A WOMAN who reached out in desperation for help from the public to reunite with her emotional support animal, a pet chicken, has been bombarded with unwanted proposals, ridiculed and castigated by unkind people.
Sherris Khan, 25, of Cumuto, says she knew when she posted the missing poster for Peep and offered a reward of $500 on April 28 some people would find it funny. But she did not anticipate the gravity of hate and spite from people who flooded the comments under the Facebook post, or those who blasted her phone with messages and calls seeking a relationship.
While many people were sympathetic and prayed for her to find her pet, a significant number told her to move on as they believed the bird had already been curried and eaten.
In an interview with Sunday Newsday in Sangre Grande on Friday, Khan said even if someone stole her pet from her home and made a meal of it she wanted closure as she considered the chicken as her child.
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"Everybody on social media does just take everything for a joke." She said she did not get any useful information about her missing pet and is constantly at edge wondering if Peep is in pain or worse, dead.
"Some people love materialistic things and they don't how to value life. I'm not looking for attention or fame, I just want my chicken back."
Khan said her mother has been a rock of support and even though she was at first sceptical about posting the missing poster on Facebook, she relented so that "the person who took Peep will realise just how much that chicken is of value to me."
This newspaper decided to not use Khan's image to protect her from further trauma.
The soft-spoken woman was emotional and on the verge of tears as she recalled her time with Peep. She said her pet lived indoors, watched television, and was at her side for most of the day whenever she is at home.
On April 24, she let Peep outside to mingle with her companions, Springs and Browns, two other layers she bought to keep her beloved chicken company. Sometime between noon and 3 pm, Peep went missing and led to a frantic search in the rural community where hunting is a vocation. She could not find any feathers or even a trail of blood in the days that followed but still clings on to hope that someone stole her chicken and may have her pet alive in captivity.
"Even if she is not alive, I still want her," Khan said. She said the first day without Peep was the hardest as she could not eat or sleep.
Every time Khan goes home she is reminded of the emptiness and silence without the happy chirping of her pet.
Last April, Khan was diagnosed with covid19 which knocked her off her feet.
She said Peep helped her cope during the pandemic and played a critical role in her recovery after her prolonged illness.
"While I was recovering from covid, I wanted to take care of something and I bought a baby chick." Her parents were unaware of her decision but they too were soon smitten by the antics of Peep who would wipe her feet on a mop before going inside the house and never pooped indoors.
She spent $25 for the one-week-old chick, which barely fit in her palm, on May 26, last year and almost instantly Peep became "a big part in my life."
Khan kept the chick in a corner of her bedroom and often on her bed as they bonded. She said Peep started to perch on her shoulder like a parrot and would come running to her like a dog when she called her by name. By the time she began to lay eggs, one a day, she had a special curtain rolled up as a nest in another corner.
"With her, I felt that I had someone. The way she reacted was like she cared also. If I was sad, she would stay at my side and helped raise my spirit."
Khan said Peep made her "feel whole" and gave her a purpose in life "even though she was just a chicken."
Although she has dogs as pets and two other chickens, Khan said Peep was her only companion as she is not a sociable person.
Khan said while she fed Peep a diet of watermelon, tomatoes, cabbage, ramen, bread and chicken feed, the chicken had a weakness for cheese.
"She would stand in front of the fridge and beg for a piece of cheese every morning. She would not move unless she got it."
Peep also has the unusual behaviour of lying at her side to sleep, unlike other chickens which usually perch on a height and love to be in an air-conditioned room or face the cool breeze of a fan.
"She does not like the hot sun and has taken over one of the single sofas in the living room to watch television with the family."
When her instincts kick in, she would go hunting under the pommerac tree scratching for insects and playing in the sand. She particularly liked crickets and her warm water baths twice a week
Khan said she has not reported her missing chicken to the police "because they will not take me seriously."
Anyone with information which could help Peep reunite with her owner can call 277-3819 and even claim the reward with no questions asked.