UP Animal Lover Helps Rooster Strut His Stuff at Family Ranch

A University Park animal lover gave a chicken a new place to roost after hearing that it was stuck mid-road on Asbury Street.

Mary Grasso flew into action after seeing on the Park Cities neighborhood Facebook group that a chicken had been left in a dog crate behind someone’s car. When police officers at the scene told Grasso that the chicken’s owners were interested in rehoming it, Grasso left a note in their mailbox letting them know that she was happy to take the bird to her family’s property in the Hill Country and give it a better life.

Grasso soon heard from the chicken’s owners, but hesitated after finding out the chicken was actually an adolescent rooster named Carlito.

Carlito with his rescuer, Mary Grasso. (Photo: Courtesy Mary Grasso)

 Grasso decided to withhold judgment until she met the bird.  

“He’s a really sweet rooster,” she said.

Carlito had been living with his prior owners in University Park as an indoor pet. He had diapers, pants, and a leash, and had even traveled to the groomer for a bath. 

Upon getting Carlito home, Grasso was in for another surprise.

“As crazy as this is, chickens can actually get upper respiratory infections,” she said. “Carlito did have a runny nose and was kind of wheezing.”

Grasso spent the next day at the farm supply store picking up supplements and antibiotics. She also consulted with a chicken vet specialist. Carlito’s health regimen grew to include a homeopathic vapor three times a day, a separate medication that went in his water, injectable antibiotics, and an oral dewormer.

The rooster’s vet-recommended diet featured high-fat yogurt and fresh fruit in addition to his feed. 

“Carlito is definitely living the life right now,” Grasso said while nursing the bird back to health.

Carlito spent most of his days in University Park wandering around Grasso’s temperature-controlled backhouse. Grasso upgraded his dog crate to include nesting pads, a chicken feeder and waterer, and nesting herbs to help keep Carlito healthy and relaxed. 

Grasso’s children were thrilled when she brought Carlito home, and the family spent time playing games with him, such as burying food so that he could scratch for it.

“We found a rather large roach that we halfway killed and we gave him the roach because chickens love roaches,” Grasso said. “He thought that was pretty amazing. The kids have been snuggling with him, and we take him out and pet him and let him kind of wander and he’s very social.”

Grasso’s efforts paid off Easter weekend when Carlito had recovered sufficiently to relocate to the ranch. Grasso’s mother took over Carlito’s care so that he could continue to thrive.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Grasso, who explained that she worried about Carlito since he hadn’t acquired some rooster skills, such as flying. “It’s like a new lease on life, and hopefully he will have a beautiful, long, happy life out there.”

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