Talk about some lucky ducks. Only this time they were lucky chickens. Rescue organization Animal Place just saved some very fortunate chickens who were about to be  "depopulated", and let them fly away to safety!

The story of how these 1,000 birds "Got the heck out of Dodge" is told on the non-profit site's website. Amid COVID-19, there are very few happy tales of resilience and joyful outcomes. This is a rare feel-good tale of 1,000 rescued chickens that were liberated and flown to safety by animal activists-- we suggest you read it while enjoying your JUST Egg sandwich, made out of healthy plant-based mung bean protein.

The action played out like a scene out of a movie: Charter two planes, fly a rescue mission to save the innocents, but this time the passengers were not hostages from some war-torn country, but 1,000 chickens, who were liberated from an egg farm in Fort  Dodge, Iowa to a safe haven sanctuary in California. The organization that paid for the flights was Animal Place, hiring two planes that were paid for by a generous (and anonymous) donor.

The Iowa egg farm had come on tough times, during the lack of demand for eggs due to COVID-19 shutdowns across the country, and was intending to send some of its 100,000 hens to the gas chambers for population control. This euthanizing practice is more routine than you'd ever want to imagine since the COVID-19 pandemic demand for eggs has plummetted. With schools closed, hotels shuttered and major office building cafeterias dark, the demand for eggs and dairy has dropped precipitously, meaning farmers can't unload their stock fast enough before it goes bad. And no chicken feed means no more chickens.

In a good turn of events, this egg farm decided to let in the animal activists, who were determined to rescue the hens, as they alerted Animal Place, which is like the SEAL Team 6 of animal rescue extractions.

The Animal Place team drove for over a day to get to the farm, where they were met by a coordinating team of locals and the birds were removed. Many had been held in cages without food -- some didn't make it -- and the lucky ones got to hop the flight west.

"The entire process, from the 27-hour drive, arriving at the farm at 3 am, loading and unloading full crates from the planes and vehicles, and going straight to caring for them once we arrived at the sanctuary was the most exhausting experience I’ve ever had,” Animal Place Animal Care Director Hannah Beins recalls. “I would do it again in a heartbeat, because until their rescue, these hens never got to touch grass or feel the sunshine, and now they can live out the rest of their lives as chickens should.”

The birds are now being nursed to health in a no-kill sanctuary in California awaiting permanent adoption, so if you live in California and want to love and care for chickens,  get in touch with the organization. (Any birds too ill for adoption will stay and get cared for at Animal Place.) “Given the distance and the logistics, our staff and supporters had to step up even more than usual,” Animal Place Executive Director Kim Sturla said. “Unfortunately, not even we can take in 100,000 hens, which is a drop in the bucket of the hundreds of million hens killed annually by the egg industry, even in a typical year without a global pandemic.”

To honor the 1,000 hens saved, Animal Place is serving 1,000 vegan lunches to local farm families.

For the full story, read it in VegNews. Curious about what JUST Egg is doing to make it even easier to enjoy delicious plant-based  "egg" products? Check out their latest partnership, covered by The Beet.

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