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Roosters Rule: Finding Purpose Through Animal Rescue

Woman with her rescue rooster pet

Molly T. Taylor

Read how a rescued rooster is tackling climate change and spreading kindness, plus a practice for exploring purpose in your life.

From pet influencers to heartwarming rescue stories, our social media feeds are becoming increasingly interspecies. While some instafamous pets have attracted high-paying sponsors—earning their humans up to $15,000 per post—the truly inspiring animals lead their humans to higher purposes. Here’s one of our favorites:

Bree the Rooster

“I was working at the Wild Bird Fund—New York City’s only rehabilitation center for sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds—when a woman called, claiming she had rescued an exotic bird. I asked her to text me a photo. It was a baby chicken! Not exactly exotic, but definitely an uncommon sight on the streets of Manhattan,” shares Camille Licate.

Falling in love with the little bird, she fostered him while seeking placement at an animal sanctuary. Unsuccessful, Licate eventually prioritized her feathered friend over her city life, giving up her apartment. (It’s illegal to have a rooster in NYC residences.)

The duo moved to Licate’s hometown in Ohio. As Bree grew into a rooster, the pair’s bond grew too. “Bree knows when I’m tired, sad, or excited,” shares Licate. “If I’ve been at my desk working too long, he’ll jump on the back of my computer chair and peck my shoulder as if to say, ‘Hey, Mom, you need a break.’ Bree’s intuitive, intelligent, and curious nature continues to surprise me.”

The Microsanctuary Movement

Although Licate was familiar with caring for feathered friends from her work at the Wild Bird Fund, living with a rooster was a challenge at first. She admits she had a learning curve, and “unlike finding a dog- or cat-sitter, finding a rooster-sitter proved to be extremely challenging,” says Licate. “When I’m traveling for work, if I can’t take Bree with me, making arrangements for him to be cared for properly takes several days of preparation.”

Luckily, she hooked up with the Microsanctuary Resource Center, which helps people create safe and healthy spaces for animals who aren’t normally companions. Through the MRC, Licate also has access to a supportive community of experts who can provide trusted advice and guidance.

One of the tenets of the microsanctuary movement is to create spaces of “collective liberation where beings of all species (including humans) can be safe from violence, oppression, and exploitation.” Licate describes sanctuary as “a place of refuge, where one is well cared for and can live in peace. Bree has that with my human family, rescue pups, and me. We are his flock.”

And while Licate cares for Bree, she reveals he also cares for the humans around him, beyond herself. “He can sense what they need and reacts accordingly,“ she says. “A friend who was going through a hard time was visiting the house, and Bree quietly walked next to her, then jumped into her lap and leaned into her chest for a snuggle.”

Rescue Animals Give Purpose

Bree “Breelieves” everyone can make compassionate choices: The pair now teaches kids about climate change, endangered species, animal welfare, and tackling waste pollution through their Kids for Positive Change multimedia educational program.

Through classroom, homeschool, virtual, and video programs, Licate helps teachers and parents empower children to take actions that inspire change. Plus, the programs are designed to help raise self-esteem.

And through the (@breeandmerooster) Instagram account, Bree inspires animal lovers of all ages. “It has been an incredibly positive and rewarding experience sharing Bree with the world publicly and digitally,” observes Licate. “Bree reaches and inspires so many people. It always warms my heart when a follower comments about a post brightening their day. Bree is changing hearts one crow at a time with his message to: ‘Bree kind to yourself, others, all animals, and the planet.’”

Reflective Practice for Exploring Your Purpose

  • Write down the three things that make you feel good when you are doing them. They might be your passions, your loves, or things that you think you are pretty good at—from walking your dog to playing music to embroidery to legal advice.
  • Next, write down three things in society with which you’re not happy. For example, racism, homelessness, factory farming, poverty, illiteracy, etc.
  • Now, think about the parallels of these two lists. How can you do something in List 1 to influence something in List 2? (Ergo: How can you do something you love to change something that breaks your heart?)
  • If nothing comes to mind immediately, place your list on your mirror or desk. Glance at it from time to time until something connects. Watch for synchronicities in your life. Become in tune to how activities feel. Sometimes, purpose may simply be your supportive presence in the company of someone (or perhaps, some bird) who is stranded or suffering. In those moments—to creatively paraphrase Ram Dass—we can just Bree here now.

About the Author

Sarah Bowen

Find spiritual practices with animals in Sarah Bowen’s book Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective & Higher Purpose. And listen to her recent podcast with Rabbi Rami. 

Bowen is a multifaith spiritual educator, animal chaplain, and award-winning author. As a member of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary’s faculty, Spiritual Directors International, and several recovery communities, Bowen seeks to help others connect with the higher power of their own understanding. She’s passionate about the study of the world’s great spiritual traditions; animal welfare; and travel to quirky, spiritually charged locations. When she grows up, Bowen hopes to be a Jedi. Connect at thisissarahbowen.com or follow her on Instagram @modernreverend.

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