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Tiverton Rescue Saves Reality-show Chickens from Possible Trip to Slaughterhouse

January 29, 2024

By Jack Perry

A Tiverton animal rescue group is finding homes for several chickens after handling "a strange and urgent rescue situation" involving a streaming reality show, the agency says.

The West Place Animal Sanctuary on Saturday removed 10 chickens from a house in Cumberland, where they appeared in the online show Fishtank Live, according to Patrick Cole, director of development and communications for West Place Animal Sanctuary.

The animal sanctuary was alerted to a possible problem with chickens when the agency was contacted on Thursday by a viewer who claimed the show released 10 live chickens in the house and intended to abuse them, Cole said.

Concerned viewer contacted West Place Animal Sanctuary

"According to the complainant, the contestants on the show were 'ashing their cigarettes on them' and verbally mentioned abuse," Cole wrote in an email.

In looking into the situation, West Place did not see any evidence of abuse in the videos, but decided to rescue them to save them from a potential trip to the slaughterhouse or from being set loose, Cole said in an interview Monday.

"We didn't see any abuse or cruelty. It was more the threat," Cole said.

Worker feared birds would be sent back to slaughterhouse

A short time after West Place was contacted by the viewer, a member of the show's production team also called the agency, saying she wanted their help in saving the chickens, Cole said.

"According to her, the chickens were purchased from a slaughterhouse/butcher in Federal Hill in Providence," Cole wrote. "They were released inside the house for a comedy bit, but when the producers didn’t think it was funny, they ordered the birds to be returned to the slaughterhouse."

The production team member "wanted to find another option, especially since the producers discussed abandoning the domestic birds outside or leaving them on the highway," Cole wrote. "Their goal was to get rid of the birds by today (Saturday) since they are wrapping up the show today and plan to do demolition work inside the house."

Representatives of West Bay Animal Sanctuary went to the house Saturday and found the chickens in the garage "surrounded by cardboard boxes being used as a makeshift pen," according to Cole, who said he did not see any signs of abuse.

Cumberland Police Chief Matthew Benson on Monday said via email that the Police Department didn't have any complaints or calls for service regarding animals at the home.

West Place gets strong response to social media post

West Place says it will keep some of the chickens but can't keep them all. The agency put a message on social media this weekend and got a strong response from people interested in taking the chickens, Cole said.

West Place has enough volunteers to take the chickens, but people can still contact the agency in case some of those placements fall through, Cole said. The best way to contact them is by phone (401) 228-6800 or email at

West Place will quarantine all of the birds for two weeks to ensure they are not sick with avian flu or another disease that could be transmitted to the center's rescue animals. The West Bay sanctuary is also asking for donations to help with their rescue efforts. Donations can be made at


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