Friday, August 5, 2011

Four Dead Chicks

It's almost too raw to tell you right now, but I thought I'd try before I loose the courage. Yesterday I looked at my recent work and a lot of it was warped. After looking at all that hand painted slip work, I initially wondered why I keep making work, what's the point. But then I saw it was the type of foam support I had used which kept the clay wetter in the center and allowed the sides to dry sooner. Another type of foam I used worked better.

Next thing I noticed a huge oak on the neighboring property has suddenly died. It is hanging precariously with a severe lean over our mail box, driveway, and front entrance pillars with lights. Kind of sad a big oak tree dying, but we've had less than normal rainfall and higher heat this season. I decided I needed to mail a letter to the lot owner next door to ask them to have the tree removed. With the potential of storms I wanted to notify the owners to have the tree cut down right away before it damages our pillars which we can little afford to fix if they break.

Later I went to the post office to mail the letter. As I walked up to the counter at the post office I heard baby birds chirping very loudly and I couldn't figure it out. Their chirps echoed all over the post office and I wondered where they were coming from. I asked the postmaster thinking there was a bird's nest on the roof, such as a sparrows nest. But I knew this wasn't the time of year for a bird's nest to be full of babies, it's much too hot now. And in the back of my mind I knew the sound of those chirps were distress calls, and they were calling to me.

The postmaster informed me that they were baby chicks chirping. I said, chickens? He said yes they were shipped through the mail from Iowa and it was legal. I was slightly dumb struck that baby chicks can legally be shipped through the mail especially this time of year and that they were sitting in the post office. Then came the clincher. He said he had called the people who had ordered the chicks two days ago and they still hadn't come to get the chicks. In the back of my mind I counted the two days to be shipped and two days sitting in the post office and I was in shock. Baby chickens without food or water for four days and they were still chirping.

I was in such shock that I walked away and came back and reiterated our conversation with the postal clerk because I just couldn't believe it. But it was true and I walked out to my car and started crying. Crying about the poor helpless baby chicks sitting in a box at the post office with no one caring for them. It being a post office and federal building, I felt helpless to do anything. I cried all the way home and when I got there around noon I called two different Humane Society offices and left messages and then I called the PETA national office in Virginia and left a message. I just wasn't thinking clearly about what to do.

A short while later the PETA office in Virginia called me and said they were investigating with the post office. Finally they called me again and said they were having the sheriff go out to to the post office and that the Humane Society didn't had jurisdiction over the post office. Thanks to PETA. Previously I had told them I'd go back to the post office at 4 pm to see if the chicks were still at the post office. I couldn't do a thing all day long and knew for sure I wouldn't be able to sleep that night thinking about those poor baby chicks. When I went back to the post office at 4 pm a different postal clerk said the chicks had been delivered to the people who had ordered them. The clerk was rather vague and wouldn't look me in the eye. When I got home I called the PETA offices and I told them the chicks were delivered and I asked if they'd call me back when they got the final report.

Finally PETA called me and told me the people who had ordered the chicks had gotten the chicks delivered and out of ten chicks ordered, there were four dead chicks. I'm still shaking my head that no one thought to help the baby chickens caged with no food and water at the post office till I came along and asked about them. A life is a life even if it's only a baby chicken. As soon as I'm feeling better I'll make a piece in clay to commemorate those poor baby chickens.


  1. That is really sad. If you hadn't made your phone calls, I would imagine there would have been 10 dead chicks. I do know that they can be mailed, but perhaps this can be changed. (to fed-ex perhaps?) A letter to the editor of your local paper may help get the issue out. The post people would have probably thought they'd get in trouble for opening the box, but I agree- how ridiculous & cruel.

  2. One of those stories that make me think: What is the MATTER with people?

  3. I'm heartsick right along with you. Thank you so much for planning to commemorate them. I used to ride home with the baby chicks in the back seat with me after we'd picked them up at the creamery. They were in a compartmentalized cardboard box. I can hear them still....

  4. Linda, sometimes life is just too filled with
    dispair and misery and we as individuals are left helpless. You acted on your feelings and helped a terrible situation and you might also act on doing something soul soothing and restorative to lift your own spirits.Maybe pick one place that always makes you feel better or go watch thpse aquarium critters. Find some peace and calm for you. Hugs. Joann T

  5. Linda, I too just learned this summer that baby chickens, ducks etc. are shipped through the MAIL!! This seems too inhumane to be legal. My volunteer work with the Farmer's Market this summer has opened my eyes to many things -the saddest is that there is an "expected failure rate" and people order hatchlings accordingly. I learned about this failure rate through a vendor who was unable to attend the market one day and needed to tend to her sick and ailing recently received shipment. I confirmed this shipping practice with a large mill & feed store that this was standard practice -who would have ever thought?! I was too shocked (and naive) and wasn't brave enough to call anyone or say anything -at least you did something about it.

  6. I am stunned. It would have driven me crazy also. Thanks to your intervention, at least 6 survived. I became a vegetarian just following a chicken truck, can't imagine how that would have affected me. Some things have to change.

  7. OMG...I'm so angry I could just spit!!!! Thanks for doing what you did to save the poor chick.

    I might have tried to get that box/cage that they were in and just open it up and help them. Yeah, I would have probably been arrested on a federal offense but really....that is crappy!

    You have a good heart. Thanks

  8. Hi Linda - Hugs to you for your sadness and for helping to save the six left. I hope that law is changed so they can't be mailed like that anymore.

  9. Hi Linda
    Your post worried me so much I have just checked our postal laws. Here in Australia we are only allowed to ship live animals if they are bees, leeches, or silkworms and even then there are regulations on how they can be shipped. Hugs again for getting the animal welfare involved.

  10. Oh Linda, how sad. You did your best and likely saved the other wee birds. People are so horrible.

  11. I am sure there is so much of this that goes on that we don't even know about. you are good, kind and brave person to step up to the plate and do something.

  12. Hi Becky, thanks, yes I think there would have been ten dead, and there still may be, who knows if the remainder will make it.

    Hi Lori, thanks, yes what is the matter, we are desensitized I guess to the suffering around us.

    Hi Teresa, thanks, yes the little chicks are very insistent, thank goodness they are.

    Hi Joan, thanks, yes I am thinking of what I might do, I must find a special place to get calm, thanks for the suggestion; it is a very good one.

    Hi Cindy, thanks, yes expected failure I could live with, but not letting them cry for help and doing nothing while they sat in a box for two days behind me. I did read that baby chicks can live without food or water for three days, but that must be the reserves they have right after being born, then sustenence must be provided for them.

    Hi Patti, thanks, yes vegetarian is high on my mind right now. animals should be treated humanely even if for food.

    Hi Ceci, thanks, I had to hold myself back from jumping over the counter at the post office or lambasting that postal clerk serving the public with the chorus of chicks crying in the background.

    Hi Anna, thanks, I'm glad most were saved and that helps me a little. It also makes me braver for the next wrong I see and may be able to help correct in some small way.

    Hi Anna, thanks, I did look it up here too to see if it was legal and it is, apparently baby chicks can survive without food or water for three days, so the practice must be based upon that fact. Bees, leeches, silk worms interesting.

    Hi Ronna, thanks, people just don't think sometimes, but perhaps in the future they will think differently, we all make mistakes.

    Hi Michele, thanks, yes much we don't know about, I could tell you stories about the happy california dairy cows and the veal they raise which would curl your eyebrows. One small step improves my courage for what may lay in the future.

  13. Oh that is awful! I can't believe those poor chicks were chirping in distress and no-one in that post office thought to check on them? That's just sick. I'm also pretty amazed they can be shipped through the mail. I'm so glad you called PETA. Hopefully they can investigate to see how such a thing happened and speak to those involved. Definitely agree, a life is a life - and disregard for any life is very, very wrong.

  14. Hi Jayne, thanks, yes I was incredulous that they could work all day with the chicks chirping so loudly right behind them, so sad. If I had been that postal worker I would have delivered the chicks myself on my own time after work so they were taken care of. that's why our country is so bad off right now, folks ignore problems in hopes they'll go away and instead they just multiply ten fold.

  15. Oh Linda, this made me cry. While I recognize I'm so hormonal lately, that's not the reason for my cry. It's injustice and such treatment to animals no matter what kind. I've been made aware on facebook lately how many animals are killed in shelters and how, and such horrible abuse of animals by our fellow humans. It just makes me cry every day. But I have also learned of the good souls who rescue many of them and put them in foster homes and ultimately adopt them out. For every bad situation are lots of people to take action and make it better for one animal. And then there is the many like me who help with money helping to save some and make some get better. I think I pretty much have donated all my sales from etsy that I've had this year to many animal causes.

    I am so glad you took action and got the ball rolling so those poor chicks could get delivered and taken care of. Sometimes I think that just because it's legal to do something it's okay to do it... but not all think the same. I'm glad to hear you will make a piece to commemorate them, can't wait to see it. Hugs.

  16. Wow Linda. This story was amazing. I had no idea... Seems like the post office shouldn't allow it. I just keep thinking, "Really????!!!!"

  17. Hi Yolanda, thanks, I was probably over-reacting to the situation in crying all the way home too, but sometimes things like this let us release other emotions we may have been holding in and not able to release, thanks for your thoughts.

    Hi Patricia, thanks, yes it shouldn't be allowed, and yet the post office was partially to blame for keeping them there for two days instead of doing something. Now I read in the news that the post office may default, is our world getting desensitized due to other problems, that's the only thing I can think is causing some of these actions, we have to help one another if we can.


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