An animal lover saved 4,000 chickens from certain death after raising 2,400 pounds (US$3,150) in 36 hours to stop the truck that was coming to take them to the slaughterhouse.
Sanctuary owner Melanie James sprang into action when she answered the Facebook appeal of a local farmer who was re-homing 1,000 hens at the end of their egg-laying careers.
However, Melanie discovered the farmer had a further 3,000 chickens that were destined for the food chain as part of a contract with a haulage firm.
The dedicated animal lover, who had decided to take on as many chickens as she could through her sanctuary, became determined to take in all 4,000. Commercial laying hens are only kept until 72 weeks old when egg production and quality declines.
The 43-year-old said: “The farmer told me if I wanted to save more than 1,000 then I would have to save all 4,000 because he had to supply a certain quota to fulfill his contract.
“I already had enough money for the first 1,000 hens but now I needed to find another £2,400 to save the other 3,000.
“The farmer said this would have to be sorted in the next couple of days as he would need to let the contractor know.
“My mom always says I act first and think later and I just blurted out that I would do it—I would take them all.
“I then had a moment when I had to think about what I’d set myself up for and how I was supposed to do it.”
Melanie, who has seven cats and three dogs, started a GoFundMe page to raise the 2,400 pounds for 3,000 chickens required to stop the truck.
The farmer was charging 80 pence (US$1.04) a chicken and, amazingly, she raised the whole lot in 36 hours.
Melanie, who runs Ani-Mel Haven Animal Sanctuary in the small seaside town of Silloth, Cumbria, said: “The pressure was really on so I did a big push on social media.
“The response was amazing. We got donations from all over this country and all over the world—even Barbados and the United States.
“One person donated £1,000 (approx. $1,300) and another donated £700 (approx. $920).”
Next, the pressure she dealt with was to sell the chickens and transport them. So, she sought help from sanctuary owner Emma Kelt of the Maryport charity “Forever Friends,” who helped with deliveries.
Melanie, whose boyfriend, Kevin Murdoch, 49, helps out with the animals, has been selling the chickens for 1 pound (US$1.31) each.
She said: “We did get some people saying they were from a slaughterhouse and we refused to sell to them, because, of course, that was defeating the object.
“We had some complaints about selling them for £1 but we had to add that extra 20p for us to cover transport costs.”
The only downside to Melanie’s mission is that usually she saves a turkey every year but she has not had a chance so far, being so busy with the chickens.
Luckily for Melanie, the farmer is now retiring—so she won’t have to do this again.
“The farmer has been great throughout all this,” Melanie said. “He has really helped us and been patient, waiting for our fundraising and even housing a lot of the hens until we found them homes.”
Melanie was raised as an animal lover as her dad, Bill, now 73, would often rescue sick animals. She turned this into a career for herself and houses her sanctuary on the grounds of her dad’s garden center business.
Melanie rescues any abused, neglected, and abandoned animals, birds, waterfowl, and wildlife.
She has taken two of the hens into her own home as she couldn’t bear to sell them all and has named them Audrey Henburn and Albert Eggstein.
She said: “I love all animals, you get to see they all have their own personalities.
“I am not a vegetarian but I don’t think I could eat a chicken again after going through this.”
Melanie is always looking for donations to her charity and is currently looking to build a therapy center.
If you wish to donate, visit www.ani-melhaven.co.uk.
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