Animal News

Vet nurses chicks back to health

Birds were abandoned in bitter cold


When more than two dozen baby chickens were left outside of a Hempstead pet store in late December, the odds were stacked against them. But the work of some caring humans gave them a fighting chance.

Two employees at Petland Discounts came to work and found 28 chicks abandoned outside the store on Dec. 27. They immediately brought them to Central Veterinary Associates, a 24-hour animal care clinic in Valley Stream. The chicks were cared for and will now be living a better life on a farm.

One of the chicks did die, said CVA President Dr. John Charos, who supervised the care, but the others survived despite spending hours in the bitter cold. He said several were suffering from hypothermia and required extensive treatment. Many of the chicks needed antibiotics as well as assistance eating.

After two weeks of care, the chicks were turned over to the Dorothy P. Flint 4-H Camp in Riverhead, a division of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County. The 140-acre facility includes an educational summer camp. Maria Devlin, administrator of the program, came to Valley Stream on Jan. 10 to accept the chicks.

Charos said he wanted to make sure he found the right home for the chicks, which were about a week old and only 1½ ounces each when they were brought in. Since then, they have tripled in size.

After word got out that CVA was caring for the chicks, he received several calls from people looking to adopt them. “They can make good pets, but they’re not a traditional pet,” he said. “We wanted to make sure they went to a facility that could handle them properly.”

Devlin was one of the people who placed a call to Charos, and was happy that he chose the 4-H camp. She explained that the chickens will live on a farm and will be raised to become egg-layers. Children attending the camp will learn about the reproduction cycle of chickens and eggs.

She expects the chicks to be very happy in their new environment. “They’ll have a very good life,” she said. “They will be treated very well.”

Devlin said she is appreciative to the staff at CVA for their care of the chicks. During their two week stay, the animals resided in the avian facility, which in the past has been home to injured bald eagles, hawks and owls, as well as common household birds such as parakeets. During production of“Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” a 2011 Jim Carrey movie, the CVA staff cared for those penguins there.

Charos said that often around Easter, he will see abandoned chicks, but it is rare around Christmas. He said sometimes parents will buy eggs so their children can watch them hatch, but then don’t want the animal. “If you want to see them hatch,” he said, “go to a farm.”

He added that the abandonment of these chicks is being investigated by the Nassau County ASPCA.

Over the course of their stay, dozens of staff members at CVA helped care for the chicks. Charos said that despite the bad situation the birds faced initially, the story has a happy ending. “It was good to see that we were able to help,” he said. “It was a team effort.”