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Animal Rescue Groups Save More Than a Dozen Ducks Neglected in the Yard of a Forest Hills Home

LION founder and president John Di Leonardo with the goose and ducks rescued from Forest Hills (LION via Facebook)

Jan. 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A pair of animal rescue groups saved more than a dozen ducks last week that were allegedly neglected for years in the yard of a Forest Hills home.

Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) and New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) rescued 16 Muscovy and runner ducks and an Embden goose from a home located across from Forest Hills High School.

The birds, according to LION founder John Di Leonardo, were discovered sleeping outside on a bed of frozen feces at a time when the temperatures dropped below freezing. He said that the birds were also living on stale bagels and moldy bread and their drinking water was frozen.

“These ducks were being illegally kept in neglectful, cruel conditions, without shelter in below-freezing temperatures in what was basically a small-scale slaughter operation,” Di Leonardo wrote on Facebook.

Di Leonardo, who is also an anthrozoologist, said neighbors had been calling the city for months to try to get the animals to safety until he intervened on Tuesday.

“With temperatures dropping, we couldn’t wait for the authorities to act anymore,” Di Leonardo said in a video posted to Facebook.

He added that the ducks are not built to endure freezing temperatures.

“Muscovy ducks are endemic to South and Central America and are especially prone to frostbite and hypothermia when exposed to our harsh winters,” Di Leonardo told the Queens Post.

He and other volunteers convinced the owner to surrender five of the birds that day. They came and collected the remaining 12 ducks two days later.

The birds are now recovering at LION’s Riverhead shelter and will be placed in permanent homes. They are being treated for bumblefoot, a type of staph infection to the foot, and various abrasions to the face and feet, Di Leonardo said.

Three of the rescued ducks inside LION’s Riverhead shelter (LION)

The goose is also receiving medical attention for “severe angel wing,” which is a result of malnutrition, according to Di Leonardo.

“It is always heartbreaking to see animals neglected,” he said. “Whether dogs or ducks, all animals feel pain and want to live a life of joy just like we do.”

The owner, Di Leonardo said, was planning to send the birds to a slaughterhouse.

He said neglect and cruelty is commonplace at live slaughter markets. He said slaughterhouses often cut the toes and beaks off birds.

“Birds are exempt from even the basic federal protections of the Animal Welfare Act and Humane Slaughter Act, so the best way for us to help them is to simply leave them off our plates,” Di Leonardo said.

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