“$1 for Gimpy” (Bjork’s Story)

Crippled pigeon offered for sale on craigslist for $1

This is the craigslist ad that saved Bjork

On July 4th, I received an email from Cindy, a pigeon lover who regularly flags prohibited ads selling animals on craigslist. She had come across this ad seeking to find a home for a crippled pigeon youngster before she was “put down”. It hit me hard. We cannot keep up with all the rescue requests we get. We’re overfull with more birds than we have homes for and struggling to pay the bills we’ve already incurred but we had to try. I reached out to some of our volunteers in the area and, within a couple of hours, we had a plan in place for Palomacy adopter Alyx to meet the breeder and take in this little pigeon.

Safe in Palomacy's care

Safe in Palomacy’s care

Alyx met with the breeder the next day to get the little pigeon. I was very relieved to have her in our care. Alyx texted me, “She relies on her wing a lot for balance. Her wing feathers are messed up because her wonky leg sticks through them. She moves kind of like a bat. I don’t know why I’m calling her she, I have no idea. But she seems like a Bjork to me. And so the little bird became Bjork.


Bjork's bad leg was splayed & rotated, her good leg swollen & infected

Bjork’s bad leg was splayed & rotated, her good leg swollen & infected

Alyx lovingly cared for Bjork for the next couple of days until handing her off to Kristi who is her long term foster volunteer and vet appointment chauffeur.

Alyx loving on Bjork

Alyx loving on Bjork

Bjork has another flap-fest after flying (awkwardly & mostly sideways) around Alyx’s apartment

Kristi and her family welcomed Bjork with loving arms. Though doing pretty well overall, Bjork’s good leg was infected, hot and swollen and we were all relieved when she arrived at Medical Center for Birds to be treated and assessed as a candidate for corrective surgery.

Bjork in Kadence' loving arms

Bjork in Kristi’s daughter Kadence’ loving arms

On Tuesday, July 19th, Dr. Speer operated on Bjork both to surgically correct her splayed and rotated bad leg as well as to clean out the deep pocket of infection built up in her good leg. The procedures went very well and she’s recuperating in the care of the amazing Medical Center for Birds team.

Bjork, post surgery on the operating table. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork, post surgery on the operating table. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Plugs of pus removed from Bjork's good leg

Plugs of pus removed from Bjork’s good leg (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork waking up after surgery (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork waking up after surgery (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork will remain hospitalized for a couple more days and then, once again, Palomacy volunteer Kristi will make the long drive to Oakley to pick up Bjork and bring her back to her foster home. We are cautiously optimistic that these surgeries will enable Bjork, for the first time, to stand upright on her feet, to walk, to be up off her belly and have a healthy, happy life.

Update from Dr. Speer 7/20/16:

This morning, Bjork looks good. The derotated left leg is still in proper position, and there is some degree of weight bearing. The right leg is less swollen, but still the more painful of the two legs. I have a scattered amount of possibly Staphylococcus species growing from inside the joint space in that right leg at present time. We have moved Bjork into a surfboard type of splint to help facilitate uniform weight bearing on both feet, and I have a light pressure wrap on the right leg now. I can easily see a few more days of tweaking and nursing care before he can go home, for sure.

We will need to inspire a lot of donations to cover Bjork’s approximately $1600 medical expenses (after generous discounts). Please, if you can, make a tax deductible donation today!

See also Sugar’s Story about a splay-legged baby pigeon left by the breeder at San Francisco Animal Care & Control.

And please, help Cindy, the pigeon lover and animal advocate who saved Bjork, to flag prohibited pigeon ads on craigslist! The people who buy and sell pigeons in quantities for cruel reasons have been meeting up through craigslist but through flagging, we can make it harder for this to happen.

Cindy writes,

Pigeon shoots are like going deer hunting in a petting zoo. I don’t approve of pigeon shoots which is why I got started flagging ads. Killing harmless little creatures should not be condoned as appropriate entertainment. Hunters could shoot stale bagels or clay pigeons instead of live birds. I also disapprove of the way some racing enthusiasts sell off unwanted birds or “cull” their birds by cutting off their heads, or just fly them in numbers only to let the nonwinning birds just suffer,  hurt and lost, many attacked by predators and unable to feed themselves when they do not return. Nor do I approve of the releases of white pigeons and doves who are lost and also suffer. Nor do I approve of businesses such as gas stations putting nets over pigeons’ young and even the parent birds and let them starve and die, trapped and afraid, because they want these wonderful animals which they consider flying rats to disappear, rather than considering putting contraceptives in their food. Or people who advertise they will come to your barn and night and shoot unwanted birds for fun with air rifles.  Pigeons are special and have a right to be here. Any way we galvanize people to can stop this cruel and callous treatment of pigeons would be great. It just takes a few minutes per day.


Reasons for Flagging Pigeon Ads on craigslist & How to Flag craigslist Pigeon Ads by Cindy

craigslist is a valuable resource for people seeking to rehome animals including pigeons. We have obtained three wonderful pigeons from people wanting to rehome pigeons, through craigslist, and love them dearly. Sadly, however, some disreputable people use craigslist to buy and sell pigeons for cruel, inhumane reasons. When several people flag an ad as prohibited (and buying and selling of live animals is prohibited), the ads are then removed by craigslist and people who want to harm pigeons cannot easily contact each other.

Sale of pigeons for $5 or less each predicts a bad outcome. People rehoming fancy pigeons or really trying to find pigeons a good home will charge at least $10 or specify a decent “rehoming” fee. They will describe their birds as special types or have photos of a few birds. People seeking to harm pigeons are looking usually for a lot of birds and don’t care what kind of bird they are (they will take pigeons, mallards, pheasants, quail, chukars…they aren’t picky and don’t care about them or their fate). Nefarious people look for pigeons for edible squab, use them for dog training, hunt them, kill them with air guns for fun (“sport”), or catapult truckloads of pigeons into the air by the thousands where they are shot in a “pigeon shoot.’” Just a few minutes per day by several people making a concerted effort could save the lives of a lot of poor pigeons by keeping these people from meeting up with one another. Pigeons are not safe, loved, cared for, or have quality lives when they are regarded as cheap and expendable. Flagging craigslist ads can help put a stop to these uncaring people seeking to give away, buy or sell quantities of pigeons for bad reasons.

craigslist sport dog training birds pigeons Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 12.17.48 PM

People buying and selling pigeons are in violation of craigslist rules for buying and selling live animals. Within PA, KY, TX, NJ, and OK, ads are especially suspect because PA is the only remaining state where pigeon shoots are legal (even though most people in that state –I have read as many as 80%–oppose the shoots) but in other places, the pigeon shoots still go on in secret. People place ads for large “orders” of pigeons because they are sold cheaply then often shot to death when a large quantity are obtained. Some “brokers” drive around from state to state buying cheap pigeons and collecting quantities of feral pigeons before scheduled shoots and have even netted and kidnapped pigeons from New York’s Central Park to take to PA for the pigeon shoots there. Legislation has been proposed repeatedly in PA to stop this animal cruelty but the NRA always defeats it. Pigeon shoots are criticized and are publicized thanks to PETA, SHARK, and the Humane Society of the United States but are carried out clandestinely when unscrupulous people manage to sell and buy pigeons through craigslist and various hunting magazines. Sadly people gamble on who will shoot the most… as many as 5,000 to 6,000 poor harmless birds may be killed at one shoot, with more than $50,000 reportedly changing hands. Their wings may be trimmed so they turn certain ways and are easier targets. They may be kept crammed in large numbers in tiny cages for days without food and water before they are catapulted into the air and shot by the thousands over a two day period, and as defenseless creatures, unable to escape their cruel fate.

Pigeons used for dog training generally have their wings clipped… ads say things like “get that pup ready for summer!” Dog trainers claim it doesn’t hurt the birds but think about it. The pigeons are taken from their homes and families, are terrified, even if the dogs don’t bite down on or kill them immediately (which happens). People who use pigeons for dog training tend to be those who also use pigeons, quail, pheasants and other birds for hunting and shooting the birds. They are just using the pigeons to train their dogs to retrieve the birds later, after they have been shot. Pigeons are bought and sold in quantities through craigslist ads, often ferals caught in barns with nets at night. But many birds shot in pigeon shoots also have been observed to have bands on their legs because they are domestic racers and homers who are unwanted when their owners have too many birds. The unwanted, excess pigeons and race “losers” are sold off away from their mates and young, are stolen, or are gathered up cheaply from craigslist because people who sell to pigeon shoots aren’ t picky and if they can’t buy ferals, they have written in hunting journals that homers and racers are just as useful for shooting. Anything that is a high flyer is a good target, to them. They are bought and sold essentially to be killed… are kidnapped and kept crammed  in tiny cages without food and water until they are released, shot, and blown to bits by the truckload and by the thousands, so at the end of the shoot, thousands are dead and thousands are flopping, quivering, and dying and are gathered up, in pain but alive, and dumped as trash or  just buried in trenches or a few are taken home and eaten.  There are very sad videos of pigeon shoots posted on sites by SHARK. Sometimes the unscrupulous pigeon shoot suppliers even net and kidnap pigeons from locations such as Central Park to the chagrin of those who feed, treasure and love pigeons; some of the pigeons kidnapped or purchased have had names and have been pets. Other people sadly love to train their falcons to kill pigeons; they also use craigslist to find pigeons for their hobby. Others just like to shoot pigeons with air rifles and look for people seeking to rid their barns of pigeons and offer to visit and rid the barns of the “problem” pigeons. It doesn’t just happen in the US. People in other countries such as Spain are even trying to stop pigeon cruelty too. As a civilized society, we should not allow such mistreatment to continue.

These people who buy and sell pigeons in quantities for cruel reasons have been meeting up through craigslist but through flagging, we can make it harder for this to happen if we work together.

How to Flag craigslist Pigeon Ads

It is easy and takes just a few minutes per day. Go to Google or whatever your search engine is. Type in “craigslist” but don’t put a location, so ads pop up from all around the country. It is easy and takes just a few minutes per day. Use various search terms. My starting search term when I engage in flagging is “craigslist WTB pigeons,” for example. Don’t search just in “Pets” because a lot of pigeon ads are in “Farm and Garden” or “Wanted to Buy” or “For Sale by Owner.” I just type in “craigslist” then try a variety of search terms: “WTB pigeons” (which means “wanted to buy” pigeons), “ISO pigeons” (“is seeking out” pigeons), “pigeons for dog training,” “pigeons for training,” “free pigeons,” “barn pigeons,” “feral pigeons,” “wild pigeons,” “pigeons for events,” “taking orders pigeons,” “large quantities pigeons,” “cull pigeons,” “culling pigeons,” “live pigeons,” “free pigeons,” “white pigeons for weddings and events,” “pigeons falcons,” “pigeon removal,” “pigeon extermination,” “pigeon launcher for sale,” “common pigeons,”… use your imagination). So when you type in “craigslist pigeons for dog training,” for example, a lot of entries will pop up. The next step is to skim the ads and see if they are rehoming ads or cruelty related ads. You try out your search entries, one at a time, look over the ads that pop up, flag them, use the back button, and try the next search entries until you exhaust your list of search terms. If you use the back button, you can do this very quickly. Just looking at the dollar amount in the ad will suggest to you whether the ad is a legitimate rehoming of a pet or fancy pigeon or whether the pigeon is a commodity to be exploited.

Skim the ad titles and flag the offensive ads as prohibited so the ads will be removed. Flag any ads where pigeons are “free” and people want to unload them in quantities or being sold for tiny fees such as $5.00 or less, or for dog training, squab, wedding releases, “removal” from barns, and obviously for pigeon shoots. Just flag all the obviously nefarious ads you can find, using the back button of your computer or iPad or whatever, systematically flagging ads until you exhaust that search term and move through all your regular search terms. Such ads are in violation of craigslist rules for buying and selling live animals. If the ad looks legitimate, leave it alone. Some people for example are trying to rehome fancy pigeons or pet pigeons. I do not flag those ads as I want kind, honest people to be able to rehome their pigeons. After a while, you will notice that the same ads tend to pop back up however looking for pigeons to buy and sell for bad reasons, from the same areas. The ads you have already flagged will show up as flagged because they tend to be highlighted in a different color on your browser (mine uses blue and purple). Sometimes when you click on an ad category, a location will pop up and when you click on that, you will get a whole list of entries; just type in “pigeons” if there are several ads listed and the ads you want to see (e.g., a list of “pets” might open so you type in “pigeons” so the list becomes smaller). You can then flag that are obviously by people not trying to rehome pigeons but to just profit from them and their demise. After a while, you can do this very very quickly.

I don’t flag ads that seem legitimate, e.g., people rehoming fancy pigeons or homers or even racers (e.g., fan tails being rehomed for at least $10.00.). You may also encounter people trying sincerely to rehome one or a few special needs pigeons, including situations where they have  found a lost or hurt pigeon. You can reply to their ad and suggest to the ad poster ways to find a home or to get help for the pigeons, e.g., through Pigeon Talk adoption forum or Facebook or Palomacy or other rescue groups. You can even ask a poster looking to rehome a lost or hurt pigeon if they mind if you copy the ad and post it on Pigeon Talk or elsewhere, to help them help the pigeon. Most people are good people who sincerely care about their pigeons.

Just 20 minutes per day or every few days of flagging would get the illegal ads removed and hopefully save thousands of poor pigeons, quails, mallards and chukars from a terrible fate. (People buying and selling pigeons for shoots also advertise through their ads that they are also looking for quail, mallards, pheasants and chukars because they are easy to shoot too.) We all know pigeons are loving, intelligent, sensitive  creatures who have mates and offspring, are kind parents, and deserve better than this cruel disregard. Societies are judged by how they treat their children, elderly, the disadvantaged and those who cannot advocate for themselves including harmless little animals like pigeons. craigslist provides a valuable service by helping people adopt animals in need of homes when there is an adoption/rehoming fee and people looking to rehome those animals are willing to carefully screen potential owners. If we work together, and people flag the undesirable ads as prohibited, we can keep the pigeon abusers from meeting up with each other through craigslist. Please help if you can! Thank you!




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