“I have been feeling incredibly sad recently as I lost two of my chickens, very close together. Initially I felt that I did not want to offer a home to any other chickens, but the two that were left were a very small flock and I felt that they wanted some new family. I registered with the Battery Hen Welfare Trust and planned to go and meet our new family on Sunday morning.
We arrived at the farm and I was overcome with emotions. Good and bad. These were coming from myself, and I believe the chickens as it was a stressful day for them but the beginning of a brighter future too. I apologised to the lady in charge as we were nearly late and explained it was because I had come across a baby pigeon with a broken wing that morning and I had to make sure she was safe and settled before we left. The lady immediately said, ‘Oh, we need a very special caring home for one of these girls as she has a broken, but healed, wing so she is even more delicate’. Of course I replied, ‘ Please may I have her?’ And we set off home with three gorgeous girls.
I left them to settle in to their new home and meet Lily and LC, and spent the afternoon deciding what the best course of action was for the pigeon.
All was well the next morning as I set off with the baby pigeon, who was bright and eating and drinking well. An awful time followed; driving all over the place to eventually end up at the best avian vet, via numerous wildlife rescue places, in the hope that he would help her. I was certain she was not ready to die. Unfortunately he wouldn’t as she was just a pigeon and ‘there are plenty of them out there’.
The pigeon, who I believe was called Mallow, is now in spirit. Her wing was fractured badly, with an open wound that was infected. I have worked for a number of years as a veterinary nurse and so had an understanding of the severity of her condition. I believe that if her wing had been amputated as she was so young, with the right care and love she would have adapted well and been happy. Everything about her was telling me to choose life for her. This is why when at every wildlife hospital who said, sorry we can’t help, I went on again.
My feelings about disabilities in animals and quality of life have changed dramatically since reading both of your books. I always used to think it was better to let a friend go a day too soon as opposed to a day too late. However if we do not ask the animal their wishes how will we ever know?
For Mallow to receive the best treatment I went to the ‘best’ avian place. I offered to pay, and promised a safe, responsible home for her for life. My husband is a vet, but equine so unable to perform the surgery but good to have on hand for her recuperation. The avian specialist refused to treat her. Adding that if she were a golden eagle or a honey buzzard they would, of course, do the surgery.
She was put down.
There was nowhere else that I knew of that would do the surgery and without it she would have died from the infection. I feel I let her down.
This is the very reason I chose to leave the veterinary profession to re train as a human nurse. Every day decisions about an animals’ life are based on their ‘value’. Are they fast? Are they nice to look at? Are they fertile? Are they easy to have around? It is soul destroying.
I always say to these people making these decisions, could they imagine, me as a nurse saying to someone ‘you do not have a degree, you are not very clever so I am not going to help you’ or ‘you are last in your race at sports day every year, I am not going to help you’ or ‘your surname is Smith. There are lots of those, so I am not going to help you’.
I returned home devastated. Once I was in a better frame of mind I went to see the girls. I have been really disappointed with my attempts at communicating recently. Since your wonderful Animal Thoughts workshop I have been struggling to have the same level of success.
However, I so wanted to ask the girls what their names were as opposed to just deciding for them. I sat with them for lovely quiet time enjoying being with them so very much. I began to feel better in myself and tentatively tried to connect with the beautiful girl with the broken wing, she is so friendly!
She told me with absolute clarity that her name is Beatrix. I thanked her very much and sent her love with all of my heart.
That evening I wondered to myself if Beatrix has a meaning, so I looked it up.
Beatrix means ‘she who brings happiness’.
I am so blessed to be surrounded by these special friends and I thank you for your guidance in connecting with them.
This made me so happy I am sharing it with anyone who I think will share in the happiness!”
The Battery Hen Welfare Trust finds caring homes for thousands of commercial laying hens destined for slaughter each year and have hen collection points all over the country. To find the one nearest to you just click here.
If you’d like to be involved in the BHWT work, there are lots of ways your help can really make a difference and they would love to hear from you. The volunteers are one of the most vital parts of the charity, generously donating their time and energy. To discover how to get involved click here
This piece was provided by an Animal Thoughts student
Pic. Beatrice (L) and Emily (R)