I have loved animals my entire life, and there is only one thing that I have always hated about sharing my life with them—having to say “goodbye” far too early. I think most of us can agree that if we could change one thing about our pets it would be their longevity.
But sometimes that very attribute that we all seek in our pets—the ability to live long, healthy and happy lives—can present a challenge. This is particularly the case with large captive exotic birds such as parrots, macaws and cockatoos that can live more than 65 years. Since many large birds can outlive their human guardians, they are often by necessity re-homed several times during their lives. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to re-home a bird and many animal shelters do not take in homeless birds.
Birds of all sizes can be wonderful companions, as they are intelligent and captivating. They can also be loud and messy when expressing their natural behaviors. However, when deprived of an outlet for their natural behaviors (such as flight) they may bite, pull out their feathers or get depressed. Birds are sensitive to various stressors and, depending on their size, may be expensive to care for. Too often people who acquire birds as pets do not educate themselves before they do so and, hence, do not understand their special needs. Given all of these factors, shelters and sanctuaries that do take in homeless birds are rapidly filling.
Unwanted Birds Local animal shelters would do well to develop relationships with avian rescue groups and community bird groups. These species-specific experts can offer foster care and re-homing options.
If you are currently the guardian of an unwanted bird, please know that releasing exotic captive birds into the wild is a death sentence for most. If you cannot find another home for him or her on your own, contact your local shelter or bird rescue.
For shelters that are considering the implementation of a bird program, always keep in mind that birds are prey animals and that stress should be minimized. Work with local avian rescues to train your shelter personnel in bird care. The information necessary to safely care for birds is far too complex to convey here, but certain practices are universal, such as the importance of taking a good history upon intake. First, you should find out why the bird is being surrendered. What problem behaviors does he exhibit? How old is he? How many homes has he had and how long did he live at each home? Has he lived with and gotten along with other birds? What other animals has he been exposed to? Does he prefer one gender? Is the bird male or female? What does he eat? Obtaining answers to these questions is important to the bird’s next guardians as well as to the veterinarian and shelter staff.
House birds in a relatively quiet room in the shelter. Before a bird is handled at the shelter, try to observe him. Monitor his alertness. Remember that the bird may not be used to handling by strangers. When you are ready to handle him, make sure you have all your equipment and supplies ready, to minimize stress. All captive birds should be banded, so take note of the numbers on those bands. For shelters that have an active bird program, new birds should be quarantined from the rest of your flock for 40 days to safeguard health.
ASPCA Avian Grant Program I hope that one day there is a safe shelter or rescue in every community for legal pets of all types, but until then species-specific rescue groups need our support. To that end, the ASPCA has issued a call for proposals open to 501(c)(3) avian rescues and sanctuaries to improve the welfare of birds. We will award up to a total of $25,000 in grants of $500-5,000 to help deserving groups promote adoptions, make capital improvements, purchase enrichment equipment, train shelter staff in bird care, and pay for vet care for victims of abuse or neglect. More details can be found about the ASPCA’s bird grant program at ASPCAPro.org/aspca-grants. Act soon, since all applications must be received no later than March 1, 2012.
We’ve all seen them: shocking online photos and video clips of animals being abused. Internet cruelty is horrible, and you have every right to be upset about it. The best way to stop this type of abuse is to immediately report it to the proper authorities and refrain from contacting, visiting or forwarding links to friends. Here are a few tips on how to report websites that display acts of cruelty to animals:
First contact the website host or sponsor. Major sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, have Terms of Service that restrict the depiction of objectionable material.
We all love cats, but it’s so much easier to spot a dog lover. They can publicly parade their pooch with pride. Well, cat lovers, that’s all about to change—now’s your chance to put your kitty love up front and center! We’ve just teamed up with country music star Kellie Pickler and Fresh Step® to celebrate February as Cat Appreciation Month.
Here’s the deal: We’re asking cat lovers to show their feline pride by posting a picture of themselves wearing their favorite cat-centric clothing or accessory to the Fresh Step® Facebook page. Cat lover Kellie Pickler is leading the charge! She’ll be wearing a limited edition cat sweater designed exclusively for the ASPCA with fashion designer Geren Ford.
Fresh Step will donate $1 (up to $100,000) to the ASPCA for each picture posted by March 15. Don’t have any kitty couture? Check out the cool app Fresh Step® created—you can digitally photoshop one of Kellie’s sweaters onto your photo. Upload your pic here!
Our snuggly, playfulpuppySpruce has spent most of his young life at the ASPCA. On January 25, Spruce will turn one year old—and we’re pretty sure his Number 1 birthday wish is a loving forever home. (OK, Number 2 is probably a rope toy.) Will you help us find him a home?
Spruce loves snuggling with people, playing with other dogs, and getting lots of exercise. (He’s the perfect running buddy.) He’s loved by those who work closely with him, but he’s had lots of bad luck in his short life.
Spruce first came to us as a three-pound, little puppy. He and his siblings had just been rescued from the streets of the Bronx. We watched Spruce grow and get adopted…and then come back to us due to a change in his adopter’s life. Unfortunately for Spruce, this happened a few more times—always because his adopters had a life change.
Enough is enough. Spruce deserves better. He needs stability, and a family who will love him forever—no matter what. Could that be you?
We’re hoping that some experienced dog folks will give Spruce the happy first birthday he deserves. If you live in a 12-and-up household and would enjoy cuddling and working with this energetic sweetie, come meet Spruce! Call our Animal Placement department in New York City at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4120, to learn more. Know someone who’s perfect for Spruce? Share him on Facebook and Twitter!
Just in: Jonathan Kennard Williams, 27, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for charges related to dog fighting, weapons possession and drugs. Last April, the ASPCA assisted in the rescue and forensics evidence collection of 41 dogs seized from Williams’ property in Halifax, Virginia. The dogs, many of them used for fighting, were found living in deplorable conditions with no access to clean water.
In addition to conspiring to sell dogs with the intent for the animals to be used in dog fighting, Williams pleaded guilty to several counts of distributing drugs and weapons possession. He was also sentenced to six years’ probation after his release from prison.
“Dog fighting is often associated with other illegal activity such as drugs and weapons,” says Terry Mills, ASPCA Blood Sports Director. “It’s a heinous crime that has become both an animal welfare and public safety issue.”
The ASPCA remained involved with the dogs rescued during the raid, and today dogs from Williams’ compound are in loving homes across the country.
“Thanks to the diligence of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the local agencies, Mr. Williams was held accountable for exploiting these innocent animals,” says Mills.
Dog fighting remains a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more information on our efforts to stop dog fighting, please visit Raids and Investigations.