Candlelight vigil to be held for June, chickens tonight outside of Perdue in Milford

MILFORD – A vigil will be held tonight in Milford in memory of June who lost his life Thursday after a truck crashed upstate early Wednesday morning on Route 301.

June the chicken was the only survivor found by volunteers from Liberation Philadelphia who scoured the area searching for life amidst the tragic scene on the highway after a truck filled with live chickens dumped its passengers during the accident. He later died after veterinarians tried to save his life.

“It was just a horror story out there,” Mary Kate Fain said. “There were just body parts everywhere. It smelled like a slaughter house. There was blood and guts everywhere. We were pretty sure no one was left. But there was a patch of woods where we saw something.”

Hidden in a patch of thorns was June.

Ms. Fain and other volunteers cut through the thorns to pull him to safety, hoping he was the one to survive the crash.

“He looked pretty okay from the top. But then I realized that my fingers were going inside of him and he was just covered in blood,” she explained.

The group took June to Mount Laurel Animal Hospital where they have taken other rescued animals in the past. It didn’t look good for the young chicken.

June stayed at the hospital overnight for observation, but his wounds from the crash were too severe.

“He declined over night. He had a broken keel bone; it’s under the chest and allows him to breath. So, he was already struggling to breath. He had an infection from sitting out there, by the time we got there, for 13 hours. He had a massive laceration on his chest. It went so deep that when I went to the vet, I saw that they had cut him open to go deeper during surgery, but they were like, ‘No, that’s how it was,’” Ms. Fain said.

“It went sepsis. It became terminal at that point. It had gotten into his lungs with no way to flush it out and, at that point, he passed away during surgery. There was nothing we could do even with all the money in the world. They said his injuries were pretty common to what happens when a dog gets hit by a car.”

Along with Liberation Philadelphia volunteers, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary Gene Baur spoke out, as well. Farm Sanctuary is “America’s leading farm animal protection organization,” according to the organization.

“We were saddened to hear about the chickens who were injured and killed in Wednesday morning’s transport accident on Route 301 in Delaware. We urge authorities to allow all of the surviving chickens the opportunity to recover from this traumatic ordeal at a sanctuary,” he said. “This crash reminds us that billions of other chickens suffer silently outside of public view. Farm animals endure intolerable cruelty every day in factory farms, slaughterhouses and in transit, and their abuse is largely hidden. If you’d like to help prevent this kind of animal cruelty, please consider decreasing your consumption of meat, dairy, and other animal products.”

In memory of June and chickens of a similar fate, Liberation Philadelphia has organized a vigil for tonight to be held just outside of the Perdue Farms facility in Milford, Delaware at 6 p.m.

“Usually our vigils are more like funeral style. So, there might be people doing eulogies for the animals. We really recognize that these were individuals. And we’ll be able to watch these thousands of animals coming into the plant via trucks going to their death while we’re there,” Ms. Fain said.

There will be candles, flowers and signs to see from the roadside, she added. Although there might be a few speeches, the evening will be mostly silent as they mourn the loss of lives.

“I think something that is really easy to be desensitized to. It’s in our culture; it’s normal. Every single one of these chickens is an individual with their own interests, personalities and will to live,” Ms. Fain said passionately.

“Imagine a truck full of 6-week-old kittens, because that’s how old these chickens are when they go to be slaughtered. If one was rescued and all the rest died? We love some animals so much and then there’s other animals that we’re taught is just objects. We truly believe it’s normal because we’re brought up in this and we’re so wrapped up in this culture we believe it. I would just encourage people to be open minded. What would you do for that cat or dog or other animal because really they’re no different.”

Liberation Philadelphia “seeks to raise awareness for the individuals abused and killed in the animal agriculture industries, shining a light on violence and openly standing in opposition to it,” according to its website.

Perdue Farms, Inc., Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Andrea Staub acknowledged Wednesday morning’s crash and released the following statement: “Early Wednesday morning, a truck operated by a contractor was transporting live chickens from a farm to our Milford, Delaware, harvest facility and was involved in a single-vehicle accident. Unfortunately, the transport modules holding the chickens came loose from the trailer during the accident. In the event of an unlikely traffic accident, one of our Poultry Care Officers, along with trained associates, are dispatched to the scene to recover and assess the chickens, humanely euthanizing injured birds to prevent suffering. We want anyone who finds one of our chickens to notify us immediately so that we can properly care for the animal.”


Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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