SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Dwight and Wright are best friends, taking hikes together every day. Carmine is more of a loner, preferring to spend his time observing the goings-on of pigeons. Chauncer likes to chatter and will start a conversation with almost anyone.
Dwight, Wright, Carmine, and Chauncer are all roosters recently rescued from a breeder of birds for cockfighting. They now live at VINE Sanctuary, a farmed animal refuge in Vermont that was the first to rehabilitate roosters rescued from cockfighting.
VINE’s groundbreaking work with roosters was highlighted in the Jan. 22 edition of the New York Times Magazine, in an article about the breeding of birds for cockfighting, illustrated by photos of rescued roosters at the Vermont sanctuary.
All chickens are descended from junglefowl, who still forage in the forests of South Asia today. Many roosters used in cockfighting are genetically indistinguishable from wild junglefowl. In wild and feral flocks, roosters cooperate with one another to keep the whole group safe. Elders teach youngsters how to behave. Roosters raised in captivity rarely have the opportunity for such learning. Roosters used in cockfighting are unsocialized, and often traumatized birds, who fight because they are frightened, not due to any innate aggressiveness.
Prior to VINE’s path breaking development of a rooster rehabilitation protocol, roosters seized from cockfighting were automatically euthanized without any effort to rehome them. Now, sanctuaries around the world use this protocol, and authorities have begun to seek placements before euthanizing rescued roosters.
According to VINE Sanctuary co-founder Pattrice Jones, “Stereotypes about roosters hurt birds and humans alike. We hope that this article will prompt people to learn the truth about roosters and rethink the harmful ideas about masculinity that lead to this form of animal abuse.” In addition to rescuing, rehabilitating, and advocating for rooters, VINE helps other sanctuaries to do the same, sharing expertise and resources via The Rooster Project.
VINE Sanctuary is an LGBTQ-led refuge that works for social and environmental justice while caring for hundreds of rescued animals. VINE offers humane education programs for children, a book club for animal advocates, the “Rainbow Vegan Challenge,” and a podcast featuring prominent authors, artists, and activists.