Goby Perez, as Quincy from Farm Bird Sanctuary named him, is a perfect little rooster who came into our lives via a series of unfortunate events. On a frigidly cold day in middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin, he was flung off the roof of a bar. You read that correctly.
The event, Pioneer Days, happened in the town of Ridgeland, and was attended by a couple thousand folks as far as we could tell. Somehow it has gone on for 36 years now, taking place during the cold Wisconsin winter. One of its draws is a pig-catch and the other is a "chicken toss". The premise of the toss is basically keep what you catch. We attended the toss in the hopes of saving some innocent lives. Unfortunately, we were not present to witness the pig abuse event.
As we stood there amongst the crowd, we noticed that the majority of adults were drinking beer. There were many kids present, too, as this is considered a family event in this town. And then we saw the chickens, crammed into cages that were propped on top of the roof. As the time drew near for the toss to begin, the mob cheered and chanted excitedly.
Everything happened so quickly. A couple of men opened the cages, and one by one, they hurled the chickens into the screaming crowd. Some chickens were snatched midair by their fragile wings, necks, or feet. Other chickens that landed onto the ground were pounced on by people who then tugged on their delicate bodies. One chicken smacked into the wall of a building across the street--the crowd laughed. Another chicken landed on an awning, and children threw snowballs at him until the chicken fell off. We witnessed chickens, presumably either severely injured or killed on the spot, being stuffed into plastic bags. We saw two females force-feeding beer to a chicken while posing for a selfie. We saw a bird with a broken foot, some with severe frostbite, and some left in a cage on the snow with no barrier between their feet and the ice and nowhere to move.
We witnessed and took pictures and video footage. It was so absurd and barbaric that we couldn't believe our eyes. This was real life, and I, for one, never felt so helpless.
And then Goby was thrown. My husband Mike was standing near the spot where Goby landed, and he dove onto the ground to protect Goby with his body. Mike was able to fend off a couple of individuals, and then together we rushed Goby back to the vehicle.
Goby was in bad shape--really bad shape. As we made our way through the crowd, I told him he was safe. While cradling his tiny shaking body, I bawled. I cried because of the heinousness of it all. I cried because this defenseless little bird had just been mercilously thrown into a crowd of neanderthals, who appear to have no regard for sentient life besides their own. They see nothing wrong with their behavior, and they defend it fervently. I wept for the children being raised in this heartless environment. Meanwhile, the police, instead of enforcing their animal cruelty laws, were monitoring the handful of peaceful protesters picketing. They simply stared at me intently as I walked passed with Goby.
I sat with Goby in the back seat, and offered him food and water. He desperately drank all the water in the dish. When Mike got in the back seat and attempted to touch him, Goby went into a full-blown panic and flew into the window. I cradled him while again he shook. He was trying to get as far away from Mike as he could. Goby associated Mike with what had happened moments earlier. Goby associated Mike with violence. Just like any other sentient being, Goby just wanted to be free from harm.
We rescued a total of four birds, including Goby, that day. The other three beautiful chickens, by the way, found a loving home at a different sanctuary, where they will live happily ever after.
Goby stayed with Quincy and Todd at Farm Bird Sanctuary, and about a month after the event, he was healthy enough to undergo eye surgery. The docs cut out all the coagulated pus so that he could have a better chance at living a normal and healthful life. The surgery went really well, and Goby has come a long way since that fateful day in Ridgeland. Goby Perez is a sweet, intelligent, and happy chicken, and we are forever connected now. We cannot be more thankful for Quincy and Todd for taking him into their wonderful sanctuary and giving him the best life possible. Quincy and Todd devote their lives to rescuing, rehabilitating, advocating for, loving and caring for farm birds like Goby, and their work is truly amazing and inspirational. They also extend their compassion beyond just birds to ALL animals by following and promoting a vegan lifestyle.
Please check out their noble work on Facebook @FarmBirdSanctuary. Quincy is also a member of The Microsanctuary Movement, which everyone should follow, too!