• WQTC 102.3

Woman spends $10k on for pet chicken's life-saving heart surgery


A Colorado chicken owner spent $10,000 on life-saving heart surgery for the bird she calls her "soulmate." Seleta Nothnagel doesn't go practically anywhere without the two-year-old Blue Maran chicken she named "Blue" and even dresses the bird up up for the trips, often in a heart-covered dress and matching diaper. "She's awesome," Nothnagel tells People. "She really enjoys being held. She would just lay in my lap and close her eyes and start purring -- and just kinda melt."

But in March, Blue didn't seem like herself. She seemed tired, short of breath, and didn't want to cuddle. "She couldn't breathe," Nothnagel says. "It was scary." After consulting with multiple vets, Nothnagel, a former veterinary tech, wound up at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where a CT scan found that Blue had a congenital heart defect. Repairing this defect is a common procedure in children and now routine in dogs and cats – but it had never been done on a bird, veterinarians explained to Nothnagel after Blue's diagnosis. The surgery was risky, and expensive – about $4,000.

However, 12 hours after the surgery, Blue was walking, eating and acting more normal. Blue's vet bills for the successful procedure and the doctor's visits leading up to it totaled around $10,000 -- 7,500 of which was not covered by Nothnagel's pet insurance. She has no regrets though. "I'd totally do it again," she says. "You want the best for your pets. She's family."

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