Rescued and Adopted.
About a year ago, I did a presentation at the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture about getting the word out about your club, rescue, agenda, your work, your product; whatever it was that you were promoting. It was a pretty solid presentation about “branding” your organization and lifting your profile. And unlike me, it was funny. In one of the sections of the presentation, I made a reference to Susan Friedman and her work with educating the masses about positive reinforcement behavior training. I asked how many people knew her six years before. No hands. I asked how many people knew her now. TONS of hands! Then I asked the same question about myself: How many people knew me now? Some hands. How many knew me three years ago? One hand. What? Hey! There weren’t supposed to be any hands! I laughed and we all got a chuckle that this one person happened to read the first article I’d ever written for Bird Talk.
Relinquished and Adopted.
I have a point here, bear with me. The point is, if you know me, if you’ve read my work and if you even have an inkling about me and what I believe in, you know that I support adoption and rescue. I regularly glue my fingers and pant legs together making items from molted feathers to be auctioned off for adoption and rescue foundations. I support Phoenix Landing, the NPRPF, and scads of others who are attempting to do the right thing. Well, apparently that little fact has escaped one website completely. Well, maybe it didn’t, but they didn’t care.
Here’s what happened: I put together a pretty nifty little video for my friends at the Parrot Garden at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest animal sanctuary and adoption foundation in the country. Thought I’d show my appreciation for their kindness, and for letting me ask them incessant questions, stick my video camera in their faces every five minutes and have them repeat what they just said so I could show the world the incredible work they’re doing.
One of the BF staff members posted the link to the video on a rather hard core adoption-supportive forum. It was taken down due to the fact that I had a link to a woman who has amazingly good information on her website. She happens to be a breeder. Doesn’t matter that she is brilliant. Doesn’t matter that she is very helpful to all who contact her. She’s a breeder. Apparently she is evil. And because that link was on my website, I must be censored.
Information is information. Good information is even better. And I believe in good information. Now apparently, this particular group doesn’t even like people who have rescues if they have anything to do with anyone who is even associated with anything to do with breeding.
Well, gee whiz! Does that mean they don’t give their birds commercial pellets because breeders use the same product? Or don’t buy toys from certain bird toy companies because they sell their toys to stores who sell birds? How far does this go? Where does it stop? How much disassociation from breeders do you need to have before you are considered “pure?”
How well-intentioned is “well-intentioned?” How many degrees of separation do you need before you are considered worthy of being considered as, “One who promotes adoption?”
Rescued and Adopted.
For example, I’m not the kind of person that will hang out with Charles Manson just because we both like to write. I won’t be spending much time with that kind of person because that’s just crazy.
But conversely, I’m not going to be hanging around much with Handmaids of the Precious Blood either. (It’s a cloistered convent) I’m sure they’re a real nice group of gals, but we don’t have a lot in common. Doesn’t mean they’re bad. How bad can a convent of nuns who pray all day really be?
It just means that we look at the world differently, that’s all. I’m not going to try and get them to understand why I promote rescuing birds when they’re busy trying to save souls by praying. Does that make me bad? No, at least I don’t think so.
Rescued. Re-habbed. Rehomed.
Does that make them bad, when I think they would serve the world better by coming out of their cloistered convent and help the world with their hands rather than their prayers? Again, no. It’s just a different point of view. It’s been said that the Rescues are overflowing due to breeders. While I’m not a fan of breeding, I don’t think that’s the root of the problem.
I think the problem is lack of education.
Let me repeat that:
I think the problem is lack of education.
Jacque of Best Friends Parrot Garden says it best right here:
She said, “It’s all education.”
I take no money from writing this blog. I don’t take any money because I don’t advertise. That’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about education and information. Let me repeat that:
This blog is about education and information.
Relinquished, Rehabbed and Re-homed.
It’s not about supporting breeders or condemning breeders. It’s about getting information out. Frank Abignale was the focus of the film “Catch Me If You Can.” According to Wikipedia:
Frank William Abagnale, Jr. (born April 27, 1948) is an American security consultant best known for his history as a former confidence trickster, cheque forger, skilled impostor, and escape artist. He became notorious in the 1960s for successfully passing US$2.5 million worth of meticulously forged checks across 26 countries over the course of five years, beginning when he was 16 years old.
It goes on to say this:
He is currently a consultant and lecturer at the academy and field offices for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also runs Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.
Sounds to me like the FBI condemned what he did, but liked his information enough to hire him and they pay this convicted criminal to help them solve crimes. Does that make the FBI bad?
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary had a great series about them called “Dogtown.” It ran for four years on National Geographic. It brought their profile up tremendously while simultaneously raising their volunteer rate and donations. It went up so much so due to that show, they were overwhelmed with people who wanted to help.
Problem is, Nat Geo also has “The Dog Whisperer” on the same channel. Caesar Milan’s training methods aren’t all positive reinforcement. His methods are criticized by many for his use of flooding techniques, etc. Best Friends doesn’t use those techniques. They don’t condone those techniques from what I’ve gathered.
Rescued. Re-habbed. Re-homed.
Does that mean Best Friends shouldn’t have had that show on Nat Geo because they also run “The Dog Whisperer?” Isn’t that throwing the baby out with the bath water? Well! Let’s censure Best Friends because National Geographic had another show running that doesn’t use pure positive reinforcement training! Now, how does this make sense? It doesn’t. That’s just silly.
National Geographic also sells leather footwear on their website. Best Friends has a ton of vegetarians working for them. Their lunch dining room is vegetarian. Again, should Best Friends censure Nat Geo because of this? A lot more good came out of “Dogtown” than bad.
I think we need to choose our battles. And keep our eye on the ball. So all of this fuss because I had a link to a woman who is very knowledgeable about birds who happens to be a breeder. You know, it just isn’t that important having that link. Never was. I really didn’t even think about it at all until this dust was kicked up. I thought I was doing the right thing by getting good information out. Apparently I was wrong. Now, I have to be careful of who’s information it is and where it comes from. Even if it might help someone.
October 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm
Patricia: All we can do is what we think is right. If there was good information on that site, then use it. Many times I have called on a breeder to help with rehoming or helping a new owner with a bird and I have never had one of them turn me down. On the other hand, I have had rescues that refused to even talk to these people or they would only do it if they could keep the bird.
As I said, YOU do what you think is right. Do not allow extremists to dictate to you what you believe.
October 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm
Thank you Bonnie. If this blog was strictly about rescuing birds, it would be different. It’s not. What I am trying to do is educate people to the point where Rescues are unnecessary. I once told Ann Brooks at Phoenix Landing that I would absolutely love to see her have to close her doors because there were no more birds that needed to be adopted. She didn’t seem to mind that one bit! I would rather her foundation be strictly education. Ann and others are good at that. I want to see them all out of business due to lack of birds to adopt and have to morph themselves into education centers. I have a dream and I’m sticking to it!
October 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Galileo once said “I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” It doesn’t matter where good information comes from. We shouldn’t be so polarized that those who think differently should sit at opposite ends of the room without speaking to one another. And we shouldn’t admonish those who wish to reach out across the aisle to try to understand and learn from each another.
October 11, 2010 at 8:59 am
Irena, I agree.
I think people need to keep their eye on the ball and remember that it is about the welfare of the birds. First and foremost, it’s about their best interests.
If people keep that in mind, their will be less controversy and less disagreement.
October 11, 2010 at 12:18 am
Thank you for the analogies of relationships, Patricia.
For 30 years, I’ve given of my experiences and first hand knowledge via my website, free public seminars and shows. I’m a retired breeder after 30 wonderful years of breeding on all levels and of many species. I’ve always been totally for the welfare of all birds, never for the money. I’m there eternally after the sale to help with questions from customers. Most breeders operate the same way.
To be treated less than human by holier-than-thou “rescues/sanctuaries” is abominable. We are the ones who have produced the information for the well being of birds and who have exponentially raised the environmental, dietary, and behavioral standards for our charges.
I’m still gathering information for an article that I’m writing about my personal experience with the vitriol of a certain element of the do-gooders. I’m grateful to those who are in tune with the needs of birds and maintain high standards for their non-profit activities.
October 11, 2010 at 6:36 am
Thank you for your comments. As I stated in my post, this web log is about education and information. It’s for stimulating thought, introducing different ideas and perhaps looking at new methods and ways of approaching problems and issues. It’s not about taking a stance for or against anything with the exception of an all-seed diet for birds which everyone pretty much agrees is unhealthy.
I don’t have any other soapbox around here but that. Other blogs and other websites have other purposes and that’s fine. That’s their platform and they can do whatever they want.
But that’s not what I write about here.
I write about everything and anything that the experts, the authorities, the caregivers, writers, Vets, manufacturers or other voices have to offer that is a good idea. I’m not one for getting all hot under the collar about “making” anyone think the way I do. I present thoughts, ideas and concepts. And if I truly believe in something, other people might take something positive away from that discussion here and improve their life and the lives of their birds. I’ve never lost sight of what this blog is about and what its purpose is. But apparently there seemed to be a misunderstanding about that. So I had to clear that up with this post. And I hope I accomplished that. Thank you for your contribution.
October 11, 2010 at 8:40 am
I just wanted to show my support for you and your writing, Patricia.
Learning about the health and well being of the birds in our home already, is more important than where they came from.
My 3 Conures came from breeders, I let them have spray millet in the fall/winter months and I clip their wings when we travel / during the summer months. So alot of people don’t like me either but my birds sure love me, so whatever!
October 11, 2010 at 8:52 am
Thank you Tonya,
I think this needs to be about educating people. If you educate people, the right things will naturally fall into place. People that don’t know how to properly train, house and feed their birds will learn and there will be fewer rescues that need placement. People who were thinking about getting a bird and realize that it isn’t the right fit for their life will refrain from getting one or will acquire one that fits their life and there will be less pressure on the rescues.
Perhaps this is just a hunch, but I don’t think good breeders like the idea of their birds ending up in a rescue either.
October 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm
Patricia, many of us greatly appreciate the bridges you build across many aspects of the parrot community. You are a constant advocate for parrots, there is no doubt. If we all focused and built upon the things we have in common, as you do, together we could weave an ever stronger base for helping parrots. Pushing each other to extremes does not help to solve problems and it is unfortunate that you had this experience.
Ann, Phoenix Landing
October 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm
(For those of you who are not aware, Ann Brooks is the Founder of “Phoenix Landing,” a wildly successful education, adoption and rescue Foundation. *Edit: It is an Education, Adoption, Welfare, Refuge Foundation. One of these days I’ll get it right!*
Ann is also a close colleague and I respect her work immensely.)
I agree completely with you. I don’t know how to change things and go about making everything right all at once. What I do know how to do is educate, inform and help people with birds find solid sources, information, and better ways of taking care of their birds. I like bringing in new ideas and concepts they may never have heard of before to their attention.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s their website to do what they want. I just simply had to highlight the extremes people will go to for their agenda even with an overall goodness at stake. As I said, how far away do I have to be from a breeding website to be considered an advocate of rescues? I guess adopting 7 rescues isn’t enough. Raising money for various foundations isn’t going to do it. But again, it’s their site. They can do what they want. I have no argument there.
Thank you for your kind words Ann. I appreciate your post and thank you for everything you’ve done to place so many homeless birds into wonderful families.
October 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm
The saddest thing is that so many of the most vocal “rescuers” are actually very new to parrots themlseves, and in as much if not more need of accurate informatin than the other bird owners.
“Breeders” in general are not the problem, though I’m incredibly frustrated by how very few of them will stand up and admit that “Wrong is wrong” in some recent seizure cases.
Poor bird care is the problem for me, and I see it with breeders, and pet owners, and all too often, “rescuers.” The really sad thing is it is so much easier today to find good information about birds, but so many people only see or hear what they want to believe, and plunge in anyway.
So…where we you consdiered “too impure” to be allowed to stay?
October 11, 2010 at 2:48 pm
That’s why I’ve always said that education is the key to this issue. As I replied to Tonya,
“If you educate people, the right things will naturally fall into place. People that don’t know how to properly train, house and feed their birds will learn and there will be fewer rescues that need placement. People who were thinking about getting a bird and realize that it isn’t the right fit for their life will refrain from getting one or will acquire one that fits their life and there will be less pressure on the rescues.”
Solving the problem BEFORE it happens is where I want to go with “Parrot Nation.” I advocate better care, safer and better quality housing, better and more balanced nutrition, enrichment and training. And that’s what this blog is about. I simply don’t like being labeled as someone who doesn’t promote rescue and adoption. Because it’s not true.
October 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm
I”ve been trying to do the same on my yahoogroups lists since they were what..egroius? onegourp? Something like that.
Ann is going to get you for saying PL is a”rescue” organization..:)..like me, she seems to want to work away from that term as it’s being used, and abused, by so many these days.
October 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm
Judith, I know! I slipped! I promise I’ll be more careful. Truth is they once did a “relinquishment” of over 100 birds in a day I believe. Ann will forgive me, just as she’s forgiven so many of my other slip-ups!
October 11, 2010 at 3:45 pm
I think most GOOD bird owners believe that education is the key in parrot welfare. Yes, educate and rescues will ideally be unnecessary and out of busines. For what it is worth, Judith has spent countless hours for the years I have known her educating online as a chat and message board host for AOL and then Pethobbyist forums. She was one of the first people I met online and she educated me. Now I try to pass that down as well.
Keep up the good work. It is important and highly needed. Thanks.
October 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm
No, Thank YOU Bonnie!
Judith has made some profound observations about this post and I appreciate her insight. It made me feel better about the statement I felt compelled to make.
October 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm
Patricia, as always you have written a splendid and thoughtful piece. The relationship between breeders and rescues has been a tough thing for me to work through in my simple mind. Years ago I learned that parrots are no longer the rare and expensive pet they were when I was a young boy growing up in the Midwest. With this revelation I soon paid attention to all the unwanted parrots that are “out there”. I also witnessed in person that there are indeed parrot mills. Places of disgust and horror. Then I began to volunteer at a rescue and I started to see abused and neglected birds come through the doors. I got to see the waiting list of birds needing to come to the rescue. I became not only pro adoption but anti breeder. I mean how could someone propagate species of birds that are flooding the rescues? Did they have no heart, no soul? It was they who were raising birds in deplorable conditions, sending them to a life of misery by placing them in the hands of uneducated and ill prepared people. Surely, they have no love for birds. Simply it is nothing more than a desire to turn a fast buck on the back of sweet, innocent life. These people must be monsters! Then I see reports of a pro-breeding organization coming to the defense of a hoarder. The birds that were in their care were in very poor conditions. Obviously, this community cares not for the birds. They obviously fail to appreciate how amazing these creatures are.
THEN… I had an opportunity to see not all breeders are parrot mills, and some even have a love for the birds. It sparked a flurry of thoughts. Can there be responsible breeders? How many breeders are scum versus how many are decent? Why do they breed? Then it occurred to me. Does it matter? What is my goal as a parrot lover? What is it that I truly want to accomplish? Is it not to promote a better life for these creatures? Then it also occurred to me that the goal can not be done living in a vacuum of like minded pro adoption people. Hopefully I can go on in the future to advocate for eliminating poor breeding facilities, improving the care of companion parrots everywhere AND yes even shuttering poor rescues.
I have come to learn there are bad breeders, good breeders, bad rescues and good rescues. What is important is that those of us who care find a way to come together in the interest of what is best for the birds.
Thanks again Patricia. You’re a shining example of a great and gifted bird person!
October 12, 2010 at 7:38 am
P…You and I have had many conversations on this subject and I can safely and admirably say I agree with you. Some of the rescues have attacked me as well…shrug it off…it’s hard but the people that know you and follow you KNOW that you are an adoption advocate.
@Chris::: You and I had a long conversation about rescues vs. breeders at the premiere and I thank you for the comment you stated above. I enjoyed our conversation and I think the both of us learned something from each other that night. I am so proud and honored to have you and Lorry as friends.
@Patricia::: I will follow you until the end of the earth my friend. I have learned and educated myself from this blog for a year and a half now and do not ever intend to quit. You are my best friend and one of my closest colleagues…and for that I am grateful. I would love to know what the name of the rescue is…nothing like a ticked off Italian girl making a comment.
Angels Of Flight Productions
October 22, 2010 at 12:19 am
Information is information, but great information can mean the difference between a living, thriving bird and a dead one. I got Scout, my CAG, through a breeder in Missouri. The first question she asked me was, “Have you ever hand fed an animal before?” My reply? “I’ve hand fed a human baby. And I hand feed myself all the time.” The breeder told me in the beginning, “I don’t care what time of night it is and I don’t care what kind of question you have. You call me if you need ANYTHING.” I don’t recommend necessarily starting with a bird as young as mine was, but if it hadn’t been for my every-other-day phone calls to my breeder and different methods of trying new foods, I have no doubt that Scout wouldn’t be here today. Breeders do have great information too, and not all of them are out to just make a quick buck.
P.S. The breeder actually said, “We really don’t make that much of a living from breeding birds. When you factor in pellets, seed, veggies, fruits, vet visits, cages, etc., you pretty much just about break even.”
October 22, 2010 at 11:56 am
I completely agree, Jenni.
August 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm
I have long though that the controversy and polarization over this subject is a tad ridiculous. The notion that if there were no breeders, everyone would adopt a parrot from a rescue has no feet.
If there were no breeders, sure, a few more birds might get adopted, but much more likely: there would be a lot more black market smuggling of birds in even worse condition over the border, resulting in an ever higher rate of surrenders to rescues. Wild caught birds would replace bred ones, and wild caught birds have a much lower rate of assimilation and long-term placement in a home that cares.
Imagine, the rich lady down the road who thinks a parrot would go lovely with her decor, buys a smuggled wild caught Amazon down at the Mexican border for a hundred bucks. Do you think she will be inclined to get it to a vet for care if it’s sick or in shock? Who will she turn to if the bird starts to show signs of illness? Who can she call to find out what kind of cage she needs or what she should be feeding? Even if she were so inclined, she could go to no one who would have to lay eyes on the bird because she is breaking the law and would be caught.
Responsible breeding helps to alleviate the demand. Many people who buy baby birds for their first one go on to adopt future birds from rescues. But those who don’t care enough to research are not likely to care what the bird endures being wild caught, either. And, the adoption fees that many rescues need to survive strike those who aren’t “rescue material” as “too pricy for a used bird.” I’ve heard that more than I can even count.
Eradicating breeders only makes the gene pool thinner, the options fewer, and the likelihood of smuggling much greater.
There is room for ALL of us: rescue, breeder, pet owner. There is good and bad of all of us, too, and Patricia, you’ve nailed it. It’s all about education.
August 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm
I have 12 parrots, 11 are re-home”ers” so I am a firm believer in the adoption process but my thought has always been this…if we rid the USA of breeders, where will our future children see a real live parrot? In 100 years, they would cease to exist. I know & have spent many years listening to some of the best in the business. I have watched first time bird owners send in notes of praise for many of these breeders who have sat up at night trying to walk a new owner of an un-weaned baby when the real breeder of this baby couldn’t be bothered. Again, education but sadly, too many jump in without doing any homework. People need to get their facts straight before buying a baby from the local backyard breeder down the street because $500 is cheaper for an un-weaned baby then buying a fully weaned & fledged bird from a reputable breeder at a higher price.