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Why this one-legged turkey named Gertie is the luckiest bird in B.C.

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Gertie’s leg was severed in a farming accident. (via Michelle Singleton)

There’s at least one turkey that won’t be gobbled up this Thanksgiving, and that turkey’s name is Gertie.

Gertie, like most turkeys, was being raised in a barn stall for Thanksgiving dinner, when one night she had an accident that would change the course of her life forever.

“At some point one evening Gertie jumped up on a hay rack in the stall and fell, but her leg got stuck,” says Michelle Singleton, from Home for Hooves Farm Sanctuary on Vancouver Island.

“She hung there all night and was found in the morning by a girl that boards her horse at the same farm Gertie was being raised.”

Gertie’s leg was severed and she suffered a compound fracture in the accident. Her leg died due to lack of blood flow and had to be amputated.

“The girl’s family tried to split and cast her leg but there was too much damage,” Singleton says.

The family brought Gertie to the sanctuary, where she is now recovering – without the fear of becoming dinner.

“Gertie came to us because she would have likely died due to cramped conditions and difficulty obtaining food and water due to her mobility issues,” Singleton says.

“She is currently able to hop around on one leg but she soon won’t be able to do this because she is a breed of turkey that was bred to grow quickly for meat production, so, she will get big fast. Even with two legs these turkeys eventually have mobility issues due to their large size.”

Because of this issue, Singleton started looking at options to help Gertie walk again.

“Gertie, currently has a friend, Henry, which is a Cornish cross chicken, with the same problem, bred for meat and grows so big they have mobility issues,” Singleton says.

She is currently purchasing a chair for Henry from Chicken Therapy Chairs in Australia, which will cost about $100 to $150.

The chairs were “designed to assist the recovery of rescued battery hens who had sustained injuries” according to the website.

But Gertie will need something a bit different.

“They have told me that one for Gertie will be very expensive, $400 to $500,” Singleton says.

“Gertie has been seen by a fellow that is a certified orthotist and he is going to try and make a prosthetic for her.

“Her leg has only been healed for about three weeks, so she still needs time for the wound to heal in order to prevent pressure sores.

“For now we change the bandage weekly to ensure the leg is protected so it can heal properly.”

This week, part proceeds from a vegan Thanksgiving dinner will go towards buying the prosthetic leg for Gertie.

“I’m very happy about the vegan Thanksgiving event to help raise money for Gertie,” Singleton says.

“We have several projects on the go so I am incredibly thankful to have this group help with fundraising for Gertie’s new leg.”

And that’s how Gertie came to be, possibly, the luckiest turkey in B.C.

— Elisia Seeber, Vancouver is Awesome

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