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Chicken Thefts Devastate Adult Day Care

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MARYSVILLE --

No eggs were available at the Farm to Fork produce stand in Marysville after a rash of thefts emptied its chicken coop.

Over the course of four weeks, 25 chickens were taken, even though $5,000 was spent on beefing up the enclosure.

Despite its name, it is not a commercial produce operation. Instead, Farm to Fork is an agricultural day care for developmentally disabled adults. Farm animals like rabbits and chickens are used extensively with clients.

"The farm animals are very important to all of our clients. It teaches them responsibility. It teaches them to love and take care of another living being," said Farm To Fork director Jennifer Van Buskirk.

Van Buskirk says many of the clients live in group homes or apartments, where having their own pet is not possible.

The farm animals are also therapeutic. Kaetlin McArthur lost her two year-old chicken named Blue to the thieves. She said Blue helped her deal with her emotions.

"Whenever I was mad I'd go hold her, then I would be calm. I would be happy," said McArthur.

The clients have gotten replacement chickens from benefactors, but many say they have a tough time getting over the loss of their beloved chickens.

"I want her to come home. It's not the same," said McArthur as she held a new chicken that she is getting to know.

The Food to Fork facility is an area frequented by transients and there have been reports about street people carrying chickens in bags. But police still don't know who might be raiding the chicken coop, which has always occurred on a Sunday night.

The center is struggling to pay for an upgrade in the chicken enclosure and to beef it up even more to discourage more break-ins.