In Pennsylvania, pigeons are being used for “live pigeon shoots”; a target practice justified by disregard for pigeons as sentient beings. Every year thousands of pigeons are trapped off city streets or sold by dealers, crated and half starved so they can barely fly, thus becoming “easy targets,” and are then catapulted into the air out of boxes to be shot at in competitions for money. They are not only blasted out of the sky, which is in of itself reprehensible, but if “just a pigeon” isn’t killed outright (which is rare), the wounded are kicked, stomped, bashed, dismembered and swung around by their necks in order to finally kill them, or just thrown alive into trash bags. If the birds are not easily collected, the shooters leave them to die of their wounds and pigeons have been seen drowning in the nearby freezing cold Delaware River. (Click here to watch SHARK rescuing pigeons from the live pigeon shoot.)
A particularly despicable place where these live pigeon shoots occur is called Wing Pointe Shooting Resort located in Hamburg, PA. On September 30th, 2012 Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) documented some of the worst abuse against pigeons our investigators had seen to date and the abusers, which included children, did so with such alacrity as to be alarming, knowing that they face no consequences even though they were being filmed. If this kind of abuse were documented in a slaughterhouse it would, and has, resulted in criminal charges! State lines should not be used as a defense against animal abuse; similarly the type of animal being abused should not be a defense against animal abuse. There is a misnomer about pigeons that has been perpetuated by ignorance. Some people believe they are unworthy of protection because they are “just pigeons”, carry disease and are dirty but this is a myth. When city pigeons are dirty it is because of human pollution and living in a dirty environment.
After its sole appearance in the 1900 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee banned pigeon shooting and refused to recognize it as a sport based on its conclusion that it was plain cruelty. Great Britain banned live pigeon shoots in 1921, as have most countries. So why is Pennsylvania one of the few remaining states in the US to not only continue this practice but to actively interfere with any attempts by local humane society police officers to bring legal charges against the abusers? The answer seemingly lies with the National Rifle Association and its dubious connections to the local District Attorneys and to wealthy patrons of live pigeon shoots who have donated large amounts of campaign funds to the Legislature including House Speaker, John M. Perzel.
The local PA law enforcement, DA, Attorney General and the Governor are well aware of these events and have failed to bring any charges against any shooting clubs or persons committing such heinous acts under the Pennsylvania Animal Cruelty Statute 5511. However, the statute clearly states that, “A person commits an offense if he wantonly or cruelly ill treats, overloads, beats, otherwise abuses any animal, or neglects any animal.” I defy anyone to watch the video coverage of these shoots and NOT consider them cruel as defined by the statute. These live pigeon shoots, but lets call them what they are – mass pigeon slaughters – are actively and vociferously supported by the National Rifle Association. The NRA feels that if we start to legislate against using guns in live pigeon shoots, it’s a slippery slope, which may lead to banning hunting entirely. This is one of the battles that SHARK, after years of attempts to bring cruelty charges against abusers and despite media inertia and local indifference/ignorance, absolutely will not give up.
The SHARK team regularly attends the live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania and other states to document the abuse and to wage a campaign to end this practice forever.
Please contact Governor Tom Corbett and members of the Pennsylvania legislature. Tell them that it’s long past time for them to end the abominable cruelty of live pigeon shoots.
To learn more, please visit www.PAShame.com to watch the videos about the abuse and to see some of the rescued pigeons.
Julia Orr works as Director of Media Relations for SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). Prior to joining SHARK, Julia spent many years in the entertainment world as a publicist meanwhile using her spare time working on animal rights issues specifically campaigning against anti-vivisection with Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN). Julia joined SHARK in 2012 with a desire to combine her skills to advocate for animals and raise the awareness of these issues in the media. Julia became a vegetarian 29 years ago and vegan for the past 10 years. In her free time she enjoys travel, art, writing and eating vegan food.
MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue thanks Julia, her colleagues at SHARK and all those who are fighting to stop this indefensible cruelty.