Once upon a time, there was a lovely middle-aged woman who lived in Maryland, in the company of 5 Companion Parrots. She was legally blind, but that disability did not interfere with her ability to generate a reasonable income doing something that supported the needs of others with disabilities like her. It also did not interfere with her dedication to or ability to care for the 5 Parrots impeccably, who had been with her for 20 years. And, as is the case with almost everyone who has ever had the opportunity and the privilege to have such amazing creatures as our Companions, these 5 Parrots were more than simple Companions. They were her beloved family.
Then one day a family crisis arose! J’s parents, who had been living in South Carolina with her sister, were compelled to be placed in a continuous care facility for medical reasons, and serious consequences ensued. Their lives were at risk. J made the decision to relocate from Maryland to South Carolina to be close to her family in this crisis.
In her efforts to make the move to South Carolina, J gathered the primary necessities of settling into a new home, including the full-size cages and accessories for the 5 Parrots, and had them shipped ahead of her. Temporarily, the birds remained in Maryland, housed in travel cages in J’s home there under the care of a friend, while J traveled to South Carolina to secure housing and prepare to bring the birds into their new home with everything all set up and awaiting their arrival.
That’s when it happened.
With J in South Carolina, busy with the details of creating a new home there, a complaint was filed back in Maryland with the Prince George’s County Animal Control. In investigating the complaint, PGCAC discovered the birds in what they deemed to be “too small cages”, not having been kept properly cleaned. (Apparently, J’s friend had fulfilled their promise to feed and water the birds properly but had not performed proper cage cleaning while J was gone.) And so, Animal Control seized possession of the 5 Parrots and notified J of their requirements in order to be able to return her birds to her. Initially, at least, she would be required to show proof of permanent residence locally, and proper housing for the birds or they would become “property” of Animal Control and dealt with at their discretion after July 1, and, in any case, would not be allowed to be returned to J under any circumstances after that, at any time.
Enter a multitude of concerned, well-meaning friends wanting to help find a solution leading to a Happy Ending for J and her Parrots. While there are times when friends can and do provide viable solutions to temporary challenges, once a government agency has become involved in a situation, it takes on a whole different tone; one which can and should be dealt with using the assistance of organizations who have experience with the system and people who operate within it.
NOW enter two organizations who have just those qualifications: The Quaker Parrot Society and The American Federation of Aviculturists!
[I want to interject here that it is often one of those concerned friends who will have both the presence of mind and the connection to an organization that can effectively assert its influence to resolve delicate situations, who will step forward, make the necessary connections, and then work to keep the path clear for negotiations to be carried out successfully. And that is precisely what occurred to connect J and the QPS and the AFA! So thanks are justly due to each and every individual who sought to be of any kind of help, including stepping aside to allow for the ultimate success of reuniting J and her birds.]
However the connection was made (J is actually a member of QPS), both organizations stepped forward and began communicating first directly with J and ultimately conversing with PGCAC as well.
Now, HERE is the crux of the matter. When Prince George’s County Animal Control took possession of the 5 Parrots, they were operating inside of A) a very meager knowledge of Companion Parrots and their day-to-day requirements, and B) no understanding whatsoever of the circumstances that generated the conditions for which the complaint was lodged and/or in which the birds were found. Given the lack of information at hand, they acted in what they believed were the best interests of the birds. The invaluable service that QPS and the AFA provided was to help fill in the gaps, and to give a voice to an otherwise distracted-by-critical-family-issues J. The two organizations provided a much-needed understanding of parrot husbandry to Animal Control, as well as help J organize her efforts to complete her task of relocating to South Carolina and demonstrating to Animal Control that she did, indeed, have the proper facilities to care for the birds appropriately.
More specifically this included providing support for J in securing the necessary documentation to demonstrate an established, permanent residence in South Carolina; physically transporting size-appropriate cages and accessories for each of the 5 birds from near Maryland to J’s new location in South Carolina (until she receives delivery of her own that she shipped from Maryland), setting them up, and showing evidence that this had been accomplished so that Animal Control in South Carolina could inspect and approve; and last, but most certainly not least, delivering J WITH her 5 Companion Parrots from Prince George’s County, Maryland to South Carolina … which occurred, safely and successfully at approximately 11:00 pm, Thursday, July 6, 2016. The Prince George’s Five ARE AT HOME!
Obviously, there were “a thousand” little steps in between that had to be taken. And those steps were each meticulously and deliberately taken by individuals committed to assuring J and her beloved Parrots a Happy Ending. We have each had a part in this success with the Quaker Parrot Society and the American Federation of Aviculture, by our hearts, our hopes, and whatever help we could offer that was useful in accomplishing the result. But the bulk of the heavy lifting was done by the Prince George’s County Animal Control, QPS, the AFA, and J herself. And it is to them that we all owe a debt of gratitude for being willing to stand for our relationships with our Companion Parrots, and for being willing to go the distance. They can, and will, do it for each and every one of us, should the need arise. We only need ask, and yield to their wisdom and experience. And then, pay it forward.