Posts tagged chickens

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Pasado’s provides safe haven for abused animals

Lamp Chop as a baby sheep

Lamb Chop as a baby sheep

By Christie Lagally

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

January 10, 2013

Originally published in the Queen Anne News and City Living Seattle

The grunts and oinks from Bentley and Oscar started up immediately as we walked into their stall at Pasado’s Safe Haven. Stacie Martin, the sanctuary director of operations, was giving us a tour, and she kept saying we should come meet the pigs. But clearly, we were there for the pigs to meet us.

Stacie Martin and Bentley

Stacie Martin and Bentley

Bentley a stout, pink Potbelly pig had a lot to say — particularly where to scratch on his back and grunts of hello to my husband, who joined me on the tour.

Pasado’s is a unique place as a sanctuary for all types of animals, but also for their work changing law. In its nearly 15-year history, the organization has pressed through anti-cruelty laws that made many types of animal abuse toward companion and farm animals a felony in Washington state.

The sanctuary is named for the loss of a loved one: a beloved donkey named Pasado, who was brutally beaten and killed by teenagers. In the wake of his death, the founders of Pasado’s Safe Haven made it their mission to require stiff penalties for animal cruelty and to see that justice is served.

In that fine tradition, today, Pasado’s employs three animal-cruelty investigators and, this year alone, has re-homed or provided sanctuary to more than 700 animals in need. Many of the sanctuary animals are rescues from cruelty investigations.

Chickens at roosting hour

Chickens at roosting hour

A better life

A chicken barn full of white to red, big to small chickens, roosters and even a rogue turkey was our next stop. Martin explained that 50 of the white birds had come from a factory farm in Turlock, Calif., where 50,000 hens were left to starve to death earlier this year. Local animal-control agencies found 17,000 hens dead on arrival.

Animal Place, a farm-animal sanctuary in California, took more than 4,000 of the hens, and other organizations like Farm Sanctuary and Pasado’s took hens as well.

Now, with the freedom to walk around and to act like a chicken, these hens — unlike their pig neighbors — had little concern for our presence at the twilight roosting hour.

But the difference between the conditions shown in a photo of battery-caged chickens on the barn wall and the busy, nesting white hens before me was not just visual — it was palpable. These animals had been rescued from horrible conditions, and they intended to live their lives uninterrupted from now on.

Goat turned in for the night

Goat turned in for the night

Our tour continued to meet some goats tucked into piles of wood chips for the night. Whoopi Goatberg came to the stall door to observe and say hello to Martin.

“We have a bunch of animals named for celebrities,” Martin explained, rattling off a list that included Michelle O’Llama, Ellen Deheneras and George Plummy.

‘Guests of honor,’ not meals

Pasado’s is built on 85 acres of rocky, steep, forested land just east of Seattle. Generous donors have enabled continuous building and rebuilding to accommodate all types of animals, from goats to cats.

Dali Llama protecting his barn

Dali Llama protecting his barn

With the exception of the abusive pasts that so many of these animals suffered, this sanctuary is farm life as it should be: safe, comfortable, clean and honest. By its very existence, it is advocacy against the modern factory farm.

As we entered a central hillside barn, we met Dali Llama, the protector of his herd. Nonviolent and clear in his convictions, as his name suggests, Dali watched over a donkey, two ponies, three little pigs and three sheep: Lady Baa Baa, Bo Peep and Lamb Chop.

“We give some of the animals names that reminds people of the food they eat.” Martin explained. The intention is to bring awareness to the fact that precious lives are lost for meat consumption, and Lamp Chop was certainly precious.

Roaming the barn with sheep and pigs, you cannot help but be reminded that these are the lucky ones, because modern agriculture has turned barns into factories where animals are caged and crated indefinitely and where antibiotics must be used to prevent sickness in atrocious and unhealthy conditions.

Lamp Chop all grown up

Lamb Chop all grown up

So this Thanksgiving at Pasado’s, human guests ate a gourmet vegan meal prepared by chef Bridget McNasser, and an honorary meal was served to the resident turkeys as reminder of the new role that animals can play during the holidays: “where turkeys are the guest of honor and not the main course.” The event was a fund-raiser for the sanctuary and a reminder that the holidays need not be about meat.

Our tour with Martin was completed with a walk past some tail-wagging dogs and feral cats.

Eric saying goodnight to Benley and Oscar

Eric saying goodnight to Bentley and Oscar

New things to consider

As my husband and I drove home, we reflected on each of the sweet faces and unique personalities we had met in such a short evening at the sanctuary.

While thinking of Lamp Chop’s serene presence to Bentley’s informative oinks, my husband asked, “Shall we have Tofurky or the vegan Field Roast for Christmas dinner?” I’m still deciding, but delighted to know I have lots of options for a humane holiday meal.

For more information on Pasado’s Safe Haven, visit 

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is host of “Living Humane” on KKNW 1150 AM and writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at  HYPERLINK “” To comment on this story, write to


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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Chicks in the City

Rhodie (left), Hedda and Honeybee

By Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

April 10, 2012

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

As consumers, most of us are disturbed by the inhumane practice of factory farming. Chickens, as well as pigs and other farm animals, suffer much of their lives in cramped, relentless conditions that would make anyone go mad.

Yet, the practice of urban agriculture has garnered considerable attention in recent years, and Seattle chicken keepers can ensure that their birds are happy and well cared for while being rewarded with fresh eggs.

At least that is the goal for Kristin Baerg’s students at North Seattle Community College. Baerg teaches a class on chicken keeping and urban farming. In addition to being a busy mom of young children, Baerg runs a hobby farm with cows, pigs and chickens in Monroe and shares her expertise in her classes.

Humane conditions

In her Chicks in the City class, Baerg explains that chicken keeping is a legal, sustainable practice in Seattle and is an easy way to avoid supporting factory farming. The two-and-half-hour class covers topics from chicken breeds to first aid. Up to eight chickens can be kept in yard pens, and Baerg said they take very little time to care for overall.

Baerg said that her chickens are raised for meat, as well: “People often asked me how I can eat animals that I know. But I remind them that the animals I raised lived happy healthy lives before it was their time to go.

“I wonder how people can buy packaged meat from the store with the knowledge that the animal suffered terribly for a lifetime,” Baerg continued. “We have a responsibility to prevent suffering of animals in our care.”

Apparently, animal advocates, egg producers and consumers alike agree with Baerg’s sentiment.

Recently, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which advocates for the humane treatment of all animals regardless of their role in our society, made an agreement with the United Egg Producers, an industry trade association, to support legislation to improve conditions in industrial egg facilities nationally.

Hedda the chicken

Paul Shapiro, senior director of Farm Animal Protection for the HSUS, said the bill is being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives but has not yet been passed into law. If enacted, the new law would apply higher animal-welfare standards equally to all egg producers. Chickens would be in better environments and have increased room to walk. The goal is to give some relief to chickens in these factory conditions.

Caring for chickens

Featherflop III

As for keeping backyard chickens, Shapiro said it can be an eye-opening experience. “As long as there are sufficient rules in place to protect chickens from cruelty and neglect, residents get the opportunity to see what beautiful, intelligent and interesting creatures chickens actually are,” Shapiro said.

Mollie Welch and Cleo

North Seattle resident Mollie Welch reported a similar experience raising hens. Welch is my neighbor, and she cares for five laying hens of all different breeds. Hedda, a white-crested black Polish, frequently roams Welch’s front yard with her sister-hens Honeybee (a partridge cochin), Rhodie (a Rhode Island red), Cleo (a white-caced Wyandotte) and Featherflop III (an Ameraucana hen).

“It’s a family name,” Welch explained of the last hen. Featherflop I and II have since passed on.

Eggs from Mollie Welch’s chickens

Welch has enjoyed her chickens for about a year. She brought them home from Portage Bay Grange, a supply store that offers chicken, rabbit and goat feed for urban animal keeping here in Seattle. Now, the flock produces seven to 12 eggs a week, ranging in color from delicately brown-spotted from Honeybee to soft green from Cleo.

Welch learned chicken keeping from a variety of sources, and recently had to care for a wound on Hedda’s head. An anti-pecking compound turned Hedda’s head feathers purple giving her a punk-rock look for a while. But otherwise Welch’s first aid was successful.

In the driveway is a cedar chicken coop with laying beds and a free-run area. The chickens are secured in the coup and safe from predators when Welch is away. But the walk from the coop door to the front gate is a familiar one for the chickens. They know the way, waiting for Welch to open the gate and begin their afternoon foraging in the front yard.

“I really enjoy them,” Welch said, as her chickens scratch around the garden for a dirt bath.

And as for friendly Hedda, Honeybee, Rhodie, Cleo and Featherflop III, the feeling appears to be completely mutual.

For information on Baerg’s Chicks in the City class, see the North Seattle Community College Continuing Education website.

Urban-farming classes are also available through Seattle Tilth (

For more information on advocacy for farm animals, visit the HSUS website at

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a freelance pet columnist who writes the blog “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at

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