigeons and two litters of cats. After going vegan and moving upstate years later, I started working at farm animal rescues, sanctuaries, shelters in the Hudson Valley, as well as working for almost a year in California helping a herd of rescued Alpaca (by assisting in the building of a proper shelter for them, creating fenced pasture and setting up medical and feeding routines for them.) At the NY sanctuaries and shelters over six years I wore many hats from animal caretaker and barn maintainance to administrator, fundraiser, educational tour guide, volunteer co-ordinator, program manager and more. In the middle of all this, I started bringing animals home that needed special care.
FIRST CAME NELLY, A ROOSTER BORN WITH SEVERE BIRTH DEFECTS TO BOTH FEET:
Nelly was brought by his rescuers to the animal sanctuary where I worked in 2009, but after a few months, sanctuary management decided they couldn't see to his special needs and asked me if I would take him home. Nelly was six years old already at the time when I brought him to my little cottage and created an indoor pen for him with cushioning to accommodate his bent and crooked feet, and created a safe outdoor space in my backyard for him, on soft grassy earth. He also had a thing for Tina Fey on 30 Rock:
I had never thought I would be a person with a rooster sleeping in my home. But there I was - and the more I learned about him, and the more I learned about chickens - who are arguably one of the most abused, mistreated, maligned and disrespected animals on the planet - the more I became passionate about helping them and advocating for them. I love ALL animals and am trained in the care of many species, but not owning any land or property, I realized I still could make the most of my backyard and at least be able to help smaller animals. I wanted to help those whom society looks down upon the most - chickens.
Nelly would live to be nearly 16 years old when he passed just this last January. He was the most special friend and I learned so much from him - in fact a new world literally opened up because of him...
THEN CAME TINA...
(I liked to call her the "Andy Warhol" of chickens")
Tina was also found by friends of the sanctuary where I worked - on a remote dirt road with blood coming from her beak and too weak to stand. I brought her home and worked to nurse her back to health every day. Soon, she and Nelly became a pair and I started to realize: there is really a need for people willing to give these birds the detailed and round the clock care and support they need in their most fragile stages, for them to really have a chance at life.
THEN CAME LARRY...
Larry was a mail-order chick, an unwanted office joke that a woman got from her boss as a "gift" in NYC. She didn't want to keep him and called the sanctuary where I was then working (a different one this time) to see if they could take him. They had no other birds they felt they could integrate Larry with (he was a tiny chick in a fragile stage with very special needs, and a very different breed from all the others) so - home he came.
THEN CAME BLANCHE... and at this point I started calling the chicken room at home "The Institute for Animal Happiness", because it was becoming more and more of a happy place with each new little resident:
Blanche was found by an animal advocate friend in NJ. She was wandering around an abandoned building, all alone. No people in sight, no other chickens anywhere around. Knowing the kinds of special care that Polish Hens can require, and that she might bond with Larry, we were so happy to welcome her to our home!
I say "we" because at this point my partner Brian and I had moved in together, and his supportive kindness and love for these beings has become invaluable to this mission continuing and even growing... here he is working on an old dog run that we are currently converting to a predator-proof chicken run so the birds have different options for safe outdoor space when not free-ranging:
THEN CAME BUCKLES AND PANCAKES... and a community formed around their rescue and was rooting for them to succeed. Despite Pancakes not making it, I had already decided: we are making a coop happen, for Buckles and for others of his kind, and for all who need this "ripple effect of love" too. After ten years of moving many times to accomodate working at different animal rescue organizations, we are finally living in a secure situation with a big incredible yard and a kind landlord who has given us the okay to have a coop!
THANK YOU kind friends, for supporting this birthday wish! I can only say that for so many years I have given my all and have loved doing this work with a passion (both as full time staffer or volunteer) at other organizations - caring for the animals, volunteering at every opportunity and fundraising on their behalf. Now I am so profoundly grateful to see these efforts take root and grow here on the home front. This is all I want to do in life.
Every good sanctuary I know has started with one building. For us, let it be this coop... and may many rescued beings find happiness here!
To see the growing new world that is The Institute, and pictures of some of the fundraiser perks, please visit The Institute For Animal Happiness Website
...and you can view a short film about Buckles and Pancakes when they were rescued, here (at the time of their rescue, it was thought that Buckles was a hen):
Please note: Any funds raised above the coop cost will go to the birds care and comfort, including a medical fund for current and future rescues. There is always a need! One vet visit with bloodwork and parasite labs can run $200+ dollars. One implant (for a hen in reproductive distress) is $288... Multiple vet visits and the care for Buckles leg was close to $1000.
Thank you very much, again!
QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN:
1) Can I send a check?
Yes you can! What you send will still be applied towards the crowdfunding goal and we'll still post your donation as you wish (anonymous or public) and any messages here on this site! If you do mail a check please give us a shout via this page to let us know to look out for it (the Post Office is a bit of a drive.)
The address to send a check is:
c/o The Institute for Animal Happiness
P.O. Box 466
Bearsville, NY 12409
2) How many birds will you be able to help with this coop?
In this size coop, 15-18 Cornish could live comfortably, but we are looking at configuration ideas. We may divide the coop, with entries on two sides, and have one side be for Cornish and one side be for rescued layer breeds. If so, because many layer breeds perch and like high nesting boxes, we could possibly accommodate more. Extremely special-needs birds will still sleep in our "Chicken Room" and receive care there, with their own outdoor, safe run during the day.
For birds who come to us, we provide a forever home. Cornish are a breed that tragically do not live very long lives in general, due to the terrible way they have been genetically manipulated. But over the years to come, this coop could give peaceful and loving haven to so many. For now, this one coop being built means a home for those who have nowhere to go!
3) What if you don't raise your entire goal?
We will make a coop happen no matter what, and apply the funds towards building materials. Brian has solid building skills and I have assisted on building projects, but both of us work day jobs so building it ourselves around work schedules will just mean it takes longer. The need to provide homes for birds is great and being able to order a ready-made coop from a quality company will help us provide haven sooner, but if we only partially meet our goal, we will build!
4) What if you keep getting asked to rescue more birds, and this coop fills up?
Every rescue and sanctuary I know started with one coop or outbuilding, and often it was in someone's backyard. Looking further ahead and proceeding thoughtfully, it is our dream to expand beyond one coop... so whatever coop we purchase or build with this campaign will be able to be dismantled so it can move with us!
Thank you for your support!
- Danny Tunick
- Helen Mendoza
- susan roth
- Cairn Pendleton
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