From visiting children’s hospitals to nursing homes to veteran centers, therapy animals brighten up the lives of countless people. Studies have shown that animal companionship, even visits with animals, can be beneficial for the elderly. Dogs and cats are usually the animals that come to mind when discussing therapy animals, but pigs and alpacas are also therapy animals. And now we have a feathered friend to add to the list – a chicken! Oh, and she wears a tutu.

Darla is a silkie chicken who was adopted when she was just three-weeks-old from a farm in Troy, Virginia by seven-year-old Finn Proctor. “My son had found her … looking very, very sick and he didn’t want to leave without taking her home,” explained Ericka Proctor.

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Erika is the founder of a nonprofit organization that focuses on training therapy animals called Green Dogs Unleashed, so after meeting Darla, she decided to train her as a therapy chicken.

Darla brightens people’s day and educates the community on how to treat animals more humanely – all while wearing a very stylish tutu. 

“Darla is just so friendly, we started using her to do humane education,” Proctor explained. “We’re able to teach others about the care of animals and compassion for animals and how chickens can be pets too.”

 

 

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According to Proctor, humane education is lacking in the current school system, so Darla goes with her to schools and camps to help teach kids about compassion and caring for all animals.

Adopting Darla has not only brought joy to the Proctor family but has also opened their hearts. After loving this sweet chicken, the whole family decided to go vegetarian. “It’s brought a whole new level of compassion. There’s now 25 chickens and they all have names, they all have personalities. They’re our pets,”said Proctor.

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This incredible fact is hardly surprising considering chickens are highly intelligent and affectionate animals. They can solve complex problems, understand cause and effect relationships, and even anticipate and plan for the future. Chickens experience REM sleep, which means they can dream. They’re also amazing mothers and very caring family members.

Perhaps if more people knew all these things about chickens, they would see them as more than just a commodity. Please share this post with others and help everyone see chickens as smart, affectionate and feeling individuals who deserve to live in peace.

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Image Source: Green Dogs Unleashed/Facebook

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