Let’s talk about bird people. Okay, let’s be honest, bird women. A huge percentage of bird owners seem to be women, although I don’t have any particular data to back that up, the overwhelming majority of people on bird forums where gender is self-identified do tend to be female. That’s not a good or a bad thing, it just is what it is. Let’s not get into a whole “bird owners are misandrists!” kerfluffle, I’ll leave that to the feminists. Over the years though, I’ve been involved in a huge number of animal forums and they do tend to be mostly women involved.
But that’s neither here nor there, although I think it figures in later. Now let’s look at rescued birds, “rehomed” birds, etc. I’m a big advocate of getting most of your pets from shelters and not from breeders, there are way too many animals that need homes already to be producing more. Come on back when we’ve cleared out the shelters, then I’ll buy your breeder pet. However, while I want to rescue animals that have been abandoned, I also think that I have the right to expect that these animals are not horribly damaged in some way.
However, if you look at a lot of online bird rescues, and I think this applies to a lot of animals, but birds in particular, a huge number are damaged animals. Birds are very intelligent and this unfortunately leads to them being rather easily psychologically damaged. This leads, in many cases, to self-mutilation and feather plucking because they literally have a break down and go crazy. It is possible, with extensive care and attention, to bring a small number of these birds back, but there are a huge number that will never be normal again.
I tend to look at the bird and say, this bird is damaged, it probably can never be fixed, it can never live a natural, normal, happy life, it is screwed up in the head and the most compassionate thing we can probably do is put it down. That’s not how these bird women operate though, the more damaged the bird is, the more the mothering instinct kicks in and they demand that people ought focus almost exclusively on saving the birds that, IMO, shouldn’t be saved. There are so many other birds out there who deserve attention because they are in much better condition, but these birds tend to go unnoticed. The more mutilated a bird is, the less feathers, the more body parts missing, the worse life the bird has had, the more their hearts go out to the bird and their minds go straight out the window.
Yes, it’s sad that so many birds get abused, but they certainly are not abused in numbers approaching dogs or cats or even hamsters. If I go to the animal shelter looking for a dog, I am not going to adopt the mangy blind dog with two legs, no matter how sad it might make me feel. I’m a realist. That dog cannot have a decent quality of life anymore and, like it or not, nothing deserves to live regardless. I’ll adopt an animal that I can have a good reciprocal relationship with, they can make me happy and I can make them happy. The same goes for birds. If I was going to adopt a bird, it would be a bird without known psychological or physical problems. I’m not at all adverse to adopting birds in need either, in fact, I’ve offered to do so in the past, to foster birds for people going through difficulty, but my stance on only accepting well-adjusted, healthy animals makes me somewhat of a pariah among these bird forum women. How dare I not just pour endless time, energy and money into birds that will never get better!
You want to know what else pisses me off? That a huge number of people who are trying desperately to re-home their birds want retail prices or better for them. If I can go down to the corner pet store or bird breeder and buy a bird for $100, say, why would I take your “second-hand” damaged, psychologically messed up bird for $200? Why do you think I ought to pay extra for the damage you caused? Some people just get too emotionally attached to their animals and think that because they had it and can no longer care for it, it ought to be worth more to someone. News flash for you though, it doesn’t. In fact, as much as people hate to hear it, a used bird is not fundamentally different than a used couch. It’s all about condition and value. It will virtually never go for more than the cost of new. In fact, these people ought to be pretty damn thankful that their animal is going to a loving, caring home at all. If you are unable to afford to care for a pet, and I understand it’s a hard decision to make, then the welfare of the pet ought to be your primary concern. Your wallet shouldn’t come into it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be able to sell your pet for a reasonable amount if you want, but it seems for lots of people, even those who are not doing it for financial hardship reasons, that making a buck is the only thing they care about. I think that’s disgusting.
Pets are special, they bring comfort and meaning to our lives, but, like everything else, we have to be rational about them. We have to realize that keeping an animal is a responsibility, but it’s also something that most of us will do many, many, many times in our lives and we cannot focus blindly on one particular pet to the exclusion of all else, especially not our own health, happiness or wellbeing. It’s sad if we get into a situation where we can no longer keep an animal, but it happens. We must take the steps necessary to put that animal into the best possible home, to give them the best possible future, without regard for our own profit. We must also recognize when an animal, for whatever reason, simply is not having the quality of life that it should and understand that there are times when an animal is so damaged, either physically or psychologically, that the best course of action, perhaps the only humane course of action, is to simply put it to sleep. This goes not only for birds but for all animals. We cannot allow our emotions to get in the way of reality. Pets are our responsibility but we have to understand when enough is enough.
That’s what being rational is all about.