Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Verdugo Pets wasn't open Friday

On Christmas Eve I ran out of mash for my three chicks, bantam hens named Rainbow, Sparkle, and Cutie Patootie. Verdugo Pet Shop, where I buy a very inexpensive custom poultry mix was open for business. The shop, on York in Highland Park, has been opened for 35 years.

But yesterday it was closed. I pulled up in front at about 3:30 p.m., with my daughter and her friend, and the metal gates were pulled shut. A note was taped to the front door. It said that Hervey Chapman, the proprietor, is very ill and would the longtime customers of this unusual shop consider buying one of the animals or the products he sells. There was a list posted of all the animals.

It's not your regular pet store. Most of the critters are birds - lots of chickens for sale and doves, including tiny little diamond-back doves about the size of a sparrow. Sometimes there are quail. There are finches, lovebirds, and sometimes there are three or four rabbits and maybe one pregnant guinea pig. In the back there are some fish that I never look at. There is also lots of dust and some cobwebs. There is the odor you might expect from a place that houses so many birds. I always enjoy going to the shop because Chapman takes the time to talk chicken, warning me against letting mildew form in their coop, telling me my chickens are spoiled. Spoiled! I am buying too much food for them. Despite the fact that his feed is inexpensive, he offers suggestions on ways to minimize wasted feed (i.e., feed them less and make them hunt for what they've scattered).

After I got home on Friday, I looked up Verdugo Pet online. Yelp had four reviews; three of the reviewers were offended that the shop wasn't just like PETCO. No gleaming aisles, no underpaid workers in blue shirts - Cobwebs! Odor! No prices on anything! And the proprietor in the back when one of the offended parties entered the shop! And, to cap it all off, only a couple of bunnies! (Where are the puppy-mill puppies, for chrissakes?)

Jeez. Get a life. Or get over the big-box mentality. Or better yet, get some chickens.

In the meantime, Chicken Corner's most sincere hopes for a full recovery for Mr. Chapman.

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