The "Business" of Rescue
The Devastating Reality is:
More Often Than Not -- It's not about a Bird's Welfare but About
Exotic birds have become valuable commodities
and they are, therefore, frequently targeted by "business people"
whose focus is not the welfare of birds, but for whom they represent a
means of making a living. Proper care would cut
into profit margins. Birds in the care of these self-proclaimed
"rescuers" are suffering from emotional and physical neglect.
This problem is heart-breaking and overwhelming and we may not be able to save all birds - HOWEVER, let's save one at a time - let's start with YOURS!
Topics on this Page:
- Placing Your Pets: If you have re-homed pets in the past or might be doing so in the future, I urge you to read this
- Donating Money or Your Time : So you think the money you are donating benefits the rescued birds? Before paying out another dollar - you may want to read this.
- Your Input: Feel free to e-mail your
input and comments to the webmaster.
Share your own experiences with rescue organizations - good or bad!
If your reason for wanting to re-home your pet bird is lack of manageability and behavioral problems -- please consider educating yourself on parrot behavior and training. With a little effort and time, behavioral problems can be resolved and your companion bird can indeed be the pet you always wanted.
However, if circumstances force you to give up your pet - I urge you to proceed with caution.
- Your pet's wellbeing and happiness depends on YOUR actions. It's up to you to place your pet into a suitable home where it is loved and cared for - or take a risk that your pet may be permanently imprisoned in a cage with minimal care - or worse. This is most surely not something to take lightly.
- Avoid "Bird Storage Facilities": One
rescuer described himself as a "prison guard" and he hit the nail right
on the head - that is exactly what he is. The devastating aspect of it
all is that the only "crime" these birds have committed was being born
- If you have re-homed birds in the past - I urge you to check up on them. Call the new owner -- or visit the rescue organization that has now possession of them. Verify that they are doing well. If you find your pets in a bad situation, please try your best to rescue them.
The Better Way To Place Your Pet:
- Place your pet with a relative or a friend who you know will love and care for your pet.
- Use your local resources: Your local avian vet or animal rescue officer may know of someone who would provide a good home for your pet.
- Get in touch with bird lovers who appreciate and know the bird species: One of my favorite ways of finding a good temporary or permanent home for a parrot is to join a relevant mailinglist. Go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/ - do a search on your bird's species; i.e., cockatoo, amazon parrots. Find a high-volume relevant mailinglist and listen in for a while. You will find that many of the people on these lists really know these birds. Once you are comfortable with the participants, post that you are looking for a temporary or permanent home. State your area and see what happens. Hopefully, you will hear from several people. I would then send a discreet e-mail to the list administrator(s) and ask them for their opinion. Also check the archives of that list for posts from those people who have expressed an interest in your bird. All that information should give you a good take on the people and their suitability. I found this to be the very best way to find someone who is truly compatible with the bird species and is focused on providing the best possible care.
- Place an ad in your local classifieds: Screen
potential homes carefully. Inquire about their experience with birds.
Find out what set-up your bird would be in.
Explain to the potential owners your bird's specific needs and
- Don't assign a "zero" value to your pet. - If you choose to advertise your pet, it is especially important to assign a monetary value to him or her. I understand that your priority is to find a good home, but you have to remember:
- if someone can't afford to pay money for a bird, they can't afford to take care of it.
- "Free birds" are less likely to receive health care and more likely to be targeted by scrupulous "business people" whose primary motivation is to exploit your pet.
- DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, accept a payment plan that allows your bird to go to someone's house before all payments are made. In fact, I wouldn't even give my birds to anyone who can't afford to pay the adoption fee outright. One of the most frequent scams is for these people NEVER to pay a dime and they tell the previous owners that their bird has died just to get them off their backs. It's not just about the loss of money - but these scam artists are not likely to take care of the birds that they steal (and that's exactly what they are doing). It's the birds that will suffer in the end.
- Parrot Education & Adoption Agencies: If
you can't find a good home for your pet, there are some agencies that
will temporarily house your bird, train prospective bird owners to
properly care for their pets and, finally, they will place birds into
carefully screened homes. The best ones I have heard of are listed
- Should a bird rescue or sanctuary be your only option, there are ways to identify the better ones. Click here to find out more ...
Things to Look Out For:
- BEWARE! Some "Business People" masquerade as bird sanctuaries / bird rescue organizations. They may have attained non-profit status ($50 bucks and a government form, duly completed, will enable anyone to do so). Don't rely on their fake "educational websites" alone - VISIT THEIR FACILITIES! If you have to make an appointment, you may safely assume that this "rescue & adoption agency" has something to hide. They obviously need time to "stage" their bird areas for your visit. Another great indicator of a "fake" or bad bird rescue organization is if the only address you find on their website or yellow pages is a "P.O. Box number,:
- The Empty Promise of "Forever Homes:"
Parrots have a long lifespan and the average parrot changes homes 15
times in his or her life. This may be very sad -- but this is reality.
The owners may get sick or too old to care for them. The owner's life
circumstances change. We have to accept that. Some Rescue Organizations
or Rescuers promise "forever homes."
This is a promise nobody can truly keep -and maybe SHOULDN'T KEEP! I would prefer people and rescue organizations to recognize if they can no longer provide proper care to the birds - rather than hanging on to them NO MATTER WHAT even though the animals are suffering.
The fact is that many rescue organizations eventually go out of business. Either they themselves have gotten sick or old and are no longer able to care for birds, or their life circumstances dictate them to give up rescue. Either way, nobody can ever promise a "forever home" not knowing what their own future holds in stock for them.
Visit the facilities several times and take note of how the birds are being kept. If you see the birds permanently caged, if their cages are unreasonably dirty and you don't see extra food dishes for vegetables / fruits and other nutritious food items -- DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES allow them to have your bird. The better rescue organizations will allow the birds to be outside of their cages a good part of the day -- or even BETTER, they provide the birds with their own area in which they are allowed to roam around freely.
During your re-homing efforts, you are likely to come in contact with the following:
- Hoarders: Bird hoarders tend to be kind, bird-loving people, who are suffering from
a mental disorder that predisposes them to collect animals. They are
doing it for the right reasons -- their love of the animals, but the
more birds they have the less they can properly care for them.
Hoarding - if not intervened - progresses to a point where the hoarder is unable to provide even minimal care -- usually culminating in the death of animals.
Whenever you see a household overrun with cages and / or animals, you are likely to be dealing with a hoarder. This website will provide you more information on this condition.
- Business People: They may play a
great act, promising a wonderful home for your birds with lots of love,
best of care -- but don't be fooled.
Good food, bird toys and quality bird care come with a price tag
that "business people" usually don't want to pay. More often than not,
they provide minimal care until the bird either stops producing
money-making offspring or is sold at a profit.
These individuals will often masquerade as a bird rescue - in fact, they may even be registered as a non-profit organization (50 bucks and the completion of a government form will get you that). But their primary intention is to get free birds to turn around to sell for profit, to obtain free breeding stock or to simply live off donations without properly caring for the birds.
- Who is Who? Hoarders generally don't
actively seek birds. They are usually known bird lovers and people just
have learned to rely on them to accept unwanted birds into their homes.
This being said, if they hear of a bird in need of a home, they are
likely to offer themselves as an option.
"Business people" - on the other hand -- frequently respond to classified ads or they actively advertise to receive free birds. They may put it in the context of replacing a beloved pet that died, or "wishing to give a good home to a 'macaw,' ' 'cockatoo,' 'african grey.' "The fact that they are looking to give a home to one specific species - which generally is valuable - is a good indication that they are seeking to make profit - either through reselling the "free" bird or breeding your bird.
The owner of one registered "non-profit bird rescue organization" summarized it nicely in one sentence: "I make more money with donations than I would be - working at a grocery store."
I wouldn't mind if they make a living out of caring for pets. In fact, we gladly pay people whose focus is to provide loving and quality care to rescues, ensuring lots of mental and physical stimulation, good nutrition and health care. However, if they fail to do that -- they are exploiting these precious birds and misguiding donors.
The reality is that people like that are out there. You may have been paying money trusting their websites, their fundraising mailers - real tear-jerker stories. The reality may look very different. The birds may be provided MINIMAL CARE while the owners are financing their own lifestyle with your donations.
As long as you keep sending them your money, they will have no incentive to discontinue their unethical business. In fact, you might be contributing to the birds being kept in horrible conditions. Once they stop getting your donations, they would get rid of the birds in a heartbeat; and these unfortunate creatures would stand a chance at some quality of life.
It is undeniable that more ethical Bird Sanctuaries are urgently needed. The markets are flooded with unwanted petbirds, and rescuers are overwhelmed with unwanted pets. We need to take care of those sanctuaries whose priority truly is the welfare of the birds in their care. These rescue organizations fulfill a very important role in caring for rescued and abandoned birds or beloved pets whose owners are no longer able to care for them.
- Pet Birds: I personally feel that a friendly, well-adjusted pet bird is better off in a private home than in a sanctuary. A rescue organization, as good (or bad!) as it may be, cannot give your pet the attention it would be getting as part of a family.
- Some birds, however, cannot be rehabilitated. This is a fact of life. They have been damaged "beyond repair." Rescue Organizations often are their only option ... I would like to see these birds in spacious flights, with an as-close-to-natural environment as possible - not caged.
- Your donations. There is no point in us paying for bird storage facilities. Frankly, these birds would be better off dead than lingering in cages their entire life waiting for food to be delivered. There is no quality of life in that. Donations should ONLY be given to those organizations whose first priority is the birds. If you can visit and check out the facilities, please do so ... or do some research on the organization you are interested in donating to.
- Support your local wildlife / exotic bird
sanctuary. My local wildlife sanctuary is Flamingo
Gardens, in Davie, FL. http://www.flamingogardens.org/
. This sanctuary is about 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale, FL. If you
live in, or are planning on visiting, Southern Florida, I would really
recommend checking it out. It's a great park. I particularly enjoy the
walk-in aviary where visitors are able to get a close-up view of the
beautiful local wildlife. You will find that many of the birds are not
releasable. They may have a wing or a leg missing, damaged beaks, etc.
The walk-in aviary is large, with little ponds for the water birds to
enjoy. It really brings nature back to the rescued birds who would have
otherwise perished. Many of the birds are pretty friendly as they have
grown used to visitors. This sanctuary also has parrots that people
dropped off. I did have an issue initially with this sanctuary as they
didn't provide toys for them. However, at least they were in nice-size
aviaries in a natural, rather beautiful, setting. Still, I feel strongly
that exotic birds should be provided with foraging opportunities and
"something to do." I donated some toys and noticed in their latest
newsletter they have included "bird toys" on their wish list of
- How you can help your local wildlife / exotic bird
sanctuary: After checking them out, to make sure that the birds
are well taken care of
- Shopping: Purchase items from their shop -- if available. For example, I purchase ALL my t-shirts from Flamingo Gardens. I like the beautiful nature motives and the quality is wonderful. Plus, it makes me feel good that I sponsor these beautiful animals at the park while purchasing items I need anyhow.
- Membership: Become a member. I am a member of this sanctuary and the annual membership entitles me with free access to the sanctuary (while visitors otherwise have to pay an entrance fee).
- Volunteering: If you have the
time to help, please consider doing so. For example at Flamingo
Gardens, it would be wonderful if people could help create a more fun
"foraging" environment for the exotic birds. The parrot aviaries are a
bit too "basic" and could be improved upon. I understand that there are
only a couple of animal caretakers at that park and they are somewhat
overwhelmed. They do, considering the resources they have, a great job
though. If you would prefer to help in other areas, just ask what your
local sanctuary's needs are.
- How you can help your local wildlife / exotic bird sanctuary: After checking them out, to make sure that the birds are well taken care of
- PLEASE - BE NOT mislead by a website featuring rescued birds, happily munching on goodies while being perched on nice bird gyms ... All of this means nothing. Those photos could have been staged -- one happy afternoon outside their cages in a lifetime. These birds may already be dead.
One of these bird rescues featured birds on their website that they no longer had in their possession -- but you could "sponsor" them! Their so-called "free-flight aviary" advertised on their website and fundraising mailers was a scam - the birds were all caged. Not only that, they were fed wild bird seeds - amazing really, since they present themselves as bird care educators and preach about the specific nutritional requirements of birds - which, believe me, does not include wild bird seeds. Anyhow, the picture I got was very different from what the website and the fundraising mailers made donors believe.
The following are IMPORTANT indicators that the rescue organization is reputable and provides good care to birds:
- They allow public access to the animals or
the sanctuary for at least part of the day. Real rescue organizations
have, or should have, nothing to hide.
- They will allow the public access to at least view the birds.
It may be through windows, as some are justifiably concerned about
pathogens being carried into the bird areas or people stealing birds.
This being said, when precautions are taken, these risks can be
minimized -- and the birds most certainly would benefit from extra
socialization by the visiting public.
- They will allow the public access to at least view the birds. It may be through windows, as some are justifiably concerned about pathogens being carried into the bird areas or people stealing birds. This being said, when precautions are taken, these risks can be minimized -- and the birds most certainly would benefit from extra socialization by the visiting public.
- Disease Control: New birds should not
be introduced into the existing flock of rescued birds, but they should
be quarantined and vet tested for diseases.
Inquire about their policies with regard to quarantining and
- If you take your bird in and find that they allow you and your bird immediate access into a room with other birds, you would be better of taking your bird back home, as such reckless neglect will increase your bird's chances of catching a deadly disease.
- Real rescue organizations rescue ANY birds -- not just the valuable ones. In digging further, you may find that many rescue organizations will only accept expensive, sometimes also referred to as "endangered", species. When you see that -- this is an excellent indicator of a rescue organization with a hidden agenda.
- The fact is that any bird in peril deserves love, care and protection - not only those that hold the most monetary value. If the rescue organization that you are considering placing your bird with or donating to has such exclusions or restrictions - I hope you will reconsider. "Selective rescuing" belies what a rescue should be all about.
- Check out the address:
Registered non-profit rescue organizations should list a
physical addresses. After all, they are funded through public donations
and the public has every right to know the physical address of this
Organizations that are not registered as a non-profit shouldn't be raising public funds / donations. As private individuals, they have every right to either publish or not publish their address. Although, if they present themselves as a rescue organization and they don't provide you with their address, I would be very suspicious.
- Fake Rescues: Listing a P.O. Box, instead of a physical address, allows people to create fictional sanctuaries for which they can raise funds from the unsuspecting public.
- Sub-standard Care: Another reason for listing P.O. Boxes rather than physical addresses is that they don't want the public to see the facilities and/or the way the birds are set up and cared for. They don't want that because they know the public wouldn't approve of the conditions the animals are kept in.
- But How About Security? One reason for not providing addresses is the security aspect: "Exotic Birds Theft" to be specific. This is a real concern and measures need to be taken to protect the rescues. When setting up a rescue organization, initial funding needs to go to securing the facilities. Security concerns shouldn't be an excuse not to provide physical addresses of donation-funded rescue operations.
Bird rescue is not just about taking in and caring for birds. People who go into that business have to realize that they will need to spend a good part of their time on administrative tasks and raising funds for these birds. It's not fun -- but it's a vital part of their job description.
They may have to spend several hours a day setting up fund-raising events, creating mailers, and contacting manufacturers to receive food and toy donations. Bird rescue is not just about "playing with the birds" all day and cleaning up after them -- it's also about meeting the financial needs of a rescue organization.
Fundraising is an important job for any rescue organization. If rescuers are unwilling to spend sufficient time on this task, or are simply not successful at it, they are putting at risk the birds in their care -- and, frankly, then they shouldn't be in bird rescue.
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