Global Rescue Effort

fb_img_1463264466384.jpgWe have had a very interesting weekend at Jimmy Js! A very good friend who lives in Florida and owns a beautiful Catalina Macaw Emotional Support Animal named Yoshi. Peggy had to go to California for surgery and as always Yoshi went with her. Yoshi was to stay with a friend while Peggy was in Ambulatory Surgery. However, before Peggy even went into the OR, Yoshi had escaped from her sitter and was chased away over Costa Mesa by a gang of crows. Immediately the call to action went out on Face Book and friends from all over the world mobilized to find Yoshi and bring her back safely. Needless to say, in pain and recovering from her surgery, Peggy was frantic with worry and being a stranger to the area didn’t know where to start in her search efforts. Jimmy Js (Jennifer and April) sat down and got to work! We made Craigslist posts on the Orange County Craigslist, called the local animal control office, police, animal shelters and hospitals giving Yoshi’s picture by e mail. April contacted over 35 Avian rescues in the vicinity and they in turn posted on their pages. Yoshi was sighted before night fall, but couldn’t come down from the tree she was in. After a sleepless night in which Peggy was taken by ambulance back to the ER, morning came and Yoshi was spotted in The Upper Newport Harbor Preserve; once again treed by harassing crows. Exhausted and dehydrated Peggy tried to coax her to the ground. Meanwhile, we contacted Purple Crane Service in Costa Mesa for a Bucket truck. They were ready and eager to help and were put in contact with Peggy. Within the hour Yoshi and Peggy were reunited! We love happy endings and are thrilled and honored to have been able to help bring Yoshi back to her mother. It never ceases to amaze me, the power of the Face Book community to mobilize people to action!

Jimmy Js would like to acknowledge and thank:
Costa Mesa Animal Control Office
Costa Mesa Municipal Police Department
Costa Mesa Animal Rescue
Costa Mesa Animal Hospital
Newport Mesa Animal Hospital
All Creatures Care Cottage
Newport Harbor Animal Hospital
Mesa West Animal Hospital
Dover Shores Pet Care Center
Orange County Humane Society
Purple Crane Services
Over 35 local Avian Rescues and clubs

The Ties That Bind

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Recently we had some orphans flown to us from Florida. All under 8 weeks and still being hand fed; there was an Indian Ring Neck, a Redrump Parakeet and 2 Plumhead Parakeets. Ok, so I am not an expert at hand feeding babies. I have lots of support and a partner that is master level hand feeder. “I can do this!” So we drive to LeGuardia to pick up said babies and begin our adventure. They were so small it seemed there was no way the syringe would fit in
their mouths! Yet every 4 hours like clock work they would extend their necks to the sky and call out to be fed. We were in a routine, after an initial brush with aspiration, and they slowly dropped down from 5 to 4 to 3 feedings a day.

After 3 weeks they began to fly around our room very adroitly. They even came along to a Daisy meeting with the big birds! I felt the day coming where they would reject the syringe for the cup of millet and leave “momma” for the bigger flock. Until….Friday afternoon last week. It was like any other day. After the afternoon feeding I put them in their big boy cage and shut the door to my room and left to pick my daughter up from school. However, I had no idea the drama that would ensue once I returned home.

My beagle was standing on the stairs between me and the bedroom looking very guilty. I looked closer and in her mouth was my baby redrump! “Drop it!” I screamed. Immediately she spit out a very unhappy and tail-less redrump, whose rump was now red from lack of feathers! I scooped her up and headed for the bedroom. My heart sank when I saw the door wide open! There in the middle of the floor was a plumhead missing all its back feathers and the third was nowhere to be seen. Images of a bloody pile of feathers somewhere in my room bombarded my brain.

Before I could stop myself a primal scream poured from my throat and I totally lost my mind! Searching the room my anxiety and hysteria grew by the second. My husband, who had entered the scene in the midst of my confused search, tried to break into my funk by offering these innocent words, “take it easy, you’ve only had them a few days…” I glared in his direction. “Shut the f*ck up!” I spewed with venom at him. He found the third hiding under my dresser untouched and I called the vet. Through tears I pleaded that they take me right now, “please tell me Dr Tracey is on” (our avian vet.) “Come right in!”

Not until Dr Tracey walked into the exam room did my chest relax enough to inhale fully. Everything would be alright now. Wounds cleaned, fluids on board, antibiotics administered and 3 hours in the oxygen tank and they were home again. Bruised and featherless, but otherwise none the worse for wear. I put their cage next to my pillow and woke every hour to make sure they were still alright. In the light of day after my morning coffee I pondered all the what ifs. The dog ambled in stopped at the door and looked up with big brown eyes; the babies saw her and nothing changed in the demeanor. Odd, wouldn’t they be traumatized enough to be scared stiff by her presence? “OUT” I screamed and she skulked out. I put the babies away and started looking on the floor for more clues. Under some newspaper I found feathers, unfrayed or broken. Closer inspection revealed some formula still on some. The stark realization came to me that the dog wasn’t trying to KILL the babies. She was cleaning them! Of course, no blood, no puncture wounds, no apparent trauma; just missing feathers. I laughed silently to myself.

Well a few days have passed and we found a new home for the beagle with no small animals and a couple of kids to play the energy out of her. The babies don’t seem changed in any way by their experience. So I had a moment of reflection. Why did I get so hysterical? I am always the rock in a crisis. Even where my kids were concerned, I handled emergencies with aplomb. Well my kids are grown and these birds are my children, but with more responsibility. They will always need me to protect them. They will always depend on me for food, shelter, medical care and affection. They are helpless in this world and I should have been more careful. I let them down. My level of attachment had become embedded in me in the short time we had to bond. This is how hoarding starts.

We all need to take time to reflect on our motivations for being in the rescue business. How long will a perfectly adoptable bird wait to be placed because of your perception that it isn’t ready, needs special consideration, needs time to transition or gave you a special look that tells you he needs more time to adjust? We have very little control over our levels of attachment. insidiously we succumb to our own delusions of grandeur. The saviour of the universe. Everyone else has duplicitous motives or are some how not good enough for our babies. It is the nature of the beast, we aren’t unfeeling robots, we have evolved to form attachments to our young because they depend on us much longer than other animals’ young. We also evolved empathy that allows us to attach to unrelated beings who need help due to illness, injury or old age. It is in our nature to NEED to help the helpless.

These feelings are not bad by themselves. Without them civilization would not have been possible. For those of us who dedicate our lives to the abandoned, abused and less fortunate, of ANY species; these feelings are particularly strong. Forewarned is forearmed. Knowing we are susceptible to over attachment can steal us to the reality of severing those ties when necessary. Altruism in moderation can be a driving force for the better in this scary world, but altruism taken to excess can lead to a compulsive need to collect the needy and down trodden until we can no longer function. It is a fine line we walk.

When I say Jump, the Obstacles We PlaceBefore Potential Adopters

The science of adoption.

Flexible, Websters Dictionary defines it as, capable of bending easily without breaking, able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions. ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances. synonym, accommodating, amenable, co-operative.

As facilitators of adoptions for our feathered friends, this concept is very important to getting an adoptable bird out of the shelter and into a home. Time is an over arching pressure we face in the rescue business. Time equals money spent, feeding, housing and vetting residents. Time spent caring for many residents equals less quality, individual time for each. Time spent out of the family environment equals harder adjustment periods for those adopted. The time and effort it takes to navigate the process of adoption equals discouraged applicants who drop out from frustration. In short, Flexibility and time should be what drives our application process. They should be.

The bird world seems to have an exaggerated sense of protection for its charges. We understand that these creatures are sentient beings with cognitive abilities akin to a human toddler. This makes anxiety over the perfect placement run deep. Many of us stay awake nights pondering worst case scenarios that doom potential adoptions to failure or worse cause harm or death to the bird. In “the best of all possible worlds,”  every applicant would be retired, but young; people with unlimited wealth, preternatural sympathetic instincts and an undying devotion to their pets that supersedes even their own needs. In short, everything we are, or wish we could be. If only we could clone ourselves so every shelter bird could have what would surely be the best of all possible homes! 

Unfortunately life plays us fast and loose. The best laid plans can fall apart due to the smallest of unforeseen circumstances; and often do. When we place extraordinary demands on potential adopters, we do so with the best of intentions. “Surely, anyone willing to go through this must be the right person for my bird?” Well, recent studies done by the ASPCA and the National Humane Society, in conjunction with shelters and rescues across the country are giving very surprising results. Animals adopted at high volume events at considerably lower adoption fees have a 17% better success rates of remaining in their new homes passed 12 months. Wait, what? That’s right. Long application processes and high fees DO NOT translate to higher rates of success! Affection and devotion aren’t proportional to the process or money amount.

“Minimizing length of stay (LOS) is critical for the minimum care and well-being of animals in the shelter environment.”1.

It is safe to say that the amount of time spent in our shelters by a bird is inversely proportional to the time it takes to complete the application and approval process. Conversely, the amount of time spent in our shelters by a bird is directly proportional to our flexibility within that process. We become rigid by placing labels on people, responsible vs irresponsible and birds, sensitive vs sociable, etc. We pigeon-hole individuals through the prism of the collective and in the process lose out on many potential adopters who don’t meet our arbitrary standards. Kenny Lamberti, director of strategic engagement for The HSUS, wrote an enlightening blog post in which he points out our glaring mistake in depending on these labels to ensure success:

“We spend an inordinate amount of time creating guidelines for what makes an individual a worthy pet adopter, what qualifies someone….These guidelines are typically decided arbitrarily and vary depending on who creates them, and after all that time and energy creating rules, the system remains flawed. The best example of this may be the process we force people to go through in order to adopt a pet… We ask this long list of questions to a potential adopter, who by making the choice to adopt in the first place may have already given us all the information we need. Maybe the “responsible” thing for those of us in the animal welfare field to do is to think twice before imposing our personal opinions on the general public. What if we focused more of our energy on providing information and resources to them so they can provide the quality of life for their pet they wanted to all along? We might not get as much credit for being heroes, but significantly fewer animals might need “saving.”  I challenge us all as professionals, advocates and volunteers to spend significantly more time examining our own policies, words and behaviors for fairness, clarity and helpfulness, and a lot less on determining whether or not pet owners are ‘responsible.’ “
‘Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.’  George Bernard Shaw
Until then, what do you think our true responsibility is as animal advocates? What does a “responsible pet owner” really look like, and who gets to decide?(2)

Jennifer
Jennifer

In conclusion, I want to clarify that; 1. I firmly believe those of us who set their adoption process up to avoid getting the “wrong” type of person, have the very best of intentions. They are not evil, they simply want what’s best for their birds. This desire in type A, highly driven; sometimes obsessive/compulsive, perfectionists can translate to a rather draconian style that may put off some very good potential adopters. However, it still originates with an ardent desire to see a bird achieve happiness and stability, to never suffer uncertainty, abuse, neglect or disease.  2. There still needs to be a process. We can’t just hand our birds over to anyone who walks through our door. It’s a fine line between efficacy and expedience that we must tread every day; and it is the life we have chosen.

(1.) Evaluation of a Novel Dog Adoption Program in Two US Communities;

Heather Mohan-Gibbons, Emily Weiss, […], and Meg Allison

1.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963870/

(2.) What Does “Responsible” Pet Ownership Really Look Like?;
Kenny Lamberti, director of strategic engagement for The HSUS, reflects on what it really means to be a responsible pet owner and who gets to decide.: http://www.animalsheltering.org/blog/what-does-“responsible”-pet-ownership-really-lookMarch 8, 2016

Anatomy of a Saint

What makes a saint? In this hard edged, jaded world we occupy; would you recognize one? Close your eyes and conjure up an image of what he/she would look like. What would they sound like, smell like? Like most, you probably envision a clean cut, glowing, soft spoken, angelic apperition. Someone so humble and free of the weight of this plane that their steps hover just above the ground. Everyone knows saints don’t curse, have tattoos or piercings, right?
I want to introduce you to a true saint; although I am sure he would cringe at the idea. Slight in stature and unassuming in nature; this saint rolls with the sinners. He is at home with people who play in bands named, Recycled Zombies, Dirty Martini, and Wreckless Marcy to name just a few. This man works tireless all year long arranging and promoting concerts that solely benefits local animal shelters. He prints raffle tickets, collects prizes from his many connections in the music world; this year included a Bret Michaels autographed guitar, books the bands, finds the venue, prints shirts and goes on local media to promote the events. These events are know throughout Broome County as Shelter Slam and the saint of whom I speak is John Dalola. And in case you need anymore proof of his kind hearted nature, ALL proceeds go to the sponsored shelters! I can tell you Jimmy Js Avian Rescue Center would not be able to operate without John’s efforts. For that we are eternally grateful. So the next time your path crosses that of a grizzled, leather clad, sunglasses at night, tattooed, slightly devilish looking man; reserve judgement. He probably has done more to help the helpless then any churched saint.  Bless you brother!

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                John Dalola