Domestic pigeons and doves can make wonderful pets and are often available for adoption, but tend to be overlooked by a cat- and dog-focused public.
In areas such as San Francisco, King pigeons are bred for meat (squab) and sold at live-food markets. Although some of them escape or are set free by well-meaning individuals, they can’t survive on their own in the wild and often fall prey to other animals, illness or injury. To make matters worse – when they do wind up in an animal shelter, their chances of finding homes are poor.
In celebration of National Bird Day (January 5), and in support of organizations providing sanctuary or rescuing and rehoming homeless pet birds, the ASPCA issued a special call for proposals to improve the welfare of birds at risk and to save more lives. A total of $30,000 in avian rescue grants was awarded nationwide. Among the recipients of these grants was the San Francisco-based MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue, which received $5,000 that allowed the group to rehabilitate and rehome 20 at-risk domestic pigeons and doves. Several of the birds who had bonded as pairs were even more fortunate to be adopted into the same home together.
MickaCoo Founder and Executive Director Elizabeth Young has been working tirelessly to support these overlooked and underserved birds since 2007. She initially didn’t intend to become a pigeon rescuer, but says that when she started volunteering at an animal shelter she saw that “while all the other animals had various rescues and nonprofits working on their behalf, the King pigeons didn't. King pigeons are calm and very adaptable,” Young explains. “They're alert but not prone to panic. Their energy level is much lower than that of parrots and they tend to have really great leisure skills – lounging and napping and watching more than being busy.”
An ASPCA avian grant isn’t all that MickaCoo has to crow about – in November 2013 it received the GreatNonprofits 2013 “Top-Rated Nonprofit” Award in the category of animal-welfare organizations in San Francisco. Less than 1 percent of nonprofits nationwide are eligible for this award.
More About MickaCoo
The MickaCoo volunteer network responds to calls from shelters, vets, and the public to provide care for ill or injured birds, long-term foster care, and assistance in preparing and placing adoptable birds into qualified forever homes. MickaCoo foster volunteers care for a caseload of approximately 100 birds at any given time.