What rescue really means

Rescue inside the work of advocacy is not necessarily surrender. It's time to define "rescue" vs "rehome".

What rescue really means

I'd like to tell a story of our "rescue" birds vs our average companion parrot intake. Frequently we have people who come into the center with the perception that all of our birds are "rescues". They think because the birds are in our care that they must have had an awful life and must be broken in some way. They see the plucked birds and assume they pluck because they were mistreated or abused. These perceptions could not be further from the truth! Wikipedia defines rescue as, to "save (someone) from a dangerous or distressing situation". The large majority of our birds do NOT fit this definition. Most of our residents come to us from homes that have faced financial issues, a death in the family, an aging human who can longer physically care for their companion or a health crisis within the family. Yes, we get many birds from people who did not do their homework and therefore had no idea what they were getting into. They acquire that sweet bird with a set of misconceptions that end in the bird being placed with us. Sadly, we also get the birds whose humans view them as a piece of property that is no longer convenient to "own". However, none of these situations meet the definition of "rescue", nor do we see these birds as rescues, they are simply in need of a soft place to land in their life journey. It is an inevitable fact that most companion parrots will have multiple homes. Not everyone has the means to place their companion in its next home. It really is not our place to judge the human for their choice. We are there for the birds. We choose to look at their future and not their past, in most instances, and this is why you do not see sad stories on our page or website very often.

Cracker is one of our true rescues. She was brought in to be boarded. When she arrived her nails were overgrown and she had a tremendous hole in her chest running all the way down to where her leg attaches to her body. There was a walnut size area of scar tissue as well. The skin edges were necrotic and black. Her feathers were filthy and she she reeked of cigarette smoke. We also discovered that she had been treated for mutilation two years ago, but no follow-up occurred, so she has had this wound for two years. We took her straight to the vet that day. She was given injections of antibiotic and vitamins and was sent home with five more days of injectable antibiotics and pain medicine.

Cracker was scheduled for surgery on Monday. On Friday before surgery, we contacted Animal Control regarding Cracker's condition and gave written statements. The case has been turned over to the Prosecutor’s Office and we are waiting to see if charges will be filed. Animal Control felt there was a 95% chance of prosecution. The prosecutor will also decide if misdemeanor or felony charges will follow. Cracker has since had her sutures removed and remains in a collar for the time being. She is now a typical rambunctious and loud Moluccan Cockatoo. Fortunately, her spirit has returned and she is a loving bird who sucks up all the attention she can get. Cracker is a true rescue!

The bird community has become so loose with the use of the word “rescue” that it is hard to determine sometimes whether a bird is a rescue or a re-home. Inappropriate use of the word desensitizes people over time and it puts out the perception that rescue birds are broken. For the sake of the birds, we need to use the appropriate language. It may seem like something so small that it doesn’t matter, but it truly does! We have over 100 birds who are with us to be re-homed while we have five that were true rescues.

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