SEQUIM — A young, deformed chicken is in new surroundings with a new name and, well, some new attire.
Polly Pocket, who came from a batch of about 120 chickens to The Farm in Sequim last October, is getting plenty of attention and some helping hands at the Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.
Polly came to the farm off Sequim-Dungeness Way with two deformed legs.
Jennifer Jabs, who co-owns The Farm, found a new home for the then-unnamed chick (nicknamed “Little One”) through her brother Jeff, who works at the sanctuary. The chick made the 19-hour trek to the facility in late January.
Lauren Ross, a lifesaving specialist at Best Friends, said last week that Polly is adjusting well to her new environs.
“It’s kind of uncommon,” Ross said of Polly’s disability. “Sometimes it’s brought on by not having proper nutrition or they’re born that way. We think she came out of the egg that way.
“This is not something that goes away or corrects itself,” Ross said. “But she has a good quality of life otherwise.”
Ross and staff have utilized a number of strategies to help Polly get mobile — including a pair of chicken pants.
Brianna Vlach, also a lifesaving specialist at the sanctuary, had the idea that some material around Polly’s undercarriage could help stabilize her legs.
Ross’ mother crochets, so she asked her mom for some help in making a set of pants particularly fitted for Polly Pocket.
The staff also made a kind of splint out of tongue depressors and duct tape to further help straighten out Polly’s legs.
Polly wears them only part of the day, Ross said.
“It’s like physical therapy; we don’t want her to get caught up on something,” she said.
Each animal that comes to Best Friends is unique, Ross said, so staff have to get creative with equipment and treatments.
The big concern for Polly, Ross said, is that, as she gets older, her legs may simply not be able to handle her weight, so staff is coming up with a kind of modified wheelchair.
“I think that’s very doable,” Ross said.
Barbara Williamson, media relations manager for the Best Friends Animal Society, said Polly is with other domestic birds in the “Wild Friends” section at the 3,700-acre-plus sanctuary. The section, she noted, is for wildlife rehabilitation as well as to care for and adoption of domestic birds and other species.
Though she’s generally kept to herself in a building lobby at Best Friends, Ross said she has some neighbors nearby: two pigeons, a tortoise and a squirrel.
The goal in the end is to adopt Polly to a family who can watch over her, Ross said. To that end, staff agree that Polly is often quite comfortable being a “lap chicken.”
As for the name?
“We kind of just all voted on it,” Ross said.
“It’s like she’s going to be like a pocket chicken.”
Said Ross: “She’s very tolerant of the things we want to try with her. She’s a sweetheart. She’s a fighter.”
Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends representatives say the organization has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to about 625,000.
Best Friends runs lifesaving programs all across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary — known as a “home-between-homes” for about 1,600 rescued dogs and cats, horses, birds, rabbits, potbellied pigs, farm animals and assorted wildlife.
Those interested can visit in person or online at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-AnimalSanctuary.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].