Archive for May, 2009

Chicken Run Rescue

May 13, 2009

Police Break up Cockfighting Ring in Minneapolis
Chicken Escapes from Slaughterhouse
Abandoned Chickens Found in Alley
Whoops—It’s a Rooster
Abused Chickens

What happens to all these chickens? If they’re lucky, they’re brought to Chicken Run Rescue, the only urban chicken rescue facility in the United States. Mary Britton Clouse and her husband Bert Clouse open their turn-of-the century home and their hearts to care for the most abused species on earth: chickens.

There’s no sign announcing Chicken Run Rescue but as I walked, on one of the busiest streets in north Minneapolis, I knew I was there when I heard the calls of contented roosters through the dense shrubbery barrier. Inside, is a beautiful peaceful area devoted to chickens—a type of chicken retreat. Happy contented birds roam the landscaped backyard. It’s hard to believe that some of these same birds were once inflicted with abuse and pain.

Chicken Run Rescue Backyard
Early Spring 2009

Summer 2008 with Amaranth in Bloom
(good plants for chickens)

Pierce Butler

One of Mary’s favorite roosters is Pierce Butler. This stately black bird with a giant red comb has nerve damage. He’s been near death three times recently but comes fighting back each time. His beak has been clipped so far back that pecking hard surfaces causes pain. Mary places a folded towel in his food dish to soften the surface when he pecks.


Hannah, a tiny little girl, hobbles around on stumps—she lost all but two of her toes. She was left outside in frigid temps and frostbite did the damage. Mary takes the time to give her special care and she lovingly responds to anyone who comes to visit.

Hannah’s Two Toes

Luckilee, the escape artist from the slaughterhouse, was found wandering the streets. A concerned neighbor called Mary.

Chicken Run Rescue began in 2001 when Mary heard about a cockfighting ring the police had uncovered. She inquired as to what would happen to the 15 roosters and hens recovered in the bust. She was told they had no facilities to house the chickens and therefore they would have to be euthanized. She said “Bring them here, I’ll find homes for them.” Mary had no experience with chickens. She’d never even held a chicken.

Cockfighting Bird

That was the start of a life-changing decision. Last year Chicken Run Rescue took in 234 chickens. The number of chickens in their care changes at all times. Eight hens and three roosters are permanent pets. Any of the special needs birds, especially roosters, always stay. (In addition to the 5 rescue budgies and 2 doves that now live with them.) The day I visited there were 5 foster chickens, birds that are up for adoption, but more were being dropped off that afternoon.

New additions have to be quarantined to make sure they’re healthy before being allowed outside with the rest of the flock. At Chicken Run Rescue that means they spend time in an upstairs shower stall that’s softened with straw. Vet visits are arranged if necessary and any health or sanitary issues are dealt with. By the time these birds are ready for adoption they’re happy, healthy beautiful chickens.

For a list of the birds currently up for adoption, including Luckilee, check out Chicken Run Rescue Adoptions. If you’re not able to adopt but concerned about the plight of these animals, consider giving a donation. Chicken Run Rescue is a nonprofit funded solely by individual donations.

Hannah and Friends

As I left, the birds were busy munching on the heads of romaine lettuce Mary buys in bulk as treats. Come nightfall they’ll line up and march downstairs to the spacious pens Mary and Bert built in their basement. “Why build heated coops outside and worry about the cold when I have an unused heated basement available?” she said. That’s love. When you look at her birds, you can see in their eyes they know how lucky they are.