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1,000 Hens Get Out of Dodge

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Freedom Flight

1,000 Hens Get Out of Dodge 

Liberated from cages, 1,000 hens fly to freedom from Iowa to California

After a life spent in a cage so small, she could not spread her wings, life is looking up for Lily….23,000 feet up!

When Animal Place heard about an Iowa egg farm gassing most of its 140,000 hens, we felt compelled to help. The farmer was willing to release 1,000 birds to us. But how would we get them to California? 

We have space for 1,000 hens, but driving 30+ hours would be too long and hard on the hens.

And then a generous supporter stepped up. They offered to pay for a chartered flight to bring 1,000 hens home, including Lily. 

This is not the first time we have flown hens across the country. In 2013, we chartered a flight of 1,100 hens to sanctuaries across the country. 

Our team drove 125 poultry crates to the Truckee airport. Two caregivers joined the pilots and crates on the cross-country trip to Iowa. Another two caregivers drove from California to Iowa to meet up with them.. 

After a restless night at a nearby hotel, caregivers woke up early to begin liberating hens.

They were joined by a team from Hercules Haven, an Iowa-based sanctuary that also donated a truck and trailer for transport.

The team arrived in the early hours, and entered the shed. The dark building houses thousands of terrified birds. Each row was four tiers high with 10 hens in each cage. Live birds were left in cages with dead birds.

Most of the birds at the farm had already been killed, gassed to death and their bodies buried.

Staff and volunteers drove the birds to the Fort Dodge airport, where the birds were loaded into two awaiting chartered planes so the birds could get out of Dodge. 

Over the next few days, the hens will see and feel the sun for the first time. They will touch earth for the first time. We will share that with you.

The hens will receive health-checks and get prepared for adoption. Any hen with health problems or who need more specialized care will remain with us.

How to help:

Donate to the care of the hens!

Hens will be available for adoption in northern California only. Adoption application is available here.

If you want to help hens like these, the kindest choice you can make is to go vegan and opt out of this cruel practice.



56 Responses so far.

  1. Judy Goshman says:

    I’m in Wisconsin otherwise I would love to take 1 of your chickens I can no longer work due to health issues, but would like to send you a small amount of money to help the chickens. It is very sm as ll so maybe it isn’t worth it to you, but with my disability all I can send you is $5.00. Can I do this and if so, how do I get it to you?? You can answer at right here as a reply and I will do what I can. My PayPal account is messed up at this time, so I will have to send a check. Thanks!!

    • Peter Wood says:

      Hi Judy. I don’t work for Animal Place, but I would be happy to donate on your behalf. You have a great heart. I am sorry about your work/health situation. Please let me know what you think. Thanks. Peter

    • Natalija says:

      Hundreds of words of gratitude to your entire team and the person who paid for the transportation of rescued chickens on an airplane !!! I can not calm my tears !!

    • Carol Brandt says:

      God bless you, Judy. ❤ You’re an inspiration to me.

  2. Phyllis Jewell says:

    I have a hillside back yard with chicken coop in Marin County, CA, but have not had chickens for the past ~3 years. I’d be interested in adopting 3 to 5 chickens rescued from Iowa if you need help finding homes for them.

  3. KJ says:

    Judy, here is the mailing address. I am sure they would be happy to get any amount.

    Animal Place
    PO Box 1118
    Grass Valley, CA 95945

  4. Natalija says:

    Hundreds of words of gratitude to your entire team and the person who paid for the transportation of rescued chickens on an airplane !!! I can not calm my tears !!

  5. Anthony A Capobianco says:

    The only way to save chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals is to do away with factory farms, slaughterhouses, feed lots, and convince people to switch to a vegan diet. Otherwise, countless animals will live and die in horrific conditions forever more.

    • Claire C says:

      Agreed! We and other rescue organizations can’t save all of the animals suffering. That is why education is such a big part of our mission! We strive to educate the public on animal agriculture and promote a vegan diet. – Claire, Social Media Manager

  6. Sue Renz says:

    Its nice 1000 were my qiuestion is whar happened to the other 130,000??? and how did you decide who torescue and who to be put to death???

    • Claire C says:

      Unfortunately, most of the birds had already been killed by the time we arrived. We were also only able to handle taking 1,000. The truth is we cannot save them all, though we wish we could. Part of Animal Place’s mission is to educate the public on animal agriculture, and encourage individuals to go vegan. This is an act an individual can make to reduce harm to animals. – Claire, Social Media Manager

  7. Thank you on behalf of the surviors. Your work is selfless and inspiring.

  8. Ann M. Carp says:

    This is why I am a vegetarian. Thos e poor chickens, they all suffer during their
    short lives, like all food animals.
    So happy You could save 1000.

    • Claire C says:

      They really do suffer so much. 81% of hens used for their eggs live in cages. Thank you for your support! – Claire, Social Media Manager

  9. Mari Rodriguez says:

    Thank you for everything you do for animals! It always feels good to read of a rescue you are involved in amidst the sadness of whatever situation created the need for it. I wish it were safe to adopt chickens where we live, but it really isn’t. I’ll send a donation.

  10. Thank you for rescuing the birds. I am a member of PETA and I donate on a monthly basis. I am proud the money I donate goes for emergencies like this! Please keep up the good work!
    Conditions in a chicken farm is deplorable
    How can we help this situation through our government.

    • Claire C says:

      Thank you for your support! It really is. Chickens are incredibly mistreated. I recommend following ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund) and Social Compassion in Legislation. Both organizations are involved in protecting animals through law. Thanks, Claire, Social Media Manager

  11. nicole Mika says:

    How is this company not prosecuted for the horrible conditions these chickens were in? Let alone gassing them? We have to send a message this treatment is not acceptable. If it was a child, even a dog or cat they would be reprimanded.

    • Claire C says:

      We wish companies would be held accountable for animal cruelty. Sadly, this treatment of animals is very common in the animal agriculture industry. 81% of hens exploited for their eggs, live in cages. Part of Animal Place’s mission is to educate the public on this cruelty, and encourage them to protect animals, by going vegan. Thanks, Claire, Social Media Manager

  12. michael sisko says:

    Thank god that there are some real people out there !!

  13. Bill B. says:

    What a wonderful thing to do for these forsaken chickens. Just to feel ground under their feet, sun on their feathers, and freedom to roam is a miracle for them. Thanks to every one involved, and a special thanks to that ‘donor’ who is a good person.

    • Claire C says:

      Thank you Bill! We are so grateful to the donor, and everyone involved. Thanks, Claire, Social Media Manager

  14. Lana Verplank says:

    WOW! Such an amazing rescue! Thank you so much for saving this suffering hens from death and a miserable life. You are all truly angels!I am sharing this a tweeting. I know someone in N CALIF I will pass this to also. Can’t wait to see their first walk onto grass and fresh air!!!

  15. Glenna Palm says:

    Remember the bible story about the ‘widow’s mite’. No amount that comes from the heart is ever too small. God will bless and reward you.

  16. Na Neveratalie says:

    Thank you for saving these birds I wish you could save all the animals from these monsters

  17. Ted Dee says:

    This is so awesome! Such a blessing for the 1,000 hens you were able to save (and what an amazing donor + teamwork involved to do this)! I hope they are all adopted into loving homes 🙂

    • Claire C says:

      We agree! We are so thankful to everyone involved, and happy these hens can finally live in freedom! Thanks, Claire, Social Media Manager

  18. Beth Doherty says:

    Thank you so very much for all you do for the animals. Thank you to for the safe flight for these dear helpless creatures. Love to all of you.

  19. Luz E Rodriguez says:

    Thank you very much for caring for the defenseless animals. I really don’t like the way they get killed. Put in small cages filled with chickens no room to move it’s extremely sad what they go through

    • Claire C says:

      Thank you for your support! We don’t like it either, chickens are incredibly mistreated. That is a large reason why we encourage people to not support the animal agriculture industry. Thanks, Claire, Social Media Manager

  20. Trajan Cainaru says:

    Poor animals sufferingf from abuse. Thank you for saving them!

  21. Carmela Tedrick says:

    God bless you for all that you do to help defenseless animals. Your staff are earth angels. We, the good human beings, that have compassion have to step up and help protect animals. They cannot help themselves. I am so proud of all the work that you all do.

    • Claire C says:

      Thank you so much Carmela. Your support means so much! We are grateful to everyone protecting animals. Thanks, Claire, Social Media Manager

  22. it is very important to save any living animal!

  23. Jill Roberts says:

    Thank you so much Animal Place for saving 1000 precious lives ! Its incredible. I wish I had the space to take 2 or 3. Love to you all , your strength and compassion is beautiful!

  24. JOHN MANLEY says:

    I would like 5-6 chickens but l cant find where you are and how to get them.

    • Claire C says:

      Hi John! Sorry for the delayed response. All of the hens have found homes! We are located in California. We will do other rescues in the future, and if you are interested in adopting hens in the future, you can submit an application here. http://animalplace.org/adoptable-chickens/ Thanks, Claire – Social Media Manager

  25. Do you ever bring any hens down to southern CA?
    I use to adopt them but can’t seem to remember the name of the organization

  26. Carol-Anne Weed says:

    I gave up eating meat of any kind 30+ years ago and have never regretted doing so and constantly am grateful that I did.

  27. Judy G. and others: Thank you for you kindnesses. I believe this is one of the great animal organizations and I am sure that all who are interested may want to visit when the covid-19 threat has finally passed or there is a vaccine. The original place is near Grass Valley, northern California. Another place exists at Petaluma, Calif. You may check out for details for visiting at the appropriate time later. I invite you to join my wife and I to perhaps include Animal Place in your will or Living Trust. May our animal brothers and sisters live out their intended years!

  28. […] and from malnutrition as the farm had cut costs by feeding them less. Each hen has now been given the chance to live as individuals in Grass Valley, California at Animal Place, one of the oldest and largest […]