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Pet Parrot Peeve

Mira Tweti | Aug 01, 2015


I'm sure this will go over like a lead balloon in some quarters. But, after 20 years of rescuing & rehabbing more than 150 birds I've developed a strong "us vs them" feeling for veterinarians that make $ treating birds rescued from abusive situations when the funds are coming from people without money who did a good deed. If it "takes a village to raise a child" it takes a city to medically, psychologically, and physically rehab and care for an animal that otherwise would have died a sorry death and now can live for another 40 years but only if the public is made aware and contributes, and everyone in a position to help does so gratis.

I don't consider myself a rescuer. I'm an animal welfare journalist but it's hard to avoid getting involved when people who know my work (exposes' on parrot trade here & abroad, & 2 books on parrots) inform me of one or 101 parrots in dire need. As a freelancer, I don't have the means to cover the vet costs. And none of the full-time parrot rescuers I know of (and I know a lot, like hundreds) have slush funds for the kinds of treatment - from broken wings to broken beaks, tumors, cataracts, and the myriad of diseases these birds are prone to when kept in miserable conditions for decades at a time. Rescuing a bird becomes a punishment, as in "no good deed goes unpunished." Because someone was willing to go the extra distance and actually take action to help an animal in need, by unfair default, they become responsible for all of the bird's expenses for the rest of its life (or until they find it a new home; lol, easier said than done). Instead of getting support they beg, borrow and almost have to steal the funds to cover what quickly become the costliest aspect of the rescue: paying veterinarians. It's not fair. It's not "their" bird anymore than it's your bird. In fact, they've done you the favor of not having to rescue it or worry about its care. They've given up taking vacations to be around 24/7 to administer shots or eye drops, or just make sure the bird doesn't rip off the bandages and self-mutilate a deeper gash on its chest before it can heal. They've literally given up a normal life for one that is nonstop demanding 24/7. And they have to pay for the privilege of cleaning up copious amounts of bird poop and being bitten to shreds by birds who now hate all humans and like to show how much.

I start to feel like a 2nd class citizen when I hear myself begging for lowered rates and free feeding syringes ($4 apiece otherwise). Why is it okay for me to sacrifice but wrong to expect others to do the same? The answer is, it's not okay. That bird doesn't belong to the first responder anymore than a fire victim is the responsibility of the firefighter. In the human world, it's everyone else's - the hospital staff, friends, family, et al, even the drug companies. Where are the doctors without borders for damaged, homeless, parrots? One answer is that vets, whom we have to assume love animals even more than the rest of us, need to stop charging fees for birds without bank accounts!

Why is it okay for me to invest everything I have on a bird that will hopefully only be with me a short time and then on to a good, permanent home but wrong to ask professionals who have made a lifetime commitment to the care of animal? I know they have overhead. I have overhead. And they don't need to trade out paying patients for non. No one is asking anyone to give up money. Just don't try to get blood from a stone. Personally, I find it morally reprehensible.