Wanda the chicken’s recovery fund

People have offered financial support for Wanda's recovery process. — courtesy Phebe Bates

In a couple of days, $400 has been raised for the recovery of Wanda, the pet Barred Rock chicken owned by West Tisbury resident Phebe Bates. “I’m winging it. I’m new to the fundraising thing,” Bates said. 

Bates first saw the chicken wandering around while attending the funeral of Carla Furtaw on Saturday. The next day, she heard that a chicken was hit by a car in Vineyard Haven, and went searching “for this rogue chicken.” On Tuesday, people tagged Bates, telling her the chicken was taking refuge under a vehicle owned by Tuck & Holand Metal Sculptors in Vineyard Haven.

“I’ve been babying her for a week now,” Bates said. “She’s my couch chicken. She’s very, very friendly.”

Bates contacted West Tisbury Animal Control, and was told to keep in touch. Eventually, someone reached out to Bates on Facebook, saying their neighbor was missing a chicken. After talking with Bates, the original owner said, “Merry Christmas, you can have her.”

Facebook user MV Grower suggested the name “Wanda the wanderer,” and Bates agreed with the name suggestion. 

Wanda still has a foot injury from her vehicle mishap. “I thought I was fairly competent dealing with her medical care,” Bates said. “But the foot is just disgusting, and I decided it was time to take her to a family vet.”

Bates made the fundraiser on Facebook on Friday, Dec. 24, to help cover Wanda’s veterinary costs. 

“I’m trying to cover my bases. I am paying for this out of pocket, and the bills aren’t cheap,” Bates said. “After talking to the vet, x-rays are like $150, and the visit itself is around $60 … I have a follow-up on Monday. This includes any supplies I may need to get her.”

One of these supplies is manuka honey, a New Zealand product touted as the best honey for healing purposes. Bates plans to apply it to Wanda’s foot. 

Bates said nearly all of the animals in her home are rescues, so it is “not bizarre to have a chicken in my living room.”

Wanda is also experiencing a bit of social media fame. Bates receives several messages a day asking about the chicken, and some people have even asked for a Wanda Facebook page. “People are really invested in this chicken,” Bates said. 

For those interested in supporting Wanda’s recovery efforts, visit her fundraising page at bit.ly/WandaFund.


  1. Wouldn’t it make more sense to donate the money to a needy charity and donate the chicken to a family that could use a good meal?

    • When our national politicians and town leaders show more sense than Wanda I’ll agree to it. Until then- I donated.

      • Alex– are you really telling us that you donated to this chicken foot fund ?
        And that you did so because you think Wanda has more sense than our duly elected officials ?
        That speaks volumes

        • Don, I donated to Wanda because I want this beautiful creature to make a full recovery. I couldn’t pass up the quip about elected officials because it’s an irresistible one-liner. That said, there are grounds for serious debate about who is wiser, I think you can make a darn good case for the chicken. I do think you’re being utterly ludicrous in your tirade against this innocent creature. You’re welcome to be as offended as you want, but please don’t expect the rest of us to give a fig about your rhetorical histrionics. I doubt you lose any sleep when your opinions offend others- that’s the nature of free-speech and open debate. People are free to donate money wherever they choose. I think this chicken strikes a chord because people can understand that their donation will actually make a difference, versus throwing it into a nebulous charity dealing with intractable problems that grind on decade after decade. All of us are free to donate where we choose. Wanda is one of many charitable donations I made this year, and I feel free to make them wherever I wish without worrying about someone being “offended“.

      • This is not about abundance or wealthy Vineyarders being frivolous. People who are homeless often still have their dogs with them. I’ve seen those with nothing material to their names feed their pups first. I’ve also seen many in India, including little kids who need more food themselves, help to rescue frail dogs off the street. A drive to save animals can be found anywhere. Compassion transcends financial circumstances. Food keeps us alive, but for some, animals make that life more worthwhile.

        I hope everyone criticizing Phebe and the donations gives all of their extra income to charity. All of it. Otherwise, you’re mocking someone for trying to be of service while you go out to dinner, take vacations, and buy $6 coffee or other items you could surely live without. Or are those things okay somehow? And what about wildlife rescue? People clean oil off of suffering birds after huge spills, their efforts powered by donations. Is that a disgusting waste?

        This took such a nasty turn for absolutely no good reason. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t have one positive story. Plenty of things to be upset about in the world today. A nice lady trying to rehab a creature in pain just isn’t one of them. “Do I sound like a cotton-headed ninnymuggins right now?” is a good thing to ponder before posting.

  2. I read this story, and I leaned back and thought about how I felt— First, thank you Phebe for caring . But,
    I am offended– I am insulted– I am disgusted…
    I of course don’t know if the people who donated $400 to fix a chicken’s foot also donated thousands or millions of dollars to help people who are suffering from various disasters around the world. I routinely donate money to organizations that I feel will put my hard earned money to a good cause.
    As a liberal , I understand that everyone has a different definition as to what a good cause is. But I am stunned that our sense of what a charity could be is a chicken with an injured foot.
    I doubt that any right wing “patriots” donated to this chicken’s well being.
    I certainly won’t — If you are so “touchy feely” that you feel compelled to donate to something, donate to something other than a freaking chicken.
    The right wing nut cases will justifiable make a mockery of you.
    $400 will provide food, shelter, medical care, legal funds and peace of mind for some family on the verge of starvation somewhere in the world. And the touchy feely liberals here will sleep tonight knowing that helped a chicken? — World wide, a child starves to death every 3 seconds.
    Read down to paragraph # 3 —
    I don’t usually criticize people for compassion, but this is ridiculous.

    • Are you also disgusted by animal rescue in general, e.g., of dogs and cats, or is this just about chickens? Asking for a friend . . .

      • Susanna– I donate money to the Mspca every year. My girlfriend has a dog that came from a South Carolina no kill shelter that was deemed “un adoptable ” with lots of love, kindness and time, this dog has turned out to be one of the best dogs I have ever seen. I have had dogs all my life, and I have bonded with them and cried when I had to put them down. I understand about compassion for animals. But, I would never ask the community to cover the cost of any of my vet bills. If you choose to keep an animal, be responsible and make reasonable decisions about it’s care .
        The last dog I had was run over at a slow speed and suffered injuries that were not apparent.But, after a significant amount of money and suffering, I had to put him down.
        So I guess someone fundraising to help a chicken with a non life threatening injury appears ludicrous to me..
        Call me what you want– people can spend money however they want.. But I think it’s ridiculous–

        • Don, I can entirely understand your point of view. The truth is, we animal lovers, all of us with or without pets, are hypocrites who seek some arbitrary line to determine our generosity, behaviors, and feelings. A number of us eat chicken, too, but still feel like cheering on Wanda. How hypocritical is that??
          I think we’ve all found an injured animal somewhere we’ve wanted to help, and called on others for assistance. I once accidentally closed my front door on an unseen frog and amputated one of its legs. You bet I called on friends to help. If I could have paid someone to fix the creature, I would have. And I am not a fan of frogs. These individual animal interactions can become so personal.

          We all draw our own lines about where to put our money, too, especially regarding charitable donations. Here’s a little secret about me and what I find ridiculous— and offensive. (Don’t tell any one.) When it comes to ways I am asked for money, I abhor those Facebook posts that start out with: “This year for my birthday I’m asking for donations to ____”. Those posts, always to help a good cause, drive me nuts because they make me feel awful (guilty and cheap) if I don’t donate. But I rarely donate to them. And yet I consider myself generous and caring and compassionate about giving to whom and to where I choose. It’s all personal and arbitrary when we decide what matters most to us at any given moment and who or what is tugging at our heartstrings today.
          There’s no reason for anyone to come down on you for seeing and feeling the relative ridiculousness of this fundraiser. But at least Wanda is a local and not some tourist or washashore. The spirit of Nancy Luce lives!

          • Jackie, I think there’s a huge reason to come down on this. Rather than just passing on the donation, which is certainly everyone’s right, Don had to make sure to tell those trying to do a simple and compassionate thing that he’s disgusted, insulted, AND that they deserve to be mocked. Then he mocked them himself. Several times. Why should anyone have to put up with that just for trying to help? It’s like actively discouraging the community from uniting in a cause, no matter how minor and silly it may seem to someone who’s uninterested. It looks like most people spent maybe $20 to $40 on this. Just a guess. I have no doubt that if someone announced they blew the same on recreational weed, that would go unquestioned or even be defended to the death. Drugs are fine and, vacations are fine, chickens require a smug lecture about starving children. Most people can afford to give more, but donations are obviously voluntary, as they should be. And we all buy things others wouldn’t. Some raised thousands to ship that ridiculous Baby Trump balloon around. Talk about a waste that could’ve gone to causes dealing with hunger, and yet it gained a lot of laughs. Then the other side raised thousands more, if I recall correctly, when someone pro-Trump stabbed it and needed an attorney. That’s where my disgust lies when it comes to donations. Not for pets or the people who love them.

            No one has to feel the same connection with animals, of course, but it’s cold to openly mock those who do.

          • Katie, I just saw this. I didn’t read mockery in Don’s reaction, but rather an observation that ”right wing patriots” would mock this. I saw that hungry children upset Don terribly and a fundraiser for a chicken seemed frivolous to him, although he immediately acknowledged and thanked the young woman for caring.
            Most of us do understand that chickens can be beloved pets, and this was a feel-good story, and it still is. But when the absurdity was pointed out in one person’s honest reaction, we get this heartfelt dilemma. I cook chicken several times a week
            and I still am Team Wanda. I’m a hypocrite and make up my own rules and justifications and judgments as I go along. In general, the well-being of fellow humans takes precedence over our animal friends… except for the animals I happen to love or come upon injured in the wild or want to protect from climate change and pollution and man’s cruelty. The compassion for all living beings doesn’t always come down to caring equally among all beings. Choices have to be made and people are what they are. Did you watch the Tom Hanks movie, “Cast Away”? I cried when Wilson, a soccer ball, was lost at sea. It makes no sense, but there it is. I cry at a sweet injured chicken story but eat chicken soup every time I’m sick. I don’t blame Don for his honest reaction.
            I hope you noticed the Joan Didion quote I added to my other comment in this thread. People see this dilemma differently because of what we tell ourselves about who we are. ❤️

    • Don . . . Pretty much in the same camp as you are (seem to be). Yes, it’s Ok to save a chicken’s foot but let’s be clear . . . is the chicken feeling better or is this about making the caregiver feel better? My statement about abundance is personal . . . my problems it seems are born of abundance not scarcity (indeed I’m very fortunate). $400 ??? I live half the year in a small village in the foothills of Mr. Meru Tanzania . . . no paved roads, no running water in the village, no available electricity to 90% of the population . . . the average “hut” family earns $1.00 USD per day if they can find work . . . which is seldom . . . I can feed a needy child for over a year there with $400 . . . tell them about the chicken . . . the chicken is their next 3 meals. All a matter of who’s lap the chicken sits in I guess. Do I have compassion for the lonely lady who nurses the chicken? Yes, can I hold the starving child at the same time? Absolutely.

    • I happily donated to the “Wanda Fund”….I may have to make a 2nd donation to the Wanda Fund in behalf of the negative people that have a problem with it.

  3. Many keep chickens as pets now. Sometimes pets require humane care from a professional. Sometimes it can be just as healing for the folks involved to know they’re helping a critter mend. The friendships we develop with animals are special, and that extends beyond dogs & cats. It’s been a really tough few years, a period filled with so much animosity and loss. I won’t knock anyone who simply wants to do a small kindness. If we all did more of them, it would add up to a cultural shift pretty quickly. I wish Phebe and her couch buddy Wanda the best. ❤️

  4. “The greatness of a society is judged by the way the animals are treated.” ~ Gandhi

    Every single living, sentient being (two and four legged) on this planet deserves our love, care, and respect. Animals are all innocent, vulnerable, and utterly dependent on the decency and humanity of the human race — in fact, animals teach us, remind us, and reflect back to each of us our own individual and collective humanity. Animals are tremendously loving, conscious, emotional, intelligent living beings and they deserve all of our love and protection. That’s when human beings in fact represent humanity. They are innocent.

  5. “Save a life, save the world” can apply to animals, too. Then there’s the butterfly effect. And, if people spend money helping individual animals, there will be that much less to go toward supporting evil people like Trump! I have spent thousands over the years on my beloved pets. I mourn their passing when they go, and yet do not shed a tear for any supposed human antivaxer radio host who dies of covid. Team Wanda here. She’s surpassed her goal on GoFundMe.

    Full disclosure: I cook chicken for my dog who has digestive problems.

    And finally, from the late, great writer:
    “We tell ourselves stories in order to live”. ~Joan Didion

    • Jaqui, while we have had differences of opinion in the past, I find this a thoughtful an eloquent posting. Perhaps I have been a bit hasty in pre-judging your previous comments and will start the new year with a clear and open mind. It took a chicken to work this miracle! Happy new year.

  6. WANDA is a pet and left an abusive rooster on state road for a new life!! ANY DRIVER STUCK IN TRAFFIC going up island onstate road would recognize Wanda from her family hang out behind the stone wall in front of the hedge…A FINE YOUNG LADY..deserving the best of care… welcome to West Tisbury Wanda

  7. Jackie, I understand your perspective and appreciate your candidness. Thank you for your heartfelt reply. ❤️ True, it sometimes comes down to choosing humans over animals or pets over other critters. Life can be challenging and complex in that way. I am often confused about the best path. I don’t feel this particular situation falls into that category, though. No one indicated that we should ignore starving people. I hope most are willing to tackle multiple issues and view hunger as a priority.

    There have been numerous mentions of indulgent behavior here in the past. No one was called upon to justify it or use their money more wisely. What constitutes an acceptable waste is being treated as highly selective. I guess that part got to me a little. It’s a sad day when drugs and booze, for example, are culturally embraced but vet care is offensive. I would not feel comfortable criticizing someone else’s donations (well, aside from the Baby Trump shenanigans) when it’s more vital to take a hard look at what I can do better. Be the change and all that.

    It makes sense that some may not want to contribute to this or any other cause. Maybe it’s for the best that we are each drawn to support different things. There are countless fundraisers. Many would get overlooked if everybody leaned in one direction. I can also see how this would be viewed as a quirky, eyebrow-raising story at first blush. That was my reaction. It was framed as such, like something out of Gilmore Girls, and that’s okay. At worst, it’s wholesome absurdity, not the harmful “what the cluck are you doing?” nonsense that we’ve seen far too often.

    But when I thought about it further, it’s a practical, standard solution. Not one of whimsy. Phebe only had a few choices. She could heal the foot on her own, which I believe she tried. She could ignore it, which isn’t at all humane when there’s an alternative, or she could end the animal’s life. Chickens can live for more than a decade. If Wanda is otherwise healthy, I can’t see taking that course. And so she contacted a professional. That’s what I want to happen when anyone or anything is injured. I’ve encountered a lot of neglect towards people and animals alike. Much of it was due to apathy, not financial hardship. I will always cheer on peeps who are willing to take responsible action.

    It was likely an unexpected expense, as Wanda is a new couch chicken, so others reached out. They saw something that was readily fixable and got it done. That’s awesome. We need more of that attitude in all areas, without judgment about whether the gesture is grand enough. Most causes will fall hopelessly short if one stacks them up against a lone ideal. None of us can heal the most glaring societal issues on our own. We can only choose to chip away at lack and pain one small project at a time. I don’t agree with Don that folks did this to sleep better at night. Not everything is that self-serving. Sometimes, sure, but not always.

    Some really do just want the chicken to be okay. For the chicken’s sake. Or, every bit as important, for the owner’s sake. This is a simple case of supportive neighbors. Again, easily taken as a very Vineyard-y tale born of out-of-touch mentalities. In reality, all over the world, from affluent areas to those faced with poverty, there are instances of similar kindness, of vet care for no-kill livestock and pets. Of people preserving this unique connection. A bright spot in human nature.

    When I said these reactions are a huge deal, I should clarify that I don’t mean that in any broad context. For the purposes of conversation on this site, I think it’s unfair to have someone make a show of such negative feelings while directing them at those with innocent intentions. No one did anything bad here. There are many stories that are going to turn heated no matter what. I accept that. We’re going through a bleak period where some don’t even care if others die. That’s not an agree-to-disagree scenario. But on this topic? I feel there was room for more respect.

    What I intended to defend wasn’t the animals, much as I like them. It was our fellow humans. People are sensitive about what speaks to their hearts. There’s never a reason to knock anyone for lighting a candle, even if folks assume their own candles are bigger (brilliant wording 🤡) and more noble. In my experience, saying you respect someone’s efforts and then claiming you’re disgusted will cancel out the former bit and dim the light. Taking care of each other in mind and spirit can be almost as important as helping to meet our basic needs. That’s just my $0.05.

    P.S. I also have affection for Joan Didion. Started to write a comment about her in response to yours but didn’t want to ramble. And yet, here I am.


    • Thank you for this response, Katie. We agree on much, especially that there was room for more respect, and about the drugs (pot) and booze being celebrated indulgences on these pages. I think I cut a little more slack when I think of my own excuses and justifications for my indulgences and apathy, like not having empathy for antivaxer covid patients. I can usually put myself in someone else’s shoes, but if the shoe doesn’t fit, forget it! All the best to you in the New Year.

        • I made it clear earlier in the thread that I was talking about recreational use of weed and similar. I’m not referring to therapeutic use of drugs. I apologize for forgetting to repeat that part.

          I have no desire to be a moral leader. I just don’t think anyone else has the right to tell others how to spend their money in such an aggressive, subjective way. I could buy $100 worth of weed for fun and get patted on the back by the Island MJ enthusiasts. If someone wants to help a pet owner, it may be seen as a social crime. That’s what I find silly. You’re obviously free to disagree.

          I don’t eat meat. If I were to start, it wouldn’t change my feelings about vet care being a positive thing. A minor effort sometimes compared to the world’s many pressing issues? Sure. But still a good one. If someone has a different view, just don’t donate. As I said, I’m fine with that, too.

      • You’re not alone, Jackie. I struggle with watching people deny reality only to turn around and demand hospital staff put themselves at risk. Hearing anyone talk about their own rights with no sense of responsibility has been my breaking point. It’s been a daily test, that’s for sure.

        You’re right, there have been a lot of demands on our empathy and compassion lately, and I’m sure we’re all a little (or a lottle) overwhelmed and even burnt out at times. I will try to
        keep that in mind.

        Also, a thought prompted by my earlier mention — if you’ve never watched Gilmore Girls, you should try it. 🙂 It’s like all of the best zany, charming, small-town MV stories but times ten. lol

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