Overview of the move: In the summer of 2009, the Eastern Shore Sanctuary will relocate its primary site to Springfield, Vermont while retaining a local presence — and the ability to rescue local birds — through a partnership with a reliable sanctuary on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Why are you moving?
By making this move, we will be able to sustainably expand our operations while still staying true to our original purpose.
Running the sanctuary solo, which she has done since 2007, proved unsustainable for co-founder pattrice jones. We looked for, but were unable to find, a couple to take over the day-to-day management of the sanctuary. Just as our best prospect for that fell through, our well failed, reminding us of the many shortfalls of this property. While we were able to install a fix for the well, declining water tables in the region ensure that another such crisis is around the corner. In addition, the property is small — it was not bought with a sanctuary in mind — limiting the number and kind of animals we are able to shelter and making it very difficult to keep the foraging yards refreshed.
Co-founder Miriam Jones, who had lived on the sanctuary from 2000 through 2006 and has continued to volunteer several days each month, was willing to take over the sanctuary but unwilling to stay in a community where she has faced bias crime and discrimination as a non-Christian and person of Arab descent. When we realized that (a) we have been rescuing fewer and fewer local birds due to the poultry industry’s changes in its transport procedures, and (b) we would be able to partner with another sanctuary to ensure that local birds will continue to find sanctuary, we decided that we could make a move without going back on our promise to offer sanctuary to any local “broiler” chicken who finds his or her way to freedom.
There are no farmed animal sanctuaries in Vermont. Vermont is adjacent to Maine, home of the infamous DeCoster egg facilities. Furthermore, Vermont is dairy country, with 33 factory farms crowded into a small state. In recent years, we have come to see dairy — like eggs — as a feminist issue that might be productively approached from the perspective of the intersection of oppressions. This new location will allow us to, over time, expand our focus to include dairy-related activism and perhaps even the rescue of a small number of cows.
What’s better about the new property?
Like the old property, the use of the new property will be donated, relieving the sanctuary of the obligation of rent or mortgage payments. The new property is larger and will thus allow us to offer sanctuary to more birds. Like all sanctuaries that rescue chickens, we are aware of the glaring need for room for roosters. Over the years, we have been more willing than any other sanctuary to take in multiple roosters, but we had reached our limit. This new property will allow us to take in more roosters almost immediately and, over time, will allow us to expand the number of former fighting roosters we are able to rescue and rehabilitate. This new property is adjacent to an even larger property that, in future, we will be able to purchase in order to allow the rescue of more and/or larger animals.
Who will care for the animals at the new place?
The new sanctuary site will be staffed by Miriam Jones and Aram Polster, with help from local volunteers. Miriam Jones is a co-founder of Eastern Shore Sanctuary. She lived on the main site of the sanctuary from 2000 through 2006; since then, she and Aram have run a small over-flow sanctuary on nearby Smith Island while Miriam has returned to the main site to volunteer for several days each month. Miriam thus has many years of experience caring for domestic fowl and managing a sanctuary. Aram is an experienced veterinary technician with many years of experience providing health care to birds and other animals; Aram has also volunteered at several farmed animal sanctuaries, including the Eastern Shore Sanctuary.
Together, Miriam and Aram as a team will be able to provide superlative care for the animals while managing all of the day-to-day operations of the sanctuary. Sanctuary co-founder pattrice jones will continue to participate from off-site, shifting her focus to the “education center” side of our operations. In order to ensure that her work remains grounded in the real lives and concerns of the birds, she will visit frequently and also volunteer with Chicken Run Rescue in her new home of Minneapolis.
What about the local birds?
The Eastern Shore Sanctuary began when we rescued a local “broiler” chicken from the roadside. At the time, it was not uncommon for birds who had jumped or fallen from transport trucks to be found on the roadside. We would typically find (or take in from a local citizen who had found) at least one bird every week. Over the years, that number has declined due to new crates and procedures used by the local poultry industry. We have not ourselves found a roadside bird for many years, and typically take in a local bird only once every several months. The majority of the calls we receive, like the majority of the birds at the sanctuary, are now from elsewhere.
Nonetheless, we remain committed to making sure that every local roadside bird finds sanctuary. We will be partnering with Sanctuary House to ensure that happens. Sanctuary House is run by Sister Mary Winifred of the Ascension Hermitage and Sanctuary. We have known Sister Mary for five years, and find her to be a person of unquestionable compassion and intergrity. Ascension Hermitage and Sanctuary is a nearby 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has offered sanctuary to many local animals, including ducks and chickens, for many years. Sister Mary Winifred is a certified wildlife rehabilitator as well as the author of a book about the cats of Sanctuary House.
Calls from local citizens who have rescued local birds from the roadside will now go to Sanctuary House. Callers will be told of nearby sanctuaries such as United Poultry Concerns (on the Eastern Shore of Virginia) and Poplar Spring (near the upper Shore, across the bay in Maryland). Callers who do not wish to make the drive to those places will be able to bring birds to Sanctuary House, which is setting aside a barn for that purpose, where they will stay until we arrange volunteer transport to permanent sanctuary with us or another farmed animal sanctuary.
What about the Delmarva poultry industry?
We remain committed to working for local agriculture reform on the Delmarva and other regions dominated by industrial animal agriculture. Having operated for nine years in a rural region ruled by the poultry industry and now moving into another region in which local livelihoods are linked to factory farming, we are more aware than most that the liberation of animals will require close attention to the mechanics of local agriculture reform.
As outsiders on the Delmarva, the founders of the Eastern Shore Sanctuary were not able to effectively enact the community organizing side of that project; such work must be done by insiders in these insular rural regions. Rather than trying to do work for which our identities make us inherently unsuited, we can be more effective by attending to state and national policy and by sparking and supporting local activism on the Delmarva and elsewhere through a variety of research, education, and advocacy projects. Freed from the demands of day-to-day sanctuary work, co-founder pattrice jones will be better able to implement such efforts.
Do you need help with the move?
Yes! We will need help both before and after the move. Of course, moving is costly, so donations will be especially appreciated at this time of transition. After the move, we still will be in a rural agricultural region and thus still will rely on donations from afar. As we always have been, we will be far from a big city and thus unable to stage fancy fund-raising events and will thus hope for our supporters who live in more densely populated regions to do things like hold fund-raising pot-luck dinners for the birds.
We also need volunteers before and after the move. We will be relying on volunteer drivers to help us transport the birds and the sanctuary equipment to the new location. After, we will need volunteer drivers to help both with ensuring that Delmarva birds find sanctuary and to ferry roosters from all over to us.
To donate via PayPal, click the link below. To offer to volunteer, write to sanctuary (at) bravebirds.org.