How a Local Prank Reunited an Alzheimer's Patient with Her Therapy Chicken

Posted by Daphne Cybele
alzheimer's patient

A practical joke lead to a happy ending for one therapy chicken.

Thanks to animal control officer Peter MacKinnon and a little bit of luck, JaJa the therapy chicken returned home to her rightful owner on Thursday, August 17.

MacKinnon is the animal control officer in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. He retires this month after 28 years of service. So when he heard about the stray chicken dodging traffic on Ashworth Avenue he wasn't sure what to think.  

Much to his surprise when he arrived, there was a chicken running loose on Ashworth Avenue. Once he'd safely collected the stray chicken, MacKinnon decided to let it run around the police chief's office as a bit of a joke. The police station is familiar with MacKinnon's jokes. Some of his past animal pranks include an alligator, a seagull, and a python in the station locker room.

So, as one final prank before his retirement, MacKinnon put the chicken he had rescued from traffic on the police chief's office chair.

"Our retiring, soon to be retired, animal control officer has quite a sense of humor," Police Chief Richard Sawyer told Seacoast Online. "He decided it was time to let some wildlife loose in my office."  

Pictures of the chicken in the chief's desk chair made the local paper. Meanwhile, JaJa was given a new home on a local farm.

therapy chicken JaJa
Hampton Police Dept via Bangor Daily News

Sweet Reunion

That little prank of MacKinnon's happily led to a sweet reunion between the chicken and her actual owner, Anna Doucette. Since Ja Ja was in the paper because of her run in the police station, Anna's daughter, Patricia Lamonday, spotted her mother's missing therapy chicken.  

Lamonday's mother Anna is 90 years old and she has Alzheimer's. JaJa is one of her four therapy chickens: Jaja, Patunia, Suzy Q, and Queen Ann.


This team of four hens works very well as therapy pets for Anna. The hens help Anna recall earlier memories of growing up with chickens, and they allow Anna some autonomy.

"This is the best therapy we could have done for her. It gives her a good sense of independence. She's out there and feeds them and collects the eggs," Lamonday told Seacoast Online.

While all the hens are good therapy chickens, JaJa is Anna's favorite; she is the friendliest hen of the four chickens. JaJa was missing for about a week, and her family had just about given up hope of ever finding her. She is now safe and home!

All's Well That Ends Well

So, it seems like Peter MacKinnon deserves many congratulations on his retirement. Most of all, he deserves many thanks for his sense of humor because his joke led to the return of JaJa! We love happy endings!

therapy hen
Screenshot from The Hensioners/YouTube

Chickens as therapy pets for Alzheimer's patients is a fairly recent development compared to other species of therapy pets. Want to learn more about chickens as therapy pets? There is a cute video about hens as therapy pets in nursing homes called The Hensioners.

Aren't you glad that JaJa finally made it home safely? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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How a Local Prank Reunited an Alzheimer's Patient with Her Therapy Chicken