Helping Animal Shelters to Help Pigeons & Doves

Young King pigeons at SFACC

Young King pigeons at SFACC

I’m sorry to say that the animal shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area used to routinely kill domestic (unreleasable) pigeons rather than place them with adopters. The birds weren’t named or socialized by volunteers, their profiles weren’t posted online, they weren’t included in outreach and adoption events. Not surprisingly, very few were adopted and so, when their time was up, they were killed.

I don’t believe that shelter staff ever want to kill anybody. It seemed to me that the open door shelters (which are the ones that accept pigeons and doves- most shelters turn them away altogether) struggle just to keep up with all the puppies and kittens, let alone find homes for pigeons. And there was no rescue organization to help the pigeons- despite all the pigeon breeders, fanciers, racers and hobbyists whose birds these were.

When I met my first shelter pigeon at SFACC in 2007, I was struck by this weird and fatal gap in the animal rescue network. All the other animals- the dogs and cats, the rabbits and the rats, the parrots and the reptiles, the chickens and the ducks, and the wild animals too- all had at least one rescue that might help them to leave the shelter alive. Many of the animals had multiple rescues as a safety net but domestic pigeons and doves had none.

I say weird because pigeons and doves wind up in open door animal shelters in significant numbers, more than parrots, more than reptiles. SFACC alone takes in more than 100 each year. Weird also because these are domestic birds- pigeons are arguably the first domesticated animal! If we are going to help all the other animals to find homes, why would we not do the same for pigeons & doves?



MickaCoo was created to close this deadly gap and, since we started six years ago, we’ve saved the lives of more than 600 birds (directly) and helped countless others. If we had more people-power and resources, we could be saving twice that many.

And that’s where the shelters come in. They do have people-power and resources! MickaCoo is very excited about the work that we do, not only to rescue and place birds ourselves, but helping Bay Area animal shelters to build their skills and abilities to better serve pigeons and doves.

MickaCoo offers free training to Bay Area animal shelters staff and volunteers.


Berkeley Animal Care Shelter, March 2013


Hayward ACC, May 2013


Peninsula Humane Society, July 2013

MickaCoo helped SFACC to bring pigeons out of the back and into their busy lobby where lots of people can learn about these under-served birds.  And we are continuing to work on other shelters to do the same. (See Great Big News for the full story.)

SFACC’s Judy Choy with King pigeons Coco & Lemondrop


The pigeons are their own best ambassadors

 MickaCoo of course brings pigeons & doves to shelter outreach and adoption events all over the Bay Area and we’ve inspired Peninsula Humane Society to do the same! (See more about all that PHS is doing for pigeons and doves here.)

SFACC Maddie's Adoptathon

SFACC Maddie’s Adoptathon

East Bay SPCA Adoptathon

East Bay SPCA Adoptathon

Marin Humane Society "Woofstock"

Marin Humane Society “Woofstock”

Peninsula Humane Society is the only other organization that regularly includes pigeons & doves in their outreach now

Peninsula Humane Society is the only other organization that regularly includes pigeons & doves in their outreach – so far

MickaCoo presents to the Bay Area shelters’ Humane Education students. 

Marin Humane Society Summer Campers

Marin Humane Society Summer Campers

Live Oak School

Live Oak School

One of the ways MickaCoo knows that we’re making a difference is that Bay Area shelters are beginning to include pigeons & doves in their media.

East Bay SPCA includes King Pigeon Peppermint in their sign

East Bay SPCA includes King Pigeon Peppermint in their sign

Avery_PAWS for SJACS 071213

PAWS for SJACS posts MickaCoo rescue of Avery to Facebook


Marin Humane Society’s newsletter to 18K subscribers includes MickaCoo King pigeon

SFACC Holiday Cards include a dove

SFACC Holiday Cards include a dove

Jolly King Pigeon on SFACC's Facebook page

Jolly King Pigeon on SFACC’s Facebook page

And we are continuing to build the pigeon& dove serving capacity of shelters in innovative ways.  

MickaCoo-donated Aviary at MHS Generates Awareness with Visibility

MickaCoo-donated Aviary at MHS generates awareness through higher visibility

SF SPCA Co-President Dr. Scarlett discusses expanding to help "Smalls" like Valiant

SF SPCA Co-President Dr. Scarlett in talks with MickaCoo about expanding to help “Smalls” like Valiant

MickaCoo still has a long way to go but we are thrilled to be making progress not only in the rescue of individual birds but also in helping to build the capacity and the compassion of the animal welfare community.

One big problem that we hope to help remedy is the glaring absence of shelter services for birds in the South Bay/Silicon Valley. None of the shelters, not SJACS, SVACA nor the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, serve birds! If the birds aren’t taken in by rescue, they are killed.

Please support MickaCoo in the important work that we do. Please make a tax-deductible and life-saving donation today! Thank you!


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