Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Chickens are Missing

Or are they? This explains things.

Tuesday May 3, 2005

To the Key West City Commission

I am Katha Sheehan, captain of the volunteer Rooster Rescue Team and owner of the Chicken Store, 1229 Duval.

When I first heard of this proposal to name the chicken the official bird of the City of Key West, I was thrilled. Chickens were brought here by some of the earliest settlers, and have served the human population long and well. They have earned this great privilege not by being beautiful and fragile, but the hard way, by living and dying for our benefit. It behooves us to honor them in this way.

But someone in this room has beytrayed the chickens. The City of Key West has for more than two years been sending captured neighborhood chickens out of town, telling us they are going to a "farm" which is a "paradise on earth" where they will "live out their days" eating bugs. I am here to tell you it is a lie.

On April 21 I took Bubba, a rooster given to me by former City Chicken Catcher Armando Parra, and went to the Gastell Farms property in Miramar, by the Broward county landfill. My goal was to give Bubba the retirement that all chickens dream of, running free in the woods. But as much as he called, amid the fumes of burning plastic, he could find no chicken retirement community to join. We returned to Key West.

I thought I had made a mistake or maybe Assistant City Manager John Jones had marked the wrong area on the plat. My husband, Roy Stone Jr., then went to see him and got directions that narrowed down the area. On April 29 he went there himself but he found no Key West chickens whatsoever. We are forced to conclude that someone has lied to us all these past two years.

What pains me the most is that I stood by and let it happen. One day I happened to be at the Wildlife Rescue station when the chickens were loaded for Miramar. I will never forget their screams and how they looked up to me out of the cage in the bed of the marroon pickup truck, as if calling, "What is to become of us? Where are we going?" It put me in mind of pictures I had seen from long ago, the faces looking out of boxcars.

I tried to follow, but the chicken truck eluded me. Unable to get away and explore its destination, I hoped for the best. I wanted to believe that the people who run for office in this town, and the people who work for City Hall, are people of good intentions, people of their word. But now I know. It was a lie, and somebody lied to us.

Government officials have special power, and lying is pernicious. How will we thrive, if we cannot trust at their word those who govern us? An official who gets away with a lie, and obtains power by it, becomes a tyrant and a predator. It must be stopped.

I cannot say who has betrayed our trust, but I will say this: unless this liar is exposed and eliminated from City Hall, I cannot condone the celebration of a ChickenFest. How can we dance in the streets, while the City deports its gypsy chickens to an uncertain fate?

I don't expect a grand jury to investigate the fate of some street chickens. I hope however that the press will want as badly as I do to discover the fate of our lost birds. And I am appealing to everyone in the USA who loves chickens and our Southernmost City, to boycott this festival and the City of Key West until the author of this sickening fraud is revealed and deposed.

Anyone interested in seeing our film of the "Paradise for Chickens--Not!!!" is invited to come to the Chicken Store or visit our website.

City officials maintain that the chickens removed by the official chicken catcher are living out their retirement in comfort and have offered to lead the press on a tour of the farm in Miramar where they are supposed to be located.

Here's an earlier article describing the chicken relocation program.

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