ANNAPOLIS – When Days Cove Reclamation Co. in White Marsh announced it would give each employee a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, Marie Gleason, saw an opportunity.
Gleason wanted her bird alive, thank you very much.
Although her family does eat meat, Gleason, a strict vegetarian, was adamantly opposed to what she viewed as the needless slaughter of another turkey.
“There are 1,000 turkeys laying in Safeway. We don’t need to kill another,” said Gleason, the company’s director of administrative support. Last year, more than 600,000 Maryland turkeys were killed, most in an effort to meet the demands of Thanksgiving diners, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
Gleason said she did not want to be responsible for one more. The Baltimore mother of four contacted Poplar Springs, a Poolesville animal sanctuary that specializes in sheltering abandoned or abused farm animals. After the shelter agreed to take the turkey, she had to clear it with Ken Berlett, of the Potomac Poultry Co., which provided the turkeys.
Gleason had to convince Berlett she intended the bird no harm, something she said she found both ironic and touching.
“He was very concerned about the turkey’s welfare and didn’t want it to suffer,” Gleason said.
Bordering the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, Poplar Springs is 400 acres of protected space. The shelter is already home to two turkeys: Alice, who was found wandering in Frederick and Olivia who was rescued from Hurricane Floyd, said Terry Cummings, president of the non-profit.
Cummings encourages people to “come out and meet the turkeys. They have wonderful personalities,” she said. Alice likes to mingle with guests, and will even dance if the music is right.
Soon, she and Olivia will have a new partner to dance with, thanks to Marie Gleason.