In the basement of Bushwick house, about 100 chickens are awaiting new homes after being rescued from the streets of Brooklyn last week.
"He was found in a crate with about fifteen other chickens just on the side of the highway," Alexa Stone says.
Stone and her friend Rocky Schwartz rescued the chickens, which were originally purchased for a custom called Kaporos practiced by some Orthodox Jews shortly before Yom Kippur. The chicken is circled around one's head three times while a prayer is said to transfer sins to the bird. A butcher then slaughters the chicken.
"There are about 60,000 or so baby chickens who are killed each year on the streets of the city, really all throughout Brooklyn," Schawrtz says.
Some of the birds ultimately are not slaughtered for reasons such as a congenital defect. Schwartz and her team seek to rescue and rehabilitate them.
"We are basically just a group of volunteers who have concern for these birds,” Schwartz says. “Many of us have some sort of medical background, care background. And we basically try to help as many of these birds as we can to get them urgent care."
While some go directly to a veterinarian, most are brought to the Brooklyn basement-turned-makeshift-triage-center and recovery room. Short-term care is offered there until chickens are stable enough to be transported to a sanctuary. Schwartz asked that NY1 not reveal the location. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle first reported the existence of the basement rescue center; NY1 obtained the first video.
"They can actually live up to ten years old and live a really long, quality, happy, healthy life," Stone says.
"Here they are a week after the killing is done and you can see they're full of life,” Schawrtz says. “Each one has a different personality that we began to learn over the past week. Each of them is so deserving of the future that's ahead of them at the sanctuary homes."
Schwartz has kept a handful of the rescued birds over the years. She named one of them Phoenix. The chicken was rescued from a crate on a Borough Park street in 2017.
"She was basically on top of the crate in the process of dying,” Schwartz says.
For others that get transported to sanctuaries as far away as Oregon, this team says they continue to monitor the progress of the rescued chickens. And they have a website for those who want to provide a home. It's adoptakaporossurvivor.com.