And now she hangs out with her rooster friend Phillip who is recovering from surgery to correct a slipped tendon. They’re great for each other – when one stands the other stands and Hetty finds comfort hiding under Phillip’s wing as she would do with her mother.
This is the story of a young “layer” hen who was injured by a rock-throwing child. She was found almost motionless by our friend and long-time supporter Steve Stehwein, who upon hearing about her and her injured state, jumped in his car and made the 90-minute trip with her to our shelter, the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, in Woodstock, NY. Upon arrival we gently lifted her from the cardboard box she’d traveled in and laid her out on our vet table. She was unable to stand or even move her legs.
She lay weak and on her side in an awkward position, just barely able to keep her head and upper body upright. Her eyes frequently closed from exhaustion and hunger. In order to have a better look at her legs and lower body we began cutting away at the giant poop clumps that clung to her little bottom – that’s when when we saw the maggots-and lots of them.
I spent the next hour treating her wounds, administering fluids and antibiotics, and with tweezers in hand, pulled off around 100 maggots. She was infested-and they had bored through her skin creating deep wounds. Flies like to lay their eggs in poop and when an animal is incapacitated and lying in its own feces, its the perfect breeding ground for maggots.
We named her Hetty, after a dedicated volunteer. She was skin and bones – totally emaciated – unwilling and unable to eat. Exhausted as she was, we had to get food in her. We began the ritual of making her a special “mash” from an assortment of high-fat foods, vitamins and electrolytes. That first day she had to be syringe fed but by the next morning she started picking at a food bowl held close to her mouth, falling asleep between each bite. We were overjoyed. We began offering food every hour, encouraging her to eat as much as she could to regain her strength.
A quick trip to the vet for X-rays showed that no bones were broken, so the damage was most likely nerved based. Having dealt with nerve damage before, we started standing her up to eat with the support of our hands, then standing her in a sling made of a small canvas shopping bag with a cut out for her legs, head and a “poop chute.” We put her through physical therapy every 3 hours. The work began paying off and shortly after we started noticing attempts to stand on her own! The first time we witnessed it my staff and I stood around the table with tears in our eyes hugging each other and praising her miraculous efforts. We had all been rooting for her and were hoping to see some glimmer of a chance that she might walk again. This was it.
Today she is not only standing on her own, with wings spread to help her balance, but she is also taking a few steps with each attempt. And now she hangs out with her rooster friend Phillip who is recovering from surgery to correct a slipped tendon. They’re great for each other – when one stands the other stands and Hetty finds comfort hiding under Phillip’s wing as she would do with her mother. Sweet Hetty is on the mend.