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.
Guest blog by ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker
When I separate those two words—"thanks" and "giving"—I can't help but think of all the animals we love, rescue and fight for, and the appreciation we owe them.
Pet owners are often portrayed as rescuers, with their newly-freed animals seen as rescued. But that exchange of generosity and appreciation goes both ways. We give to animals because what we get in return is immeasurable. We also owe them our thanks because, frankly, we've failed them in many ways, some horrifically.
Animals make us feel alive; they make us feel needed. They give us trust and affection without hesitation. They deliver complete loyalty and unconditional love, and respond to us with affection even when we sometimes fail them.
These are priceless things.
Just ask Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott, whose cat Koshka got him through the darkest days of his tour in Afghanistan, especially when a suicide bomber killed two close friends. Koshka gave Knott a reason to live. When he returned home to Oregon, Knott arranged for the cat to join him there. Just last week, Koshka was named "Cat of the Year" at our annual ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon, and rightfully so.
Also consider our "Dog of the Year," a pit bull puppy from Georgia named Xena who was found so abused and neglected that no one expected her to survive. Xena miraculously rebounded and was adopted by the Hickey family, including eight-year-old Jonny, who suffers from Autism. Before Xena came into his life, Jonny rarely communicated with others, and only found comfort in solitary activities. But Jonny forged a miraculous connection with Xena that brought out his personality, and reconnected him to the outside world. The Hickeys could not be more thankful.
The Henry Bergh Award, named after our founder, was given to Colorado's National Mill Dog Rescue founder Theresa Strader, who's dedicated her life to saving breeding dogs destined for death in puppy mills. Kept in deplorable conditions, these dogs' sole purpose is to pump out sellable pups; when the mothers can't continue, they're typically killed. Strader's operation has rescued and placed over 8,000 puppy mill survivors since 2007, but it's Strader who sounds thankful. Animals gave her life meaning and purpose.
Could there be bigger gifts than these?
This Thanksgiving, remember there's no limit on the amount of thanks you can give. And chances are, there's someone in your home—maybe looking longingly at the platters of hot turkey (or tofurkey) on your table or just warming a corner of your bed—who deserves all of it and more.
Whether you’re already camped out for the Black Friday sales or avoiding the crowds like the plague, there’s one promotional event happening this Friday that we can all get behind—Cat Friday at the ASPCA!
If you attend Friday’s event but don’t meet your feline match, you’ll receive a voucher for $20 off cat adoption fees, valid for three months. Consider skipping the lines and crowds to meet your new best furry friend this Friday!
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Tito is a super-affectionate canine who’ll stick to you like glue once he gets to know you. He is known to form very strong bonds with his people. He also enjoys playing with other dogs, but needs a bit of guidance to learn to play with good manners. Tito already knows Sit, and would love to have you spend some time teaching him cool new tricks.
As adorable as Tito is in photos, we think he’s even cuter in person! This special pup would do best in a home with experienced dog people and teens 15-and-up. Adopt Tito today!
Tito is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4900. To learn more about Tito, please visit his page.
When Liz D. went to the Orlando SPCA, she wasn’t expecting to leave with a dog. But Elsie the pit bull was special—a 10-12 year old girl who proves that senior pets can be the perfect addition to any family. Celebrate the end of Adopt a Senior Pet Month with their touching story, as told by Liz:
About two years ago, I was recovering from the loss of my senior German Shepherd. I found myself on the Orlando SPCA website when the photo of a senior pit bull caught my eye.
When I called about “Baby Girl,” I was told she was in the infirmary for kennel cough, and I couldn’t see her for two weeks. When I finally went to the shelter, I expected to meet her and leave. Instead, she came home with me that day! A few days later, we changed her name to Elsie.
Elsie is incredible! From the moment I got her home, it was as if she had grown up there. She is smart, funny, and so loving and sweet. I trust her with ALL my dogs, cats and livestock.
Elsie is between 10-12 and has elbow dysplasia, so she has difficulty walking and getting up. But I am so grateful that I got the chance to adopt Elsie and I have never looked back. Seniors are awesome. She has a “been there, done that” attitude, is housebroken, and is just a perfect dog!!!
Have you adopted a pet? Email us your story firstname.lastname@example.org, and we might feature it on the blog!
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Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, ASPCA News Alert - you'll receive important updates on what's going on and how you can make an impact to save animals' lives!