Birds Rescue & Saving Money: Who Is Really Profiting?
Through my years of living and working with parrots, I have encountered a large number of what we call "sympathy buys" -- birds bought by warm-hearted people because the person "felt sorry for them". These animals invariably came from pet stores that were less than reputable.
Often they were being kept in cages that were filthy and too small, with nothing to eat but the seed, no toys to play with, no avian medicine despite obvious signs of illness, etc., etc., etc. The list of negatives ranged from benign neglect to active abuse.
I thought it was nice that these well-meaning people tried to help an animal who was trapped in such an unspeakable circumstance. However, I admit it bothered me that most of these people apparently paid full price for the animals.
Now, heaven knows I do not consider myself to be a worldly person – nor does anyone else that knows me. Far from it! But after twenty years of working with people and animals, I like to think I have gotten at least somewhat cynical about some of the people who make a living from selling animals. But a recent conversation with a friend who owns a very good bird shop absolutely staggered me.
I mentioned something about people who buy animals because they feel sorry for them, and she laughed bitterly. She pointed out that the birds in her store were happy, well-fed, and well-adjusted, and this meant that no one felt the need to "rescue" them. On the other hand, the substandard bird farm down the street was doing a brisk business because, as she put it, they capitalize on sympathy.
Since then, I have learned to my dismay that this is true -- unscrupulous stores often choose to encourage 'sympathy buying' by putting animals into situations that will arouse sympathy.
So think about this, if you will. If I spend my money in a pet store that keeps its animals in less-than-ideal circumstances, then I am supporting that store and the manner in which it does business. By putting my money into their hands,
I enable them to continue to treat animals in this way especially if I paid full price to rescue an animal! Paying full price means that the store can immediately replace the purchased bird – no doubt placing it in a substandard situation -- and also make a tidy profit.
In my area, there is a bird store that has an exceptionally bad reputation. As one of my clients described it to me, "If you really care about birds, you will be in tears by the time you leave." But this same retailer is also known to be inexpensive compared to more reputable businesses in the area (you get what you pay for, right?) --- and to my absolute amazement, many of the more knowledgeable aviculturists in my area buy frequently from this store -- because "it's cheaper".living off of birds" (though I can hear my accountant falling on the floor shrieking with laughter with the "making a living" part).
However, I really have to draw the line at saving money by keeping an apparently nauseatingly bad bird store in business. No matter how I may try, I cannot rationalize saving money by patronizing a business that I know provides substandard care for animals that I love. If I need to save money that badly, then I have more birds than I can afford to own.
So what am I trying to say, here? I guess I wish parrot owners would look carefully at where they are spending their bird-related dollars. You who say you love birds -- are you supporting business people that truly love birds, too? Or are they people to whom money is the "bottom line"?
If money comes first, the animals ALWAYS suffer. I am not, by the way, saying that breeders and pet shop owners cannot make a profit -- the better they are, the better I want them to do financially.