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The "Business" of Rescue

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From: New York Bird Club

October 30, 2008

Discussion: http://www.websitet oolbox.com/ tool/post/ luciedove/ vpost?id= 3072948

Many sanctuaries are nothing more than a business only. In the course of several minutes on this board, I have removed links from sanctuaries soliciting their business to people asking for help with their birds. None of the people requesting advice indicated they wanted to give their bird up for adoption. Furthermore, the sanctuaries all have links to breeding sites. For shame on you!

The devastating reality is more often than not, it is not about a bird's welfare but about making money. 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 earning 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.

If you must give up your bird:

Your pet's wellbeing and happiness depends on YOUR actions. It's up to you to place your bird into a suitable home where he is loved and cared for - or take a risk that your bird 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 in captivity.

If you have re-homed birds in the past, I urge you to check up on them. Call the new guardian -- or visit the rescue organization that has now possession of them. Verify that they are doing well. If you find your birds in a bad situation, please try your best to rescue them.

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 post office box number.

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.

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 post office box number.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.

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 guardians may get sick or too old to care for them or his 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! It is preferable that people and rescue organizations 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.

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 guardians may get sick or too old to care for them or his life circumstances change. We have to accept that. Some rescue organizations or "rescuers" promise "forever homes." It is preferable that people and rescue organizations 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.

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.

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 may or may not 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.

Good-hearted people are donating money - and they don't realize that their hard-earned cash may not benefit the birds.

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."

If they make a living out of caring for pet, it would not be bad while providing 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 pet birds, and rescuers are overwhelmed with unwanted pets.

A bird may be better off in a private home than in a sanctuary. A rescue organization, as good (or bad!) as it may be, sometimes cannot give your pet the attention he would be getting as part of a family. This is something to think about and consider. 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. These birds should, however, live in spacious flights, with an as-close-to- natural environment as possible - not caged.

If you are someone who makes donations, there is no point in you 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. Exotic birds should be provided with foraging opportunities and open space aviaries where they can fly and "something to do". And never donate to a sanctuary that supports breeding in any way, shape or form.

Do not be 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 does not include wild bird seeds. Anyhow, the picture 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 may benefit from extra socialization by the visiting public.

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 rescue organization.

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. Another reason for listing P.O. Boxes rather than physical addresses is sub-standard care -- 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. Another reason for not providing addresses is the security aspect of exotic bird theft. This is a real concern and measures need to be taken to protect the rescues. When setting up a rescue organization, initial funding should include securing the facilities. Security concerns shouldn't be an excuse not to provide physical addresses of donation-funded rescue operations.

A permanent home for a bird is not something to take lightly. Your involvement and doing intelligent research will mean the difference between a good and happy future for your bird, or being bounced around from shelter to shelter, languishing inside a cage for some fifty years, or worse -- being killed through neglect or outright.

If you have any doubt about a sanctuary, shelter or private home that you are thinking of giving your bird to, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Remember that your bird is counting on YOU to make the right decision, and it is your responsibility to do the best job you can. He did not ask to be bred, born and trapped inside a cage. That was YOUR decision.

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