You Lucky Duck!
Ping, the duck, gives new meaning to the phrase, “You lucky duck.” For without the perseverance and dedication of NYSHA´s new Administrator, Lia Albo, Ping would have been one dead duck.
Ping´s story started in February in a rather strange location for a duck — 132th Street in the Bronx. Albo and a NYSHA volunteer were picking up a cat to be spayed, and spotted an odd grouping of farm animals — a duck, three roosters, and a dead rabbit — in an abandoned community garden, cluttered with garbage and surrounded by a high fence.
Albo saw no food, water, or shelter within the enclosure. Her concern was heightened because a snow storm was predicted. Albo and a NYSHA volunteer tried, but could not find a way into the padlocked premises. Albo made calls to area humane agencies, none of which were interested in helping the trapped farm animals. She finally persuaded one agency to come to the location, but they called back later and reported that the animals had shelter (which they did not) and amazingly said that such barnyard ducks and roosters are cold-blooded.
A severe winter ice storm wrecked havoc on the area the next day. As soon as possible afterward, Albo and the volunteer returned to the Bronx, fearing what they would find. Not knowing who owned the property, Albo started at the firehouse on the same block and explained the plight of the animals. She asked if there was access from their back door to the yard or if she could borrow a ladder. A kindly fireman accompanied her to the lot and said he thought the church across the street had the key, but added that if the church did not, he would break the lock for her. What a compassionate person — no wonder people who live in New York City love their firemen.
Albo knocked on the rectory door and was told she had to wait for the maintenance man. When he came, she pointed to the farm animals in the lot now covered with ice and snow. After what seemed like an eternity, he found the right key to unlock the gate to the lot. He also told her he thought some guy came every now and then and threw food over the fence. A great life.
Albo and the volunteer slogged through the snowy mess and got to the birds. Sadly, one rooster lay dead, half its body enveloped by ice. The other two were huddled against a wall. The women caught them and placed them in cat carriers. But where was the duck? Albo feared the worse as she moved a large pile of garbage. There she found the pathetic creature, hiding under the garbage in an attempt to keep warm. Albo easily scooped her up and sensed right away that this duck was a ´people duck´ though it was hard to imagine why, since she had been so cruelly abandoned.
At Albo´s home, the birds ate ravenously. The next day, Albo took the roosters to a woman who had had a pet rooster in the past and was willing to give these two a home. (As long as there were no females, the two males would not fight.) While the duck recovered, a search for her placement was started.
After the duck had regained some strength and received a name — Ping, Albo felt Ping could use a good cleaning as she was plain filthy. Albo ran her a bath. In the tub, Ping took great delight in quacking and swimming around and standing up and flapping her wings about. Ping also took a real liking to Albo and followed her around the kitchen as she made dinner. And surprisingly, but perhaps because of her tough life, Ping had no fear of Albo´s two Chihuahuas. When they came near, she ran them off.
While Ping recovered her strength, NYSHA continued working to find an appropriate placement in a farm setting where she would have ducky friends. Luckily the Catskill Animal Sanctuary agreed to take her. Ping, now with some weight on and clean-feathered, made the road trip upstate. And though it was painful to give her up, Albo knew that it was the best thing for this sweet duck
According to Kathy Stevens at the sanctuary, “Ping is a friendly little thing who loves to be held and cradles her head in your neck, as if she is giving a hug.” Ping has a boyfriend named Darwin (left in picture above) whom the sanctuary refers to as a “fine duck mutt,”and the two birds dote on each other. If potential adopters happen to come along, the sanctuary will screen them thoroughly and will see that this cute pair are adopted together. If not, she has a great life there. She is one lucky duck!
NYSHA urges you to persevere when you see an act of cruelty or animals in need of rescue. It may take a number of phone calls, and it may even take doing the job yourself, but don´t ever give up. It will be worth it in the end.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XX, No.3, Spring/Summer 2007.