Bell is a little dove with a big problem. She has torticollis, a neurological movement disorder characterized by a twisted neck and tilted head. (There are many potential causes of torticollis including brain trauma, poisoning, spinal damage, vitamin deficiency, viruses, bacterial infection, tumors, etc.) Bell’s is so profound that the disorientation triggers somersaulting panic attacks which leave her bruised, sore and exhausted and, if uncontrolled, could lead to fatal injury.
Initially we thought she was having seizures but our avian vet helped rule that out. So far, the way we’ve been able to most reliably stop the panic attacks is by keeping a light blanket tented right over her. The super low ‘ceiling’ seems to help by providing enough orientation to stave off the panic.
When she’s not having fits, she’s self-feeding, preening and responsive to her mate Reed & the people caring for her. (Right now she’s snuggled in one hand while I type this with the other.) Despite her condition, Bell hasn’t given up. Some have suggested we euthanize Bell. If we reach a place where we are unable to offer any hope or relief to her, the mercy of euthanasia will always be available. We don’t need to start there.
We only know the back story of Bell & Reed (formerly called Mocha & Latte) in bits and pieces. We know they were originally surrendered to San Francisco Animal Care & Control as part of a flock of 13 pet doves in August, 2012. Their person, Carol, hospitalized in the end stages of ALS, could no longer care for them. We were too full to take them in but we helped the shelter to care for and publicize them. My pet dove Lily and I visited Carol in the hospital to reassure her that we were watching out for them. She returned the kindness by promoting our rescue on her hospital door. She died on September 28th, 2012.
Some of Carol’s doves were adopted by Kelly (a generous supporter of our work) and they are doing very well and making lots of friends at her store Leftovers.
We don’t know about the others except that on December 13th, “Mocha & Latte”, two of the thirteen doves that had been adopted, were returned to the shelter. Their person said he thought one of them, “had brain damage from something the house cleaner sprayed”.
The following day we were contacted by shelter vet Dr. Anderson seeking rescue for the pair. The twist-headed dove was suffering from severe torticollis and doing backflips with what appeared to be seizures.
We were fortunate to be able to arrange a special foster home for the pair who we renamed Bell & Reed. After two visits to our vets at Medical Center for Birds and lots of trial, error and consideration, we are finding ways to help Bell through her ordeal. She’s on anti-inflammatory pain meds and a broad-spectrum antibiotic and we hope that with time, support, her tent blanket and relief from the terrible fits, she may recover.
Neurological issues are very slow to heal but, with us, Bell will have all the time she needs. Please make a tax-deductible donation in support of the work we do. Thank you!
March 11, 2015 Update Little Bell’s Big Recovery
February 8, 2016 Update Little Bell’s Big News