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Personal Comments on the Powerful Contributions of Karen Davis

November-December 2023

Announcement from UPC: Karen Davis, President and Founder of UPC, Has Passed Away

See more here: Honoring Karen Davis, PhD, Founder UPC United Poultry Concerns

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Karen Davis
Karen and Rainbow...


VINE Sanctuary

"Stick up for chickens!"

Even from her sick bed, the late great Karen Davis, who died yesterday, steadfastly advocated for our feathered friends.

Known best as the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, where she worked tirelessly for the freedom and dignity of chickens while also operating a sanctuary, Karen also played a foundational role in what was first known as the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary and is now VINE Sanctuary.

Miriam and pattrice and everyone else here at VINE send our sympathy and heartfelt best wishes to everyone at United Poultry Concerns, who we know must be grieving deeply.

Most importantly, we want to alert everyone to the fact that the most steadfast advocate for chickens is no longer with us. It will take many of us doing more than we did before to equal her energy.

We take to heart these words from Karen's last note to us: "I will continue to wish and hope for a day that will be different for all the birds."

We pledge today to redouble our efforts for chickens in Karen's memory. We encourage you to do the same.

Karen Davis

Karen Davis

John Sanbonmatsu:

In many ways, Karen was the moral center of the animal advocacy movement. No one was more uncompromising in her political vision, and no one had a more sober, clear-eyed view of the human race and its violent depredations against our fellow beings. Karen eschewed sentimentality, despised pretense, and confined her utterances to the truth. I have never known anyone less willing to engage in the social niceties that placate the human conscience than she. Karen said what needed to be said, and she never apologized for it. She shaped her life to her cause, and that cause was total animal liberation. No one taught me more about the nature of satyagraha or the importance of commitment. It is incumbent upon us all to continue her legacy and learn from the exemplary life she lived.

Elizabeth Young, Palomacy:

Thank you Karen for your brilliant, compassionate & unstoppable leadership. Your work lives on. I will miss learning from you Rest in power.

Hope Bohanec, The Humane Hoax:

I learned so much from Karen in the decade that I worked for UPC. She was fearless, unapologetic, and always fighting for and thinking about the chickens. She was one of the true pioneers of the grassroots animal rights movement and uplifted the most oppressed and abused non-human animals on earth- her beautiful chickens. She taught us how to tell their stories and give them the respect and dignity they so deserve. This news hits me hard, it’s such a terrible loss for us all. Karen, we will finish the work you started and create a world where chickens—and all animals—are free.

Cogen Bohanec

One of our great animal rights heroes, who was a dear friend to Hope and me, has passed. When I first met Karen Davis, I was writing a lot about ecofeminism, and Hope (who was then employed at UPC) set up a breakfast meeting with Karen and me at the National Animal Rights Conference in LA.

I instantly liked her. She was one of those old-school animal rights theorists and grassroots activists that is increasingly rare these days. She often spoke out about how factionalism in the animal advocacy movement caused activists (or more like these days, professional advocates) to lose sight of the animals. During our first meeting, she excoriated Aldo Leopold's "thinking like a mountain," and other strains of environmentalist thought that focused on the valuations of "systems" at the expense of individual animals within those systems (the best work on this is, of course, Marti Kheel's "Nature Ethics," which is my favorite ecofeminist work, and my favorite animal rights work).

Her approach, like mine, was a critique of this type of utilitarian impersonalism which reduces the value of living beings to mere numbers and values them only collectively. She spoke of the hegemony of such an approach and the speciesism of humans determining what the "greater good of the whole" is based on their own biases and arrogant belief in the human ability to prognosticate. It was an enlivening conversation and really inspired me in my work on ecofeminism which I eventually used in my dissertation, and in my forthcoming monograph.

In the following decade or so, I met with her often at the national conferences. I listened to her presentations, and I spoke with her on many occasions, sometimes on the phone when Hope and she had a call. I loved how she simply refused to back down, and when she had an opinion she voiced it. She simply did not seem to care a bit what anyone else thought of her, especially when she knew she was right.

I listened to one of the best "takedowns" of one certain notable animal advocate who had made the unfortunate misstep of criticizing her work (and that of a great number of other advocates), and I relished in her general caustic wit and acerbic quips—even when Hope and I were occasionally embarrassed by what we felt could have been a little more, well, diplomatic at times. But I just came to love that about her, and I even started joking with Hope that Karen was my new best friend.

As far as I know, she didn't have any religious beliefs per se, such as the belief in a God or an afterlife, and a few times I heard some of her (very legitimate) critiques of religion. But she did sponsor a conference with UPC on "Animals and Religion" where I presented, and she listened respectfully and her input was healthy and productive. My general sense is that she understood that all sectors of society need to be engaged in the work of animal advocacy, including religion.

While Karen might not have believed in an afterlife (to my knowledge), I certainly do. I believe in karma and reincarnation. I believe ultimately we live in a just universe, and that justice is much more than a mere human/social construct. Based on that, and based on the immense good that she has contributed to in her life, I have great hope that our beloved Karen Davis has attained a better birth, with even more power and good fortune. It is my hope that out there somewhere she is an even more powerful advocate for the lives, worth, and dignity of animals and all other beings who suffer at the hands of speciesist exploitation. Rest in power Karen Davis, the world was a better place with you here.

Josh Harper:

Very sad to hear that Karen Davis has passed away. She was one of the first people who expanded my position on animal liberation beyond just not causing harm. She pointed out that animals have society, culture, some have language and ritual, layers of complexity beyond just an ability to feel pain that were being extinguished so we could enjoy the taste of their flesh or eggs or milk. Because of Karen and visionaries like her I wanted animals to experience the full richness of their intricate lives in a web of other creatures doing the same. She influenced so many people to re-examine their relationship with non-humans, especially with those birds we exploit the most- chickens. Rest in peace, Karen.

Patty Mark:

My heart goes out to all those who deeply respected, admired and were highly influenced by the remarkable Dr Karen Davis. I know I am aching to have learned of her death on November 4. Karen died peacefully at her animal sanctuary in Machipongo, Virginia at the age of 79. Karen was a bastion of support for animal activists seeking truth, justice and freedom for all. I have benefited greatly from meeting and spending time and conversation with this highly intelligent and powerful woman. Karen is the founder of United Poultry Concerns (UPC) and her work for birds and their rights is legendary.

Karen invited me to come speak at one of her well respected animal activist forums back in June, 1999 about our Openrescue work here in Australia. We are so grateful to Karen as this helped to spread the message about the importance of assertively and openly rescuing animals known to be suffering and dying in great pain but ignored by authorities. Even if some of our world still considers this non-violent rescue of helpless dying individuals theft.

The conference was at her chicken sanctuary in Virginia USA right in the heart of where literally millions even billions of birds were raised and killed for their eggs and flesh. I wondered at the time how she could bear living there, but later understood the importance and her bravery of choosing this site, It was the strong and steadfast Karen saying, "We are here. We stand for chickens, their rights, their intelligence, their individual personalities and choices. We will defend them until they have the respect and freedom they deserve." And that she did!

Oh Karen, it's such a sad day to have lost you. You will be sorely missed.

Zoe Weil:

The animals lost one of their most dedicated advocates. A terrible loss.

Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary Ireland:

We are deeply saddened to hear this news. Karen was decades before her time in her activism for birds, one of the most forgotten animals. Her work was a beautiful combination of passion, intelligence and deep love and respect for the bird people she advocated for.

Jennifer Sully:

Philip Wollen:

SAD TO REPORT. Our friend Karen Davis has passed away. I am sure tens of thousands of our friends will agree with me. Karen was the doyen of the “chicken world”. She was a remarkable woman. Unforgettable.

Donna Zeigfinger:

Rest in peace, my friend. I’ve known you for almost 40 years and you were an amazing activist. My heart is broken.

Mary Finelli, Fish Feel:

Karen Davis was the embodiment of the essence of animal rights. Philosopher Tom Regan paid her perhaps the highest compliment by referring to her as “my bellwether in the political storms that animal rights advocates have to face.”

She was that for so many of us, with her clear vision and brilliant observations of right and wrong. She was passionate and compassionate, and she elegantly articulated complex issues in ways that made them plainly clear and moved many.

Karen felt the horrors of the world deep in her soul but she also found great joy in life. She was vivacious and fierce, fascinating and funny. Those she befriended are truly blessed to have known her. She indelibly left her mark on the world in her relentless efforts to cause humans to be more civilized towards other animals, and she leaves a prolific library of her decades of advocacy and activism. United Poultry Concerns was a major inspiration for Fish Feel.

Here is a wonderful interview that Lisa De Cresente (Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM)) conducted with Karen last year and here is the beautiful video tribute to Karen that Gay Bradshaw (The Kerulos Center for Nonviolence) created earlier this year.

Twyla Francois:

Karen's loss will be felt for decades to come. She was a tireless advocate for birds and a beautiful soul. We will all miss her terribly.

Patty Shenker:

What a loss to us in the movement and more importantly, to the birds she dedicated her life to- with a powerful voice for the birds.In loving Memory of Karen Davis! She was a powerful voice for animals- especially the birds! May she fly free with them & the angels!

Bryan Monell:

The animals lost one of their fiercest and most effective advocates today. R.I.P. Karen Davis. Karen saved millions from suffering. Thank you for your tireless work and for educating the world about the sentience and inhumane things done to birds & other animals. It was an honor to know you. I really appreciated your advice on a number of issues, like when you helped us find a home for a rescued rooster Rudy. You will be missed until the end of time. A toast to you Karen.

Ellen Erickson:

RIP dear Karen Davis. You were one of a kind and will be missed.

Carol Adams:

This is so incredibly sad. What a great advocate and writer she was.

Michael Budkie, SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!:

Karen most certainly was a one-of-a-kind as a pioneer standing up for our fellow feathered friends. She tackled head-on advocating for one of the most exploited and under-represented species, chickens. She has paved a road with her life work and publishings that will continue towards freedom for our feathery friends. Rest in Power, Karen.

Melanie Moonstone, Rooster Redemption:

The world has lost an incredible human. Karen Davis founded @unitedpoultryconcerns and worked tirelessly for decades to amplify the voices of birds exploited by humans. She was a huge role model, inspiration, and had a huge compassionate heart. Thank you, Karen, we promise to continue amplifying their voices in your honor.

Joe Miele:

To say Karen was a giant is not doing justice to the extraordinary work she did for the birds. I loved her dedication to animal liberation and the energy that surrounded her whenever I was in her presence. Thank you, Karen. Rest in peace.

Susan Dunne:

Oh Karen! You were one of the most dedicated, compassionate, knowledgeable people that I know! I am so grateful for the time we spent together at the Animal Rights Conference, and especially for UPC! You will ALWAYS be in my heart!!

Rooster Sanctuary at Danzig's Roost:

We woke up to the news that one of the greatest advocates for chickens and other birds used in farming, has passed away. Karen Davis of @unitedpoultryconcerns contributed directly to Rooster Sanctuary a number of times in a number of ways and we are forever grateful to her. I remember her saying that the we can breed chickens to grow so large they cannot even jump up without their bones breaking under their weight but we haven’t bred out their desire and their desperate longing to roost up high and be a bird. We won’t take that fire out of them. That connection to a world they all come from will not die. We can’t completely destroy all that they are no matter how greedy and determined humans are. Thank you for your lifelong devotion to the most mistreated birds on earth. You’ve left a legacy behind you and we are grateful for you here at Rooster Sanctuary.

Teresa D’Amico:

This breaks my heart. Karen was a dear friend and the most wonderful, tireless and brave advocate for all animals especially her beloved birds. I can't imagine the world without her.

Lee Hall:

Rise in power, Karen Davis

Zealia Cavalier:

Oh no. This loss feels particularly poignant leading up to Thanksgiving. Karen was a hero of sorts to me. She was so busy but absolutely made time to speak to me on the phone when I was a young chicken rescuer feeling in over my head. Her convictions were unwavering and her compassion limitless. May her memory be a blessing.

Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet:

Let's have a moment of silence for the indomitable and creative force of animal liberation, Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns, who gave so generously of her time and energy to rescue and protect animals, especially birds, from their abuse at human hands. She was a friend and colleague for over 35 years in the animal liberation movement, deeply respected by all, and she will be sorely missed.

A Peaceful Planet:

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the passing of Karen Davis, lifelong animal rights activist and founder of United Poultry Concerns. After a long illness, she passed away peacefully on the morning of November 4, 2023 at the UPC sanctuary surrounded by her beloved birds. She has been a leading figure in the Animal Rights movement, passionately, tirelessly and unapologetically advocating for the birds. She has been an inspiration to many of us.

Adam Karp:

Yesterday my friend and paragon of animal rights virtue Karen Davis died. She created United Poultry Concerns, was a proliferous and powerful writer, a straightforward rhetorician who unwaveringly gave voice to the billions of birds who are so ignored, tortured, and vilified in our society. I admired her strength, dedication, articuliteness, and no bs personality. I really will miss her.

Joan Harrison:

Remembering Karen Davis (February 4, 1944-November 4, 2023)
The news of Karen's death was devastating for me, which is partly why I didn't write this as soon as I heard.  Karen was a revolutionary without whom the plight of chickens and turkeys might still be a matter of indifference to animal activists, who, before Karen, ignored them, even though they represent about 99% of the land animals slaughtered for food in this country.
Karen was regarded by many as the gold standard for animal rights activism.  She always struck me as a fearless, tireless defender of birds, a scholarly dynamo involved in many different forms of advocacy.  I first met her in 2013 when I invited her to speak on a panel I was organizing for the Left Forum, the purpose of which was to show the intrinsic relatedness between animal suffering and nearly all major social justice issues.  She accepted enthusiastically, stating that she also was very dismayed by the Left's ignoring of animals.  And of the five Forum panels I organized she spoke at four. 
She was a major inspiration for me, always encouraged me, and taught me a great deal.  Before the first panel, I read all her books and was stunned by her genius for conveying the plight of birds in a way that was neither pap nor porn. I was especially impressed with Prisoned Chickens Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry in which she consistently and effectively personalizes egg laying hens—and at the same time subtly provides a scathing social/political critique—by interweaving descriptions of the obscene abuse they suffer at the hands of industry with details about her own interactions with hens at her sanctuary.
Animal-denigrating opponents wishing to deny that animals could feel joy or grief, for example, more than once accused her of anthropomorphism--projecting human characteristics onto nonhuman creatures. In response she distinguished between destructive false anthropomorphism (e.g. the notion that animals are happy to sacrifice their bodies for food [In Conversation with Dr. Karen Davis: Of Practical Applications of Trans-species Psychology, Of Demystifying Anthropomorphism, and Of The Holocaust and the Henmaid’s Tale] and "empathic anthropomorphism," by which she meant a successful way of using empathy and projection to achieve a likely veridical apprehension of a nonhuman creature’s emotions or, indeed, telepathic communication.  I debated the expression with her, however, on grounds that if there was an actual transmission from the creature—in this case a bird—of which I'd no doubt, given what she described, and what I myself experienced numerous times with cows, horses, dogs, pigeons, and others, then it was not anthropomorphism, which implies either misapprehension or inference, rather, she was directly apprehending something transmitted.  The burden of proof was on the animal denigrators, not on her.  Yet she defended the expression passionately, and the more she spoke it seemed to me that, given the obtuseness of her opponents, it might work rhetorically even if strictly speaking inaccurate. 
Through Karen I learned about the horrific annual chicken-kaporos atonement ritual in New York City and elsewhere in the country. And I joined her and other demonstrators in Crown Heights and neighboring areas to educate the public and plead--as many rabbis today and in the past, and of course Karen’s own Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos have pleaded—for an end of the use of chickens in that ritual, and a substituting of coins or some other inanimate object onto which the sins of the practitioner may be transferred. 
In 2005 Karen initiated what is known as International Respect for Chickens Day, May 4th, and each year she sent out notices urging her readers to do an action for chickens on that day.  Though I've always shared those notices online, that’s generally been the extent of my May 4th activities for chickens. My own advocacy, not nearly as dynamic as Karen's, includes fasting on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and Passover, when for so many the high point of the celebration is defined by feasting on animal corpses.  I also fast during the time right before Yom Kippur when the starving, water-deprived kaporos hens are slaughtered on the streets of Brooklyn.  This next year and each year thereafter, however, in honor of Karen and of suffering chickens and other birds everywhere to whom her entire life and work were devoted, I intend to fast also on May 4th.
November 9, 2023

Bill Crain:

Karen was one of the all-time great animal rights advocates. She pulled no punches. Animal suffering, she knew, demands us to speak out without compromise. Karen also was a passionate scholar, and she taught us so much. 
My most recent work with Karen was with respect to the sales of ducklings and chicks. Customers frequently buy them because they look so cute on the stores' floors, but later decide they don't want to keep them, and they abandon them. Schools do something similar. They routinely purchase fertilized eggs without making plans for chicks' care  after their hatching projects are over. Our farm sanctuary receives several calls a week from people who want us to adopt chicks and ducklings, but we have been filled to capacity for a long time. I'm sure the same is true at other sanctuaries. The situation is a crisis, so our sanctuary turned to Karen for help, and she immediately initiated a great public awareness campaign. 
On this issue, Karen also called attention to the effects of young birds growing up without  mothers. A heat lamp cannot replace the comfort, security, and direction a mother provides. Schools want  their hatching projects to teach children about biology and development, but the absence of mothers means that the children don't get a true picture of what occurs in more natural settings.
Karen's dedication to nonhuman animals was simply amazing. I have an image of all beings mourning her loss.

Beth Lily Redwood:

Karen Davis heard the cries of domesticated birds and devoted her life to speaking out and acting on their behalf. A legend in the animal rights movement of the highest moral and ethical character, Karen has been a profound source of inspiration, information and loving friendship ever since Daniel and I attended our first vegan Thanksgiving at her bird sanctuary in 2005. The empathy, compassion, wisdom, brilliance and energy she brought to the world’s understanding of why chickens, turkeys and other birds deserve dignity, respect, protection and freedom from human exploitation are irreplaceable. We who care deeply about animals are profoundly and forever in her debt.

Elizabeth Forel:

I honor Karen Davis for her dedication to a group of animals that, even within the animal liberation movement, were largely ignored or considered too vast a “problem” to be addressed, until she became their vocal supporter. I will miss the kind of person she was: singular, unwilling to be silenced, unapologetic." With her courage and willingness to speak out, she should be a role model for all of us advocating for animals!

Pamela Rice:

Karen Davis was my mentor, my inspiration, on a short list of people, who—back in 1990—convinced me with heroism and compassion to dedicate my life to the vegan cause. I was exceedingly honored that Karen Davis attended all but one of the parades from 2008-2017. A shining light has now flickered dark. But the life of Karen Davis will shine for many generations to come, emboldening vegan and poultry activists far far far into the future. I am so blessed to have known you, Karen Davis.

Sandra Isobel Kyle:

Like so many, I was deeply saddened to hear of Karen’s death. I really only knew her through her powerful and insightful writing, but she emailed me a couple of times concerning the essay I contributed to Vegan Voices (ed. Dr Joanne Kong):- I was deeply honoured that someone of her stature had taken the time to write to me:-

“I was particularly struck in your essay by the sadness you say you felt watching the poor cows about to be killed drinking water. Truly, it is too agonizing.”

I subsequently published a short article about Karen, including a moving excerpt she wrote in her own essay in Vegan Voices:-

“Something I learned about chickens … is how vocally charged they are from morning to night. All-day long, I hear their voices outside, ringing and singing…

By contrast, if you open the door of a Tyson or Perdue chicken house after the newborns have been there for a week or so, you will not hear a peep or a rustle. If you enter a facility where hens have been caged for eggs for a few months, the sound of silence will strike you more forcibly than commotion. Of all the indicators of their suffering, the sound of thousands of chickens together, mute and unmoving, is the eeriest, most audible signal that something is wrong.”

I now have rescue chickens of my own, plucked out of a shed where 20,000 other beings silently languished, and who are living their best life in a large area at the back of my property. I have decided to put a sign on the fence that reads

In Memory of Karen Davis in her honour.

Deep respects Karen, you touched hearts and minds of people the world over, and taught them to see our fellow beings differently. There must have been such a crowd of your beloved chickens waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

Rest In Power Great Soul, your work is done. The world is a better place because of you.

Joanne Kong

So many are sharing thoughts and remembering Karen Davis for her passionate, tireless animal advocacy. A champion for chickens, she helped raise awareness of their plight, inspiring people to open their hearts to our feathered friends. A beautiful writer, she had a gift for portraying the souls of these wonderful beings, as in this excerpt from "With Heart and Voice: Will Birds Sing or Will They Be Silent?" in Vegan Voices: Essays by Inspiring Changemakers: "The easiest part of my work is being with the birds in our sanctuary. To be in their company, to share the day with them, to be able to help them and experience their enthusiasm brings joy, as when Rowdy the rooster looks me in the eye and then crows his heart out in what I like to think of as a proclamation of our kindred spirits and primal accord."

Jamie Cohen

What an incredible and complete testament to Karen and her legacy. I learned even more about her that I didn't know. Thanks, Franklin, for sharing this tribute and please keep me posted on the memorial.

Captain Paul Watson:

So very sad to hear that we have lost Karen Davis. She was a force of activism in protecting and defending chickens. Passionate, courageous and unrelenting in her fight to champion the rights of chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. A truly wonderful and inspiring activist. It was a joy to have known her and to listen to her many talks and interviews over the years. I like how she once put Howard Stern in his place when Howard asked her one of those stupid questions about if she and a chicken were on a desert island without food, would she eat the chicken. She told him that if she was on a desert island with Howard Stern without food she certainly would eat him and then told him that it was a stupid question. She wiil be missed.

Susan Cain Tellem:

Sad to learn that one of the smartest and most dedicated animal rights person joined her flock over the rainbow bridge. Karen Davis founded #UnitedPoultryConcern in 1990, the same year we founded American Tortoise Rescue. She taught the world that chickens are smart and funny, and the abuse must stop. Karen, you will be missed so much. You are my hero.

Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary:

In honor of animal activist Karen Davis, Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur has shared some words on her profound impact on the world of animal advocacy:

Karen Davis, author, activist, and Founder of United Poultry Concerns (UPC), died at her sanctuary on November 4, fittingly on the same day Farm Sanctuary hosted our annual vegan Thanksgiving Celebration FOR the Turkeys in Watkins Glen, NY. Karen was an unwavering and unapologetic advocate for chickens, turkeys, and other birds whose suffering is often dismissed or ignored. She took on factory farming and other forms of denigrating violence, such as when NPR’s This American Life held a “poultry slam.” Karen challenged this and asserted that birds deserve respect. She invited the show’s host, Ira Glass, to meet chickens at her sanctuary, and he became vegetarian as a result. Karen’s activism played a singular and pivotal role in elevating the plight of billions of exploited birds.

Karen interned at Farm Sanctuary in the 1980s, before founding UPC and opening a sanctuary on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where poultry production abounds. Karen’s presence will be felt and continue, including in her books and writings like an article about her internship entitled “A Peaceable Kingdom for Farm Animals.” She described: “A man paid us a visit one day, along with some other people. Inside the barn he said to me, when he first arrived, ‘I don’t eat red meat anymore, but I still eat chicken and turkey.’ Along comes Milton, ponderously slow, burdened by the overweight and arthritis that have become standard in birds bred for meat. Pretty soon this man was exclaiming, with Milton there beside him, ‘I didn’t think turkeys could – could’ – could what? He was looking for a word or phrase to describe whatever it was he had thought turkeys couldn’t do, but which they obviously could do, since Milton was just then doing it. I think what he was trying to say was be companionable.

Karen understood the profound impacts sanctuaries have, as well as the need for educational and advocacy efforts, and I was very grateful to have known and worked with her. Read Karen's "A Peaceable Kingdom for Farm Animals."

Marlene Narrow, Vegan Nation:
In loving memory of Karen Davis, a wise, powerful and beautiful vegan woman.  With much gratitude for Karen's indefatigable activism and courage, Vegan Nation pays a memorial tribute to Her on November 14, 2023: Karen Davis Memorial Tribute – November 14, 2023 

Beth Fiteni:

I remember many years ago (20+) visiting the chicken sanctuary and they showed us a "normal" baby chicken from the wild next to a factory farmed baby chicken of about the same age, and the second one was nearly twice the size of the other. Showing how growth hormones create these unnatural beings that can't sustain their own weight. It was truly shocking and memorable. I've told many people about that over the years. 

I loved Karen's compassion for beings that are too often forgotten.

Sue Coe:

Brave and unique...animal rights activist and founder of the non-profit organization United Poultry Concerns Karen Davis has passed away. Her work will never be forgotten. See NY Times Obit here.

This drawing was Karen’s idea for me to do, and I did.

the scream
The Scream, 2012, graphite, gouache and watercolor.
© Sue Coe

Jo-Anne McArthur:

I hope you'll read Martin Rowe's beautiful tribute to United Poultry Concerns's founder Karen Davis. Karen seemed fearless, tireless, and prolific to me. If only animals had more defenders like her! Rest in Power, Ms. Davis. In Memory of Karen Davis - Martin Rowe, Culture & Animals Foundation.

From the tribute: The animals who are genetically disfigured, plucked, skinned, eviscerated, and packaged for us needed a champion; their invisibility and individuality demanded a storyteller—and Karen Davis made her full-throated case on their behalf. I know she often despaired of slowing, let alone stopping, the production lines and conveyer belts that sent to their premature deaths so many of the creatures that she knew for their quirky personalities—capable of so many things, including affection and companionability. She’d veer between calls for outright abolition and any means of alleviating their suffering: ideological consistency for her meant little if it delayed them a modicum of comfort or inhibited action. I think she carried the burden of what she knew heavily, which was in turn a reaction to her relatively late realization about what is done to farmed animals on our behalf. There was no time to waste, and Karen made you aware of it.

Karen Davis turkey
I've included here my favourite photo of Karen, taken by David Harp.

Rooster's Sanctuary at Danzig's Roost:

We woke up to the news that one of the greatest advocates for chickens and other birds used in farming, has passed away.

Karen Davis of @unitedpoultryconcerns contributed directly to Rooster Sanctuary a number of times in a number of ways and we are forever grateful to her.

I remember her saying that the we can breed chickens to grow so large they cannot even jump up without their bones breaking under their weight but we haven’t bred out their desire and their desperate longing to roost up high and be a bird.

We won’t take that fire out of them. That connection to a world they all come from will not die.
We can’t completely destroy all that they are no matter how greedy and determined humans are.

Thank you for your lifelong devotion to the most mistreated birds on earth. You’ve left a legacy behind you and we are grateful for you here at Rooster Sanctuary.

Michael Riegert:

Thanks, Veda and AllCreatures for giving us a chance to honor and remember Karen and UPC!
Well, this looks like another event I won’t wake up from. So I may as well stop fretting over what to say and join in the impossible task of giving Karen her due. And how I already miss her! I’m certain her searing comment re: the California DxE conviction would be among those now online! 
It may have been the late 80s when I first learned of Karen. I may have been researching animal advocacy and Vegan life. Her inspiring advocacy of domestic birds caught my attention and couldn’t be ignored. Wow! I questioned the sanity, but not the courage of this vivacious woman, who accepted the extremely daunting challenge of advocating for these billions of nearly universally ignored, scorned victims.
When I began working with her virtually in January of ‘21, I found I couldn’t question her sanity, either! I’d begin to think that what’s been done to the other animals for thousands of years qualified as holocaust. Searching the term online, I found Karen’s article “A Tale of Two Holocausts”. I was very impressed by her bold, elegant, very sane logic explaining some very complex concepts...which validated my thought.
I also researched euphemism as a factor related to exploitation, neglect and persecution. I found a perfect example in Karen’s article with Barbara Stagno, “Understanding Euthanasia: when life and words become worthless”. I was humbled by the way she replied so genuinely and promptly when I asked for permission to quote. That promptness and tone never faltered in her replies to many subsequent emails as I tried to help with her work. 
She must’ve been exceptionally faithful and resilient to remain so constantly at her battle station, especially during her illness. I don’t think she ever received much good news. Yet day after day, for decades, she showed up to serve with the courage and powerful creativity of a child! Thankfully, she had her feathered companions to help her face each day. 
I greatly appreciate you co-workers and staff at UPC who also helped as you could. Thank you, commenting co-workers, for your amazing accounts telling me so much more than I knew about Karen and her work! I didn’t know about the “Econo-missed” magazine article. I wonder if it’s offered the apology. And I didn’t know of her association with In Defense of Animals Founder, Dr. Katz. Learning that, I’ve already found another small way to alert more people to Karen, her work and UPC. 

While preparing to compose this message, I researched lists online of famous woman activists with whom Karen should already be listed. Much to my dismay, but not to my surprise, I found no list containing Karen’s name! Because of her association with Dr. Katz, this omission seemed exceptionally egregious on IDA’s list, “19 Women Making History for Animals Past & Present”. I’ve asked IDA to correct this.

I think legend and legacy of Karen Davis and UPC is quite worthy of an anthem, biography, documentary. I can’t help with the biography or documentary. But the sounds and words at the following link are some of the things that keep me going. I dedicate them as anthem to Karen, UPC and indeed, to our entire movement: Never Surrender, Slingshot Pacio and Corey Hart.

lauren Ornelas:

If you helped birds, you were a friend of Karen’s! When I conducted my investigations of duck farms in the US and ran corporate campaigns to get duck “meat” and feathers pulled – Karen was right there with me! She promoted our campaigns in her newsletters and since we were such a small organization, I know she helped us achieve victories such as getting feathers pulled from Pier 1 Imports. And with my organization’s name being Viva!USA and her first chicken being named Viva it was a perfect match. I will always be grateful for the work she did for the birds and for not only being an incredible advocate for them but also anyone else who lent their voices as well – no matter how big for small of an organization they were.  

Mark Hawthorne:

In 2001, I was a vegetarian but still eating eggs when I began researching the egg industry. What I learned about egg production troubled me, so I wrote to United Poultry Concerns, hoping they could assuage my anxiety and tell me that consuming certain eggs—such as “free range”—was acceptable. It was Karen who emailed me back. She quickly disabused me of the free-range myth and told me that I should not be eating eggs. Period. I went vegan soon after.

Karen was one of the most dedicated, fearless, and uncompromising activists I’ve ever known. I interviewed her several times for various projects, and she was always supportive, especially for my first book, Striking at the Roots. When I got to meet her in person, it was at the Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles, and I was stunned that she wanted to have lunch with me. Just us. She talked at length about chickens and turkeys and being a woman in a movement in which most leaders were men (at least at that time).

I also appreciated and admired her commitment to effective writing, and she wasn’t shy about correcting any errors she found in documents I sent to her for review. Whenever I encountered her at events in later years, she seemed genuinely happy to see me. I was flattered that Karen treated me like a colleague.

Will Anderson:

Karen was a light that shone on our pathway chosen in the night of human brutality. By her example of character, clarity of message, selflessness, and endless dedication to chickens, turkeys, ducks, “and other domestic fowl,” she still glows and illuminates for us what is still undone. Karen had her sanctuary to help balance grief with joy. It’s a small act, but I am posting this link to the 2011 Nature documentary, My Life as a Turkey, on social media as Thanksgiving nears. We miss you, Karen. 

Jill Howard Church:

Especially thankful today for many years of knowing my friend Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns. She devoted her life to raising awareness and saving the lives of the world's most abused and least protected animals. You gotta be badass to establish a chicken sanctuary in the midst of VA's Eastern Shore factory farms. We worked together numerous times, and she was always so kind to me. Karen passed away several weeks ago, but her legacy lives on, and we will not give up fighting for the feathered in her name.

Karen Davis

Mary Elizabeth Rosa:

Since I heard the news of Karen’s passing, I have been grieving, yet grateful for the chance to know her. Karen Davis didn’t teach me to care, but she taught me what it meant. In a world full of sham, cruelty, and disregard for facts, Karen’s insistence on truth brought a unique and powerful genius to her work, her teaching and her relationships. She focused her fierce intelligence and infinite compassion on the plight of birds especially chickens. I applied her exacting lens to what I ate, what I wore, and, in short, how I made ANY choices, including friendships.
Her education, experience as a professor, and brilliant writing and researching skills also informed her poetry. Precise and uncompromising, yet utterly approachable and warm, she always responded to phone calls and emails. In fact, I have never experienced such heartache over losing someone I never met! I knew her for a short time, but it was enough to change my life. She gave everything to her passion, and her passion was to make life better for all creatures. No doubt her birds, folding their wings and bowing their heads in bewilderment, are feeling loss and sorrow and so am I. 

Bob Berman:

Over twenty years ago the University of Oregon in Eugene was having one of their annual environmental law conferences. That year I organized a talk that would feature Karen Davis. She flew out and did her usual splendid job of presenting the plight of poultry in the factory farming system. That night I had also organized a talk she would give in the city of Corvallis north of Eugene, I thought I had done an adequate job of advertising the event, but in retrospect I could have done better. Unfortunately only two people showed up. We waited awhile for more people to come in, but eventually Karen sighed, got up, and proceeded to give this amazing, mesmerizing presentation for one solid hour. It didn't matter if there were two-hundred people in the room or the two that were actually there. She gave everything she could in the most impassioned, moving way. I'll never forget that night.  



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Read more at Honoring Karen Davis, PhD, Founder UPC United Poultry Concerns