Sunday, May 13, 2001
The opinions on this page are my own, and despite the email that I received on Sunday May 13, 2001 describing me as a "coward" for posting my opinions on a web page, I do not feel like a coward at all. My name and email address are here for anyone to comment or contact me, unlike the anonymous emailer who is threatening legal action for defamation. I've gone back and made the portions containing my opinion RED , since clearly that was lost on the reader before. That is sarcasm, in case our anonymous emailer decides to read this again. They even state in their email that :
"Everyone has their opinions and right to the same, but I am forwarding your web site address to a lawyer to discuss the legal ramifications of your defamation of Bill, who has been in business for many years, successfully I might add, and who takes great care of all his animals and birds."
First, the reader clearly recognizes the commentary on this page as my opinion. Therefore, no defamation. Second, I never claimed the store hadn't been in business for years successfully (although I cannot resist sticking in my OPINION here when I say that it's not a requirement for a successful business to meet my PERSONAL STANDARDS FOR ANIMAL CARE :). Third, it is that particular readers OPINION that he takes great care of all his animals and birds, while it is my OPINION that this is not true, seeing that I bought 5 ill animals from one of his pet stores, (vet records here we come) and that I came back to the store with this documentation and was ignored.
Defamation occurs when FALSE statements are made which cause damages. I have the medical records to back up the claims of illness in the birds that I purchased, and any other claims made are stated as my opinion. Giving one's opinion on a situation does not amount to defamation.
On Saturday, August 3rd, 1997 I had occasion to visit the local pet store in New Bern, Bill's Pet Shop. Normally their birds do not appear (in my opinion) to be in very good health, but on this particular occasion, there were several birds that were obviously very ill (in my opinion, again) . Symptoms of an ill bird include wheezing, fluid bubbling from the nose, lethargy, etc.
The first bird that caught my attention was Jo-Jo, an older Yellow Naped Amazon. Jo-Jo lives in a cage which is about 12" x 12", and which contains one cement perch. He hangs continually from the front corner of the cage, speaking to the people who pass by. The employees seem to be of the opinion that the bird is unhandleable, but he is not. When I took him out, I noticed rather severe wheezing, and decided to notify the manager. While I was waiting for the manager, I started looking at their budgies, which are housed about 15 to a cage. I noticed that several were fluffed up and looked ill, and at least 5 were lying on the floor of the cage, with their heads in the dirty corn cob bedding. One other parakeet had a severe mite problem, with the typical crust around his eyes, cere, and beak. (I have the vet records which indicate this)
I spoke to the girl attending to the birds, and told her that several were sick. She offered to remove the budgie with the mites, and in talking to her, I learned that one of the budgies had died about an hour before. I told her that the birds needed to see a vet, and that the over the counter medicine for mites was not going to fix the problem.
When the manager was finally available, my fiance and I told him about the Amazon. He said he had had him out about a week ago and he was fine then. I found that hard to believe , because I had noticed similar wheezing in the same bird about a month ago. He stated that he would take the bird to the vet the next week. As for the budgies, his comment was "sometimes we get a bad batch of budgies". He did not indicate any willingness to treat the budgies, other than to move them out of sight of the public.
He sold us the four sickest budgies as well as the one with the mites for 8 dollars apiece. We took them straight to the vet, who expressed surprise that any of them were still alive. She specifically asked if the owner of the store sold us the sick birds knowingly (I certainly believe that he did..I take his comment about a "bad batch of budgies" to mean that he understood that they were not well, and that this was not an "uncommon" occurrence). After inspecting the birds (the youngest appearing to be about 7 weeks and the oldest about 8 months), she stated that they all had respiratory infections and were severely underweight (weight ranged from 22 grams to 28 grams). They are now being syringe fed and treated with antibiotics; the budgie with mites was gived oral Ivermectin. Two appear to be doing better, but the other three are still not doing well.
If you or anyone you know live in the vicinity of New Bern, North Carolina, please don't support Bill's Pet Shop (They have another branch in Havelock, NC). The birds are not the only animals kept in substandard conditions (my opinion, considering my definition of substandard conditions: dirty water in the cages, dirty bedding, puffed up and wheezing birds) . Under normal circumstances I would not buy from such a store, but this situation needed immediate attention.
Other birds there still appear to need medical attention (meaning, if they were my birds, they would be going to the vet ASAP) , other than Jo-Jo, there is an Eclectus that appears to be in very bad health, a plucked lutino ringneck, and a blue-mutation ringneck that seemed to me to be sleeping all of the time. On another occasion, I noticed a meyers parrot that seemed very, very ill. I mentioned it, but when I returned a few days later, they stated that he had been sold. Several other parakeets are still sick (in the same condition that the birds I bought were in). If you visit this store and feel that the animals are being mistreated, please contact the local humane society.
Update: August 19, 1997
On August 15, 1997, I took the birds to my regular veterinarian, who made a tentative diagnosis of psittacosis, among other things. These two are being treated with injectible doxycycline for a month, and nystatin twice a day for a month. The smallest, Baby, is being handfed 3 times a day, as she had not gained any weight. Baby and Teal are living in a brooder on a heating pad, and appear to be doing somewhat better. Sky, Mud, and Lemon, are living in their new (BIG!) cage and seem to be enjoying themselves. Hopefully everyone will make a complete recovery. They may also have been infected with polyoma, but are not currently showing signs. If they were infected, they will shed the virus throughout their lives. I am currently making plans to vaccinate the rest of my birds (5 pet birds) against polyoma.
I have contacted the local health department, although they do not seem to have any idea what to do with this. Since I did not have definitive test results (CDC) on the psittacosis, animal control indicated that in essence, nothing could be done. Psittacosis is transmissible to humans, however, without confirmation, they seem unwilling to even investigate. Furthermore, there is no regulatory agency in NC that is willing to get involved with mistreatment of birds. Had this been an incident with a dog or cat, the Department of Agriculture veterinarian could be involved. Unfortunately, it seems that nothing will be done as far as this pet store goes.
Update: October 2, 1997
One week ago today, the world lost two very small, very
sweet budgies. They were named Baby and Teal. They came from a pet store
that was leaving them to die, on August 2. They were emaciated, and had
viral and fungal infections. After receiving countless injections, hand-feedings,
and oral medication, they finally had become so sick that it was time to
let them go.
Even though they were sick, they were the most beautiful birds. Baby was a light blue color, with a very calm and accepting attitude towards his daily medications. When he first came home, he was so young that he shouldn’t have been away from his parents yet. He was always puffed up, and had a little bald patch on his head where the birds in the store had picked on him. His beak was so severely overgrown that it had to be trimmed once a week. At his healthiest, he weighed 27 grams, at his sickest, 20. Teal was a bright aquamarine color, and for a while seemed to do well, although not as well as the other budgies (Mud, Sky, and Lemon) that came home with us that day. For that reason he was kept in our "incubator" with Baby.
The makeshift incubator was a Tupperware container with holes drilled in the sides for ventilation, and to secure their two wooden perches. They rarely used them, preferring to sit together on the bottom, close to the heating pad. Some days they were to sick to lift their heads. On others they would run around the container until they were exhausted. Baby loved to get on the wooden perch and then fall over frontwards, making circles around the perch. Teal would just "run the fence," bouncing along the front of the container, searching for a way to get out and over to the other budgies. On these days I thought that they would get better.
Then they just started to lose weight. In two days, they were thinner than they were when I brought them home. Plans were made to bring them by the veterinarian that Thursday, as my fiancé were relocating that day, and the veterinarian was 3 hours away, and on our route to our new home. For three days I hoped against all hope for a miracle, that they would suddenly get better, although I knew they would not. Each morning I would wake up and pray that they were still alive, and they always were. I felt like an executioner—and I just wanted to give them every last chance.
That Thursday arrived, and all of the birds were packed up (5 of my other birds in my car, and the 5 budgies in my fiancé’s). As we got closer and closer to the vet, all I could keep hoping was that he would say that they might get better. However, that was not the case. He left the room to prepare, and it was time to say goodbye. Baby was very tired, and just sat in my hand looking around like he just wasn’t sure what was going on. Teal was quite energetic, and was less interested in being held. The vet came back in, and then Baby was gone. He went very quietly and quickly, as he was very weak. While Baby was being put to sleep, I was watching Teal, who was preening, and he gave a little tail shake. I asked the doctor if we should wait for the necropsy results on Baby before we put Teal to sleep. I knew it wasn’t fair to let him suffer, but if there was any chance I wanted to give it to him. The vet reminded me that Teal was suffering, and I decided it was time to let go. As the doctor gave Teal the injection, he struggled just a small bit, and flipped one wing. I will remember that one small motion for the rest of my life. And then they were both gone.
The preliminary results on the necropsies came back today. Although we had suspected PDD, nothing conclusive has shown up as of yet. All of their internal organs were shrunken and deformed. The only comfort was that they no longer had to suffer. They were sweet and innocent and they died because of people’s ignorance. The pet store that they came from was kept appraised of the situation as it unfolded. It will suffice to say that they were less than interested.
This ordeal has been one of the hardest times of my life. I had done a few rescues before, and I guess I thought I was invincible, and that I could make anything better if I just loved it enough. I’ve learned the hard way that that’s not true.
Please don’t support pet stores that abuse their animals. I went into that store that day knowing that their treatment of the birds was sub-standard (in my opinion) , and I planned to make a purchase, although it wasn’t the one that I ended up with. I will never again give even one cent to a store that doesn’t treat their animals with the respect that they deserve. That four dollar purchase that you think means nothing, is enough for that store to buy one more sweet little parakeet that deserves a better life. Please think twice before you condemn that animal or any other.
Thank you for your time,