It’s so hard to believe we are publishing our last newsletter of the year. Along with the last newsletter also comes our yearly fundraising campaign. Last year’s campaign failed to reach our budgeted need for $20,000. We raised slightly over $10,000, which for an organization of our size is nothing to be ashamed of. This year our budget has only increased by 25%, due primarily to the rising costs of veterinary care and housing needs of our foster flock. This year, we are looking at a budget of $30,000, which goes 90% to the care and needs of our foster flock, and 10% to our educational work. This year, we may just make it, as we have an anonymous donor who is willing to match dollar for dollar up to $20,000. This is a first for PEAC, and is absolutely amazing. So with that being said, once you receive our fundraising emails, postcards, and calls, please give generously, so that in 2017 we may continue to grow our organization in its goals of educating people in all things parrot related and providing a safe haven for birds who are in our foster flock and in need of finding a home.
To update you on our educational work, we are still setting up an informational booth at the Temecula Petco every third Sunday of the month. We are starting to fill out the application to Petsmart so that we may set up at various stores one Sunday a month. After the holidays, we will start a new program on the last Sunday of the month, a discussion at the Department of Animal Services Conference Room on Gaines Street, on a variety of topics related to parrots, both companion parrots and those living in the wild.
Just two weeks ago, we started working with our military on pet therapy sessions with the larger parrots under our care in Jamul. This is a very exciting program as we endeavor to help those in our community and at the same time get some good socialization for our foster parrots, especially those who have not had much handling in their lives prior to entering the PEAC foster flock. Due to privacy issues with this outreach program, including the HIPAA laws, we are not able to identify those participating in the project, but we definitely are able to give you updates on how the people and parrots are benefitting from it.
PEAC is always there for the parrots in our area, but we also feel strongly about participating with those people who make up our beautiful community. Being a military town, we felt it was a positive thing for the military personnel and the parrots to join ranks.
The last item I want to update you on is our greenwing macaw, Blaze, who came to PEAC in terrible condition and poor health. We found her in a 36”x36” cage with no room to move around. Due to weak muscles and bones as a result of having a blood calcium level of 30% below normal, and weighing only 845 grams, she ended up fracturing her wing and needing surgery to re-set it with a pin placed to stabilize the bones while they healed. She is having the pin removed in one week, and is now weighing in at 1031 grams and looks amazing! Her feather and skin color are healthy and brilliant and her sweet personality is coming out more and more every day. She has a long way to go before she is strong enough to leave her 24x48x24 acrylic cage that was generously donated to PEAC by San Diego Plastics, Inc., and move into a normal parrot cage and be safe to climb about and play in one of the outside aviaries. We already have someone interested in potentially adopting her, and we are hoping that this may be her forever home.
So in closing, I just want to encourage you all to reach out to your co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to donate to PEAC during this year’s fundraising campaign. Globalgiving now allows you to donate via texting on your phone. It's an easy way to give a $10 donation. Just Text GIVE 15372 to 80-100 to donate $10 to Save Companion Parrots through Rescue & Education. It’s simple and easy! So let’s together make a difference in the lives of our companion parrots by doing our part in raising this year’s goal. I know it’s possible, as I know how dedicated our volunteers and members are. PEAC, for 20 years, has gained an outstanding reputation, not only here in Southern California, but throughout the state as well as the country.
I want to thank all of you in advance for your generosity and hard work in reaching our goal. I wish all of you a wonderful upcoming holiday season, and I look forward to reporting to you the results of this year’s fundraising campaign.
Recently, PEAC was involved in one of the most serious cases of neglect of a large parrot we have ever seen. Blaze is a 20-year-old greenwing macaw who was being cared for by her owner’s 80-year-old mother at the time PEAC was notified of the case. On August 23, a call was received from a social worker at the Scripps Encinitas Hospital, just outside of San Diego. The social worker notified PEAC that a patient of theirs, who owned a greenwing macaw, was not going to make it through the night. The macaw needed to be taken into a rescue, as the family was not able to continue caring for it. At first, PEAC was not overly alarmed, as about 30% of all the parrots that come into the foster program are from owners who have passed away; and their families, who do not want the birds, relinquish them to PEAC so that a new home may be found.
The director, Eric Kern, and a volunteer, Carrie Mix, arrived at the home to find a parrot in very poor care. Her cage was only 36" square, not even large enough for her tail to hang down, and definitely not enough room to move around to properly groom herself. She had sores on her wings from rubbing on the bars of the cage, and she was covered in feces, not only on her tail but on her wings, back, and chest. The cage had not been cleaned in a very long time, and had droppings 10” deep in the bottom tray which came up over the grate. Her tail was resting on this pile of droppings, as she could only relieve herself in one spot, since she could not move around due to the size of the cage. The room Blaze was kept in was full of fruit flies and other insects drawn by the deplorable conditions of not only the room, but the entire residence.
Blaze appeared to have not been handled very often, and when we opened her cage door she showed fear behavior and had to be wrapped in a towel for restraint so that she could be safely placed in a carrier for the ride back to our facility in Jamul. We were not aware of how poor her condition was, and because she was covered in feces, she was placed on a stand in a shower room. Once Blaze saw the water come on, she became very animated and began to call and talk and act like a bird that finally felt the comfort of water on her dirty feathers, and she danced back and forth on the perch. As accidents do happen, even with skilled handlers, Blaze lost her balance and fell off the perch. For a parrot with strong bones and good health the fall would have been a minor mishap, and the bird would have promptly gotten back on the perch to continue its shower. This was not to be the case with Blaze.
Due to weak bones and poor muscle tone, she shattered both bones in her left wing, and was rushed to one of our avian vets for an emergency evaluation. X-rays where performed, and it was obvious that she would require orthopedic surgery to place a pin in one of the bones. It was hoped that this would stabilize the other bone, which had a couple of smaller fragments that had sheared off. The x-rays also showed evidence of an old fracture to the femur in one of her legs. It had obviously never been treated by a vet, and had healed on its own without being set, which caused that leg to have a permanent slight bow in it and carries the risk of arthritis developing as she gets older. Surgery was performed on her wing the following day, and she did amazingly well. The pin pulled the one bone together and allowed it to act as a splint for the other bone, which aligned well; and the fragmented pieces fell back into place. Blaze stayed in the hospital for a couple of days while PEAC worked hard to secure a company that could provide a 24"x48"x24" acrylic box for her to call home for the next six weeks while the fractured wing healed.
PEAC is so grateful to San Diego Plastics, which in just two days fabricated the box and donated it to us. It would have cost around $2000-$3000 for the grade and thickness of Plexiglass we needed to use. We will be publishing their logo and contact information in our upcoming newsletter, and will be placing them on our website, which is once again under construction. The initial cost for veterinary services for the emergency evaluation, surgery, and three nights in the hospital cost PEAC around $2000. Blaze has already had one recheck visit, which included blood work again to check for infection, a change of dressing on the surgical site, and a prescription for antibiotics, which cost around $300. She will have several more rechecks and dressing changes before the healing is complete.
Blood work on the first recheck showed a very elevated white blood cell count, which could be caused by the fracture but could also indicate infection, so we are continuing the injections of antibiotics for two more weeks. When things are all said and done, Blaze’s medical care will cost PEAC around $5000. This unexpected emergency comes just a few months before our year-end fundraising campaign. Life is always unpredictable, which we discuss in our adoption class when we address making arrangements for your parrot in the event of your death. PEAC already was operating on a shortfall of $10,000 for the 2016 yearly budget. We rely solely on donations from caring people like you, who give so generously during the year and always come through when we ask for our year-end campaign; that is when we collect 90% of the next year’s operating budget.
PEAC is celebrating its 20th year of educating people on topics that relate to parrot ownership, in addition to finding forever homes for parrots that make up our foster flock. Blaze, like many of our foster birds, will have a long rehabilitation process before she is ready to go to her forever home. She will be one of the first birds used in our latest outreach project, which involves active-duty service personnel. On Sept 15, four active-duty service members will begin coming twice a week to our facility in Jamul, to work with and interact with the parrots that are in various stages of being rehabilitated. These individuals are struggling with mental illnesses such as PTSD. Many of the birds that come into our foster program also suffer similar emotional issues, and these are addressed and worked on during the rehabilitation process. San Diego is a military town, and this is one way our organization can give back to the community which we call home.
We will conclude this report by just once again asking you to consider making a donation to PEAC to help cover Blaze’s vet expenses, as well as new cages that some of our foster birds desperately need, educational expenses, and our daily operating expenses that we struggle with due to the shortfall on our fundraising for this year’s operating budget. Thank you in advance for your generosity, not only with your financial gifts, but also for the time you give by reading and keeping up with our work, and for the hours of volunteering many of you give each year.
Eric Kern, Director
Note: Some of the pictures of Blaze are hard to view, so please be aware before viewing.
It has been a busy time for PEAC. Over the first and second quarters, we have taken a record number of phone calls and emails. As of June 2016, PEAC has been in operation for 20 years providing education to current and potential parrot owners and refuge for parrots in need of a new home. We have many things in the works in an effort to keep PEAC moving forward.
First I would like to update you on our foster program and intake process for parrots looking to enter PEAC and find a new home. Despite our excellent success in finding homes that are qualified to adopt, the number of requests to relinquish a parrot far outnumber the parrots we are able to rehome. Due to the significant number of requests to place a parrot in our foster program, we are looking to implement a fairly detailed evaluation process. This will assist in determining if the parrot is best suited for a foster program like PEAC offers or a sanctuary is a better solution. The difference we feel between fostering and sanctuary is that fostering is for a short period of time (we try very hard not to have a bird with us longer than 18-24 months) and sanctuary is for a parrot’s natural life. At our next advisory committee meeting we hope to iron out a document to assist us in our evaluation of each parrot. Along with developing a useful document to use, we will also be asking for volunteers to help us with this new approach. We really feel that though we have a 'bird donation questionnaire" that an owner is required to fill out; it is hard to really get a good idea of the bird’s personality. All of what I have written previously came about as we had two parrots in our foster program that had serious behavioral concerns. Through your generous donations we where able to find a sanctuary to take them in, giving them a new lease on life.
Veterinary costs continue to rise and currently we are spending between $300-400 for every parrot we take in. We have already implemented a request that people who we agree to assist by allowing their parrot to enter the PEAC foster program give a minimum $200 donation. If for any reason the person cannot give the $200 they are given an option of submitting a letter to the advisory committee explaining the situation and asking if the donation may be lowered or waived completely.
EDUCATION has always been the focus and main objective of PEAC. Your donations assist us greatly in providing educational coloring books for children 12 and under. This year once again we participated in the Pirate Days at the San Diego Maritime Museum. The children do a treasure hunt and we, along with the birds and the coloring book, are the surprise at the end. By educating the younger generations, we hope to get the message out about companion parrots, along with both the positive and the challenging aspects of caring for one.
This month of August the advisory committee will be getting together to discuss updating our website to have an electronic membership application that can be filled out on our page and then sent directly back to us versus having to print it, fill it out, and then "snail" mail it to PEAC. We are striving to be more user friendly. This change will also allow current members to renew their memberships on line, we hope, after we send them an email saying that their membership is due. As you can tell, the advisory committee will have quite the agenda this month which once we have finished organizing the agenda we will post a copy of it on our website. Then following the meeting we will have updates to each item, again posting it on our website. We are also working hard at ways in which to allow volunteers and members alike to be an active part of PEAC.
We have a new member who has taken over all our social media (Facebook and twitter). She is doing an amazing job and the traffic to our Facebook page continues to increase significantly. It is so nice to get the "ding" on my phone that there is a new Facebook “like” on our page.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions on our future plans to celebrate our 20th anniversary, as well as other ways outside of financially giving that you can help PEAC.
It is hard to believe that we are about to finish the first quarter of 2016. Lots of great things are planned for this spring and early summer. We have yearly events like the Turquoise Animal Hospital Exotic Pet Expo, Pirate Days at the Maritime Museum, and the largest event we participate in every year, the America’s Family Pet Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Anaheim, CA. All these events give PEAC a chance to spread its message of providing access to the latest up-to-date information on parrot care, both physical and psychological. I am happy to see so many of our volunteers step forward to help organize and run these fantastic events. PEAC only continues to exist because of its volunteers, members, and generous donors.
I am happy to mention we have had four adoptions so far this year. Two Amazons, Sunny and Hermione, came to us after their owner’s age made caring for them no longer possible. This owner’s son contacted PEAC and Barb Crouse and myself met the parrots and the son and determined PEAC was able to add them to our foster flock. Fortunately, in a short time, a couple with several years of parrot experience contacted PEAC and was interested in both of them. Though PEAC normally does not adopt out more than one parrot every 18 months to a new owner, it was the prior owner’s wish that if possible that they remain together. It was wonderful to find a good home for both of them and to be able to adopte them together as was the request of the prior owner. Asha, a Scarlet Macaw who was with us since being a year old and now is going on 3, finally found his match with a couple in Arizona. The gentleman volunteers at his local zoo and has several other exotic companion pets. His experience with large parrots showed that he understood and uses positive reinforcement training with the birds he cares for at the zoo and in his neighborhood. It was such a good feeling knowing that Asha would be in good hands, as, if he lives up to his species he will be a bit of a challenge to say the least. Last but not least was Lola, a blue and gold macaw. Not only myself, but those who serve on the adoption committee, wish these parrots and their new caregivers the best, and as we promise for all parrots that are adopted from PEAC, we will remain available to help with any questions or problems their caregivers may end up facing. Again, this goes back to PEAC’s first and most important mission, education.
Over the coarse of the last 2+ years as the director, I have worked to expand our work in Southern CA. Unfortunately, with not meeting our goal during our year-end fundraiser, much of the growth must be put on hold until the funding is available. Some of the work, though, will continue going forward. At the last advisory committee meeting, we discussed some of the issues we face with people looking to relinquish their parrots. First, we had to understand what it means to be a rescue and adoption organization versus a sanctuary. Simply put, we need to evaluate a parrot for its adoptability. As much as PEAC would like nothing more than to be able to say yes to every parrot that we get called about, that is not physically or financially possible. Many birds with, for instance, feather destructive behavior, where they have been doing it for such a long time that the feathers will just not grow back, is more than likely not very adoptable. So what do we do? Again, taking each case by case we would be willing to post the parrot with a bio on our website and Petfinder once the owner has had the bird receive a vet exam and blood work like all the parrots in our foster flock. We would also ask the owner to agree to bring the parrot to a seminar should we have a potential adopter interested in the parrot. This is one way PEAC can get exposure for the birds we are not able to physically take into our foster group. Of course, this is not for every parrot, as some birds are just not good candidates for adoption, in which case we would provide the owner with information on how to contact some sanctuaries that PEAC endorses. So to sum up our new “policy,” we are still allowing people the opportunity to fill out a bird questionnaire and an at home evaluation of the parrot as the first steps in deciding if the parrot is a good candidate for being fostered. If, at the time, it is determined that the bird is a candidate, we would then let the owner know if we have an opening; and if not, we would agree to place the parrot on our website and Petfinder, and if a good candidate for fostering, on our wait list.
At the same meeting we evaluated the parrots in our foster program. Two particularly difficult parrots where discussed. It was determined that we have done everything possible starting with complete physical exam and labs and evaluations of behavior by a well respected behaviorist and animal trainer local to San Diego County. Both birds, we determined, belonged in a sanctuary and not in the PEAC foster program. As the director, I wrote letters to some of the sanctuaries that PEAC has networked with in the past. We where very pleased to hear back from the Oasis letting us know that at the end of April-beginning-of-May they would have openings for both of these parrots. The Oasis has very strict intake guidelines including an extensive list of lab work that is required. Each parrot is going to cost PEAC around $500 for the veterinary visits. Adding to that the costs of traveling, donation, and lodging to and from Arizona, the total estimate for providing these birds sanctuary is around $1500-2000. To maximize what we can take away from our visit with the Oasis, we have asked them to allow us to interview them and their staff, explaining their situation and involvement with parrot rescue. PEAC is working with Candice Thiem, a very talented film and writing professional, who has agreed at no cost to PEAC to put together several short video clips on a wide range of topics, but to also help produce a small documentary on the current issue of companion parrot over-population and all that goes along with that topic. We hope that from this point forward, we will not end up having to transfer parrots out of our foster program to sanctuaries with our more involved and detailed evaluation process.
Another change has been what once what was a suggested donation of $200 per bird being relinquished to PEAC to join its foster flock (each parrot entering the foster program costs on average $400 for complete veterinary work up) is now mandatory. In the event that the current owner states that they are not financially able to make this donation, we will then request that the owner email a letter to the director of PEAC which will then be forwarded on to the advisory committee along with any notes the director or volunteer involved may have to assist the committee in deciding to waive the fee or lessen the amount. Again since being the director, I have taken the approach that everything should be handled on a case-by-case basis and nothing is set in stone. As we teach in our seminar, though there are some similarities parrots share with their species, each parrot is an individual and may or may not have these common traits that are familiar with the species.
I often comment to the volunteers that one of the difficult things with being the director is with having to discuss financial issues, but I have come to realize over the course of my 2+ years as director that we cannot do the work we do without the support from all those who care about the plight all companion animals are in with over-population not only affecting dogs and cats but also the third most common pet in the USA, parrots. So I ask all of you who receive the newsletter to please take note of the “support PEAC” ad that we have included in this issue (and plan to have in all issues from here on out) and take just a few moments so send in even just a single dollar as with that single dollar PEAC may see a dream come true where rescue is no longer needed and all parrots are kept in safe, loving, and healthy environments. Do it now; just tear off the donation slip and mail it in with your check or credit card information. You may also go directly to Paypal and make a donation that way. Every penny we get with a donation goes directly to our work with education and the care of our foster flock.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have. You can either go to our website and send a message via that or drop me an email using email@example.com. I wish everyone a bright and happy Spring, and may all our companion parrots settle down a bit from this once again crazy breeding season.
In closing, I want to thank you for all that you already give, in both your time and finances, to our small but very important organization. We are not able to save them all, but to make a difference in one parrot’s life is worth the efforts to keep PEAC up and running, so that the ones we are able to save have a chance at a wonderful new life.
I want to take this time to thank all of you for your support, both financially and in time donated as volunteers. PEAC depends 100% on private donations to fund the work it does throughout Southern California. With your support, PEAC has been able to help just over 60 parrots either by working with the owners on training so that the parrot may remain in their current home, by placing them in the PEAC foster program, or by networking with other parrot rescues when the foster spots at PEAC are full. Education being the main focus of PEAC, we always start out by trying to keep the parrot in its current home. However, we do realize, more often than not, it's not possible for a variety of reasons for the parrot to remain in its current home. Being a small organization, our funds are limited, thus limiting the number of parrots we can foster at any given time. With the season of giving well underway, we ask you to take a moment and think about how your donation will give a parrot a second chance in life and giving PEAC the means to continue on for another year of education and rescue.
In the last report, we mentioned three special cases that PEAC was able to reach out and provide help to. Unfortunatley, we have not yet recovered from that financial drain on our funding. I ask you to think: what if there were no rescue group to take in the needy and neglected birds that are saved by PEAC? I have attached a story written by Barbara Crouse, one of our foster volunteers who has a special way with Amazons, about her experience with Beanie the Amazon that came to PEAC with a severe sinus infection and very weak immune system. The answer to the question I posed to you is that Beanie, and others like him, would not recieve the care he required and in the end would have suffered an agonizing death.
Another example is Major, the military macaw that came to PEAC with permenant damage to his feet resulting in his inability to perch safely on normal perches, so that he must be provided with flat surfaces to perch on. The damage to his feet also prevents him from holding food and feeding himself like so many parrots do. He is forced to feed directly out of his food bowl with his beak and must be fed soft food and crumbled pellets.
Could you imagine a world where these beautiful, loving, feeling animals are euthanized simply because they required veterinary care? Not only do parrots come to us due to medical needs; they are also relinquished for a variety of life changes that take place with their owners. For every parrot that comes into the PEAC foster program, the cost is a minimum of $375 for the basic exam and blood work and it's often much more, as so many come with underlying illnesses.
Not only do your donations go toward the veterinary care of our foster flock (approximately 90% of all donations go to vet care) but also toward other general expenses a rescue has, such as storage unit rent, phone and website maintenance, and costs associated with pulbic outreach events like the annual America's Family Pet Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Our general monthly operating expenses often amount to more than the donations we take in.
So please take the time to read Beanie's story, review the information on our website pertaining to this year's fundraiser, and find it in your heart to give what you can to help us work with these amazing creatures.
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