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Karen Davis

Long Time Animal Rights Advocate, Karen Davis has passed away at 79 years old

Feb. 4, 1944 - Nov. 4, 2023

“That crazy chicken lady” -Karen Davis

Karen Davis was from Altoona, PA and lived in Machipongo, VA. She was a graduate of Lockhaven University, received a master’s degree from Shippensberg State college, and then earned a doctorate in English from the University of Maryland. She taught in the English department for 12 years. She founded Animal Rights Coalition in 1989 at the university and pioneered a course on the role of animals in the Western philosophic and literary tradition Honors Program.

After leaving the university, Karen turned to activism. She gave lecturers, did an enormous amount of writing, and became President of United Poultry Concerns. Karen founded United Poultry Concerns in 1990, a non-profit organization, and had a strong, and active voice for chickens, turkeys and other domestic, barnyard fowl. She turned her home in Machipongo, VA into an animal sanctuary for chickens. Ms. Davis gained national attention through her efforts to overhaul a global food system that included all poultry and called it mass murder! Karen organized protests outside of turkey farms leading dozens of activists at the Thanksgiving season and against the over 9 billion chickens slaughtered each year. Ms. Davis also traveled and took part in the NYC protest against live chickens being used in the religious ritual “Kapparot” practiced by the Orthodox Jews, in which a chicken is swung in a circle and slaughtered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippor. Thus began “Alliance to end chickens as Kaporos.”

Karen says, “Humane education is key to creating a society that learns to respect animals and treat them with dignity and compassion.” Most children’s natural instincts are to be kind towards animals, but there are many adults who teach and condition their children to be cruel towards animals and disregard their feelings at a very early age. Many adults teach their children to hunt, fish, and be dominant to farm animals. They also teach children to disrespect animals at an early age. They tell children that farm animals are raised for us to eat and that we do not need to be concerned about their feelings. Peer pressure can also play its part with many children treating animals as objects and scorning others who are kind towards them! “We need to teach children as early as possible to be kind to animals and they need adult support,” says Karen. We need to mentor our youth and encourage them to stand up against “the crowd” and have compassion and empathy towards every living soul. We also need to teach them that it is okay to be kind and to be strong when anyone tries to bully them by saying that animals are here for us and we can have our way with them! Karen believes that literature and books in the classroom that teach compassion towards all animals is very important. We need to be mentor children and we need to teach them to care, have compassion, and have empathy.

Karen has written many articles, essays and books including: A Home for Henny, Meva Mouse and Bobby the Seagull, Meva Mouse Meets the Cornish Bears, and For the Birds: From Exploitation to Liberation. She has been on talk radio and tv as well. Ms. Davis enjoyed spending most days at her 12,000-square-foot outdoor aviary for rescued chickens and other birds and says they are all highly intelligent.

On February 21, 1999, Karen Davis was Florida Voices for Animals’ guest speaker at our Have a Heart Annual Dinner. She was an amazing speaker who gave an eye-opening presentation about how chickens suffer, especially in factory farms and egg production. Karen also shared some beautiful and moving stories about these gentle creatures to a full house at Trang Viet Cuisine in Tampa. Karen Davis has been a leading figure in the Animal Rights movement, passionately, tirelessly, and unapologetically advocating for birds. She has truly been an inspiration to many of us.

She will certainly be missed.

Karen’s legacy will be carried on through her sanctuary in Machipongo, VA and nonprofit organization, United Poultry Concerns.

-         Laura Weiss

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