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1,225 abandoned Philly chicks find new nests to roost

Life these days is sunny-side up for the birds who have found new homes after being saved in September from a North Philly pop-up poultry farm gone afoul.

Rescued chickens at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.
Rescued chickens at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.Read moreCourtesy: Indra Lahiri

Call it a happy hen-ding.

Life these days is sunny-side up for 1,225 chickens who have found new homes to roost after being saved in September from a Philadelphia pop-up poultry farm gone afoul.

Found in a crowded, makeshift cage made from chicken wire and tarp in Crescentville this fall, the surviving chicks were rescued by Pennsylvania SPCA investigators and sanctuary workers from their substandard coop. The 1,000-plus baby birds were temporarily housed in 20 dog kennels at the PSPCA.

And now, all the birds have new homes, spread out among individual adopters and 14 sanctuaries across the country that welcomed them with open wings, from New Jersey to Washington and Michigan to Florida. Five Pennsylvania sanctuaries were among those that took in chickens.

Cornish Cross Chickens — bred for their meat — don’t stay small for long, and time was of the essence to find the birds permanent homes, said Indraloka Animal Sanctuary founder Indra Lahiri.

“This breed grows very, very quickly, and when we realized the number of them, we were extremely worried,” Lahiri said. “It only takes them six to eight weeks to reach adulthood, and they need a lot more care than most chickens … We felt like the odds were against us.”

Despite the signs they may have been headed for a Chicken Little scenario, the sanctuary and PSPCA team got to work, hosting how-to classes for potential bird owners-to-be and reaching out to farm animal sanctuaries across the nation in hopes of finding forever homes for the hundreds of feathered fowl.

And somewhere, Lahiri said, “someone was looking out for those birds," who can incur up to $50 in monthly health care expenses.

“We’re just so thrilled that every single one has been placed in a happy, loving, forever home,” Lahiri said. “And we’re just so grateful to the community and our partner sanctuaries. … These birds are so wonderful to have around. We call them the Labrador retriever of chickens — they’re just that friendly.”

As for the squatter on the Crescentville lot who hatched the plan to flip 2,500 birds for food, he has been charged with summary neglect for recklessly ill-treating the animals, and ordered to pay the shelter a little more than $300, said Nicole Wilson, director of humane law enforcement for the PSPCA. Authorities have not released the squatter’s name.

“Basically, he should have seen the situation coming,” she said. “It’s never a good idea to order 2,500 chickens and expect things to work out.”