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Abandoned chickens saved from death


They just dont let up.

Their name is their fate – broilers. And, but for the efforts of a local animal sanctuary, 200 or so abandoned Brooklyn broilers were saved from a fate worse than deep-frying during the weekend.

Animal rescue officials believe a dozen crowded crates of starving chickens discovered Sunday in an empty Coney Island lot were unused leftovers that had been scheduled for slaughter as part of an unusual religious ceremony.

The atonement ceremony, called “kapparot,” is practiced in some ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sects on the eve of Yom Kippur. The ceremony requires a man or woman to wave a chicken over his or her head three times while reciting a prayer. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to the poor.

It wasn’t the practice itself that caught the attention of the Manhattan ASPCA last weekend – it was the discovery of the dying and dead broilers that eventually sent the chickens north to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

Joe Pentangelo, a special agent for the Manhattan ASPCA, said yesterday that an investigation was continuing into who was responsible for leaving the chickens behind. No arrests have been made, he said.

Most of the bedeviled broilers escaped their fate a second time Sunday, even though the ASPCA is best suited to saving cats and dogs, not squadrons of chickens.

But before that could happen, an ASPCA official reached out to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, which agreed to accept and care for the starving and dehydrated creatures.

Two vanloads of bedraggled broilers arrived at the sanctuary’s 100-acre spread on Monday. A warm corner of a barn was the flock’s first taste of freedom, according to Kathy Stevens, director of CAS.

At least a dozen of the new arrivals didn’t survive the trip, she said. But by yesterday, the vast majority were recovering nicely, hunkering under heat lamps and gorging themselves on high-octane feed and the equivalent of chicken Gatorade.

Under the best of conditions, the life of a broiler is a short affair. Those that escape the butcher block don’t have a lot of time to savor their luck.

Other, luckier breeds can live as long as 10 years. But a typical broiler dies within a year of birth of heart attack or heat stroke, no longer able to carry its own weight.

“The factory has replaced the farm,” is how Stevens described the situation.

CAS is effectively farming out their refugees to places like the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and several other outfits that rescue and protect bottom-of-the-pecking-order breeds like the Brooklyn broilers.

“It’s not much of a life span,” Stevens said while holding one of her new arrivals. “But that’s not so important at times like these.”

Rite could have been fate of fowl

According to, kapparot, or “symbolic atonemen,” is practiced by certain ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects when possible on the day before Yom Kippur. The rite consists of taking a chicken in one’s hand and reciting a prayer. The bird is then waved over one’s head three times and the appropriate text is recited. The fowl is then slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law. The kapparot is sometimes redeemed for money, which is then given to the poor, but sometimes the chickens themselves are given to the poor.

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