August 18, 2014
by Elizabeth
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Global Giving PHOTO CONTEST 2014!

Please vote for Gracie and help win compassion, honor and funds for pigeons & doves!

Beautiful white homing pigeon in loving adopter's hands

Homing pigeon Gracie was rescued from life as a test subject in a lab

We don’t always see the truth. In our culture, too many people see pigeons as somehow less than worthy of our respect and compassion. Beautiful pigeon Gracie, shown here in her adopter Cheryl’s loving hands, was bred to be used for “dove releases”. She was then purchased to be used in lab testing. Finally- she was rescued. Now she is safe, unexploited, cherished. This photo, shot by photographer and MickaCoo volunteer Elisabeth Millay, has been chosen as a finalist in the GlobalGiving Photo Contest 2014. Please help us help people to see who pigeons really are. Help us win this contest, the $1000 prize, the recognition and the honor. Please vote (once per person, email and verification required) and please- share this link and ask others to vote- http://www.globalgiving.org/poll/vote/?pollOptionId=756. We will need to inspire lots of voters between now and Friday August 29th to win this for the pigeons.

Read about Gracie’s rescue here: Lab Pigeons Can Count

Read the story of Cheryl & Super Dovee

See more of Elisabeth Millay’s MickaCoo photos

Thank you for helping MickaCoo to help save the lives of pigeons & doves.

Cheryl at home with pet pigeon

Volunteer & adopter Cheryl

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Volunteer & photographer Elisabeth Millay with Opal

Please remember to vote and share!

 

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August 16, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ Sonoma County VegFest 2014

We all, MickaCoo volunteers, pigeons & Lily the dove, had an awesome time at the Sonoma County VegFest 2014 on Saturday! We made lots of wonderful new friends & caught up with some old ones. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the plight & potential of pigeons. We love coming together to make this world more compassionate. (Please sign & share our Pledge to Say No to Squab!)

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August 13, 2014
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Top Rated Great Nonprofit 2014!

Thank you! Thank you for supporting and powering and enabling MickaCoo to be a great nonprofit! And thank you for endorsing our life-saving, culture-changing work with your five star reviews and earning MickaCoo, for the third year in a row, the distinction of being a “Top-Rated Nonprofit”! Great Nonprofits writes, “Think of the program like a people’s choice awards where volunteers, donors and people served by the great work of each and every nonprofit can cast their vote in the form of a review to express their appreciation and potentially win nonprofits a spot on the List…This is a great honor, given less than 10% of eligible nonprofits have received this distinction.”

Rescued King pigeon Clyde tells MickaCoo volunteer Cheryl how he feels

MickaCoo volunteer Cheryl listening to what rescued King pigeon Clyde has to say

The birds can’t write reviews for our work. We thank you for doing so on their behalf!

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Some of our reviews:

“MickaCoo truly serves the welfare and rights of domestic pigeons, a bird too often maligned. I’m often surprised by the dedication and compassion of their staff, volunteers and supporters by how they go to great lengths to rescue pigeons found lost outdoors or in shelters and needing medical care. MickaCoo addresses all aspects of this issue, not just rescuing and caring for these birds, but doing adoptions, education on how great pjs are, and classes on caretaking. They partner with local groups and agencies to offer these services. I don’t have much money for donations, but always feel that some must go to this organization. 7/29/14″

“The MickaCoo organization is truly exceptional in that its volunteers go above and beyond in order to secure safe, happy homes that are specifically appropriate to each individual bird. After rescuing a wounded baby dove last summer, I was at a loss for what to do with the little guy. I ended up raising him myself, as one of his legs was permanently crippled and he could not be released into the wild. I searched for months trying to find a home for him, only to be met with closed doors and negative reactions. After stumbling upon the MickaCoo website during one of my searches, I immediately emailed the organization. MickaCoo began the process of pairing my dove with suitable partners (both human and dove). I was touched by their concern for the welfare of this tiny creature. When the time came to give “Tweet” up, I was confident he was in good hands. The work MickaCoo does is invaluable, and gives precious, oft overlooked birds, a chance at a healthy, happy life! 4/7/14″

“MickaCoo had my heart at the word “pigeon.” An organization that rescues, rehabilitates and champions animals who so often get the short shrift in our world earns my affection and respect for that endeavor alone. But MickaCoo transcends even that valuable role. They exceed all expectations of compassion when it comes to interpersonal advocacy. 

Several years ago, my husband and I found ourselves with a lost and unwanted racing pigeon, no outdoor space, and no real guidance on how to care for our new rescue. Even as a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, I had precious few contacts in terms helping domestic pigeons. 

Despite an always overwhelming case load, MickaCoo stepped up to offer us counsel and resources. It was through MickaCoo that we learned how to properly house, feed and care for our wayward bird. MickaCoo came in to help when we encountered a rescue situation that was beyond our capacities to handle. And it is entirely because of MickaCoo — and the deep care they showed for the birds and for us — that we ourselves, became allies and advocates for the well-being of pigeons. 

It’s difficult to assign a value to the tireless work of animal rescue and advocacy groups. No quantification can possibly capture the totality of what they do. But I can think of no greater measure of an organization than its ability to change hearts and minds. MickaCoo and its volunteers, through their own passions and commitments, did just that. They engendered in us a deep ethic of care for these birds — and they continuously create a lasting legacy of compassion, one by one, bird by bird. 3/25/14″

You can see all our reviews here.

2014 TR Badge Hi-Res

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TopRatedNonprofit2012

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August 3, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ Nihonmachi Street Fair 2014

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue volunteers and birds staffed a booth at the Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown on Sunday and we made lots of new friends for pigeons! Thank you all so much for helping us to spread the word- birds need rescue too!

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July 31, 2014
by Elizabeth
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Awesome Blossom, Guest Post by Alice Finney

Awesome Blossom

Awesome Blossom

Blossom came to my house by way of suggestion from MickaCoo volunteer Cheryl Dickinson. See, one of my pet pigeons, Mr. Stinker, whom I love very much, had been without a mate and very sad and lonely since his girlfriend, Pearl, a large Show King pigeon, passed away. I was looking for a special needs female pigeon to hopefully bond with Mr. Stinker and Cheryl thought Blossom might be the one.

I brought Blossom home and she and Mr. Stinker instantly became a couple. They followed each other everywhere, hooting and kissing away. I was so thrilled. I must tell you at this point, Blossom seemed to hate people. She got a certain look in her eye like Joan Crawford and would growl, bite, and slap if a human got too close. Although she was quite formidable and had no interest in me, she won my heart even so.

Blossom came in with painful swollen feet and I worked with my vet to treat her. You could tell by the way she was walking that she was in a lot of discomfort. We put her on antibiotics. They cleared up her feet issue but then she got a bump at her wing joint, though still on the antibiotics. (Blossom had paratyphoid.) We switched her onto different antibiotics to take care of the wing but a few days into the new medications she began to act sluggish. A few days later I noticed she wasn’t really pooping and she had a lump on her belly that seemed to grow. I had a real bad feeling about this and couldn’t sleep Sunday night. Monday morning I got out of bed and was trying to find help to get her to the vet while I went to work. The more I stuck around trying to find help, the more Blossom seemed to be fading. I skipped work and the wonderful leader of the rescue group MickaCoo, Elizabeth Young, ditched all her chores for the day and drove us out to Oakley to the Medical Center for Birds.

It was the first time Blossom and I had been there (I took Mr. Stinker too because he was so worried). They were fantastic. We got a terrific vet named Dr. Brenna Fitzgerald. She poked and prodded and xrayed and puzzled over Blossom. There were so many things it could be. Finally with a sonogram, Dr Fitzgerald saw the evidence that this was a strangulated intestine poking through a hernia. We admitted Blossom into the hospital and they performed life-saving surgery the next day. Dr. Fitzgerald was able to untie Blossom’s knotted bowel, restore function to her GI tract and repair the hernia. Blossom had to stay at the hospital for a few days but when she came home she was joyous.

She is recovered now. She had to stay away from Mr. Stinker until she healed but she is a happy girl. The bird that used to growl at me now gives me kisses when I give her medicine and makes happy rhythmic grunting noises, sort of like purring, when I scratch her head. I love her and have the adoption papers in the mail so that she can stay with us forever.

I’m telling you this story to make you aware of the wonderful work MickaCoo does and the great pets available for adoption. I took a special needs bird with health issues but there are plenty of loving healthy birds that have been rescued from certain death that need a home. If you aren’t able to adopt, please think about making a tax deductible donation.

Blossom & Mr. Stinker

Blossom & Mr. Stinker

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July 19, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ The East Bay SPCA Adoptathon

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue volunteers and birds spent their day catching up with old friends and making new ones at the East Bay SPCA Adoptathon! Highlights included a special Hey Sugar Sugar! serenade and being interviewed by SF Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov. HUGE thanks to our host the EB SPCA and to all of our volunteers- Christiana, Melne, Sally, Max, Xavier & Louisa!
 

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July 16, 2014
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Sugar’s Story

Sugar, 2 weeks old

Sugar, 2 weeks old

On Thursday, June 12th, when SFACC shelter veterinarian Dr. Chris Anderson called asking for help with a splay-legged baby pigeon surrendered to them the day before, I almost burst into tears- not for Sugar, but for the impossibility of the situation. We are asked to help more birds than we have resources. We couldn’t help her- we already owed thousands of dollars in vet bills for Truffles, Speckles, Fluffball, Donut, Fella, Stella, Penny… And we couldn’t not help her. Because of her leg deformity, she was stranded flat on her tummy, unable to walk or even stand up. She would be euthanized as unadoptable.

Splay-legged baby homing pigeon Sugar unable to stand

Splay-legged baby homing pigeon Sugar unable to stand

Sometimes splay-legs, if treated early enough, can be corrected inexpensively with hobbles (and pain meds) to force and hold the legs in place until the muscles are able to take over, but not always. It depends on the positioning and structure of the bones. Sometimes surgery (always expensive) is required to break, rotate and reposition the bones. Without knowing what Sugar would need but knowing we couldn’t afford either, Medical Center for Birds generously agreed to try and help Sugar pro bono. I picked Sugar up from the shelter and one of our volunteers drove her the 60 miles (one way) to Oakley.

Severely deformed

Severely deformed

Sugar’s case was difficult. She appeared to need breaks in both legs which would prolong surgery and increase the risks. And her bones were too small for threaded pins which would complicate recovery and lessen the likelihood of a successful outcome. The vets studied the baby pigeon, conferred and debated the possibilities. On the morning that she was scheduled to have surgery, Dr. Kane tried, against logic, to see if Sugar could tolerate being hobbled and taped into standing position on a snowboard style fixator. And, if she could, what it might achieve.

Sugar's feet beneath her for the first time

Sugar’s feet beneath her for the first time

To everyone’s surprise, they were able, despite her funky physiology, to get a potentially functional posture. She was monitored and rebandaged every day.

Sugar

Sugar, June 20

Sugar stands proud

Sugar stands proud, June 21

Once Sugar found her feet, she never looked back.

Dr. Kane & Sugar, discharged June 27

Dr. Kane & Sugar, discharged June 27

So much preening to do!

So much preening to do!

Sugar helping with E-mail

Sugar helping with E-mail

That's a lot of E-mail!

That’s a lot of E-mail!

Sugar's hobbles working great!

Sugar’s hobbles working great!

Sugar rocking her cute baby fuzz

Sugar rocking her cute baby fuzz

Sugar's first humane education presentation

Sugar’s first humane education presentation

Sugar on a hobble-free break

Sugar on a hobble-free break

Looking forward to a happy future

Looking forward to a happy future

MickaCoo is a volunteer-powered, donation-supported project of Community Initiatives. If you can, please support our work with a tax deductible donation.

Thank you for helping MickaCoo to help Sugar and so many others.

Sugar thanks you!

Sugar thanks you!

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July 11, 2014
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Healing the Broken: Aurora’s Story

Aurora in need of rescue

Aurora in need of rescue

If Aurora could write this post, I imagine it would go something like this:

Thank you for helping me! My name is now Aurora. As a young racing pigeon on one of my first flights, I got injured and grounded. The people who found me were well-intentioned but uniformed and they kept me in an unsafe and uncomfortable enclosure. They never got me any help for my broken, backward leg and, while I healed the best I could on my own, I was miserable. I was in pain, scared and lonely.

But not any more. Now I am safe! On the Fourth of July, even though MickaCoo is full, their volunteer appeared to truly rescue me. She held me carefully with loving hands and spoke gently to reassure me. She took me to her home in a crate lined with an extra soft towel to provide relief to my tortured feet and aching legs. She scritched my head and loved on me and the very next day I was at the vet getting expert care.

While I have a long recovery ahead of me, I already feel so much better! I’m getting proper food, lots of love, vet care for my wounds and pain medicine to help me through. I’ve been x-rayed and the doctors at Medical Center for Birds are conferring about how best to surgically repair my leg. There is hope that I will be able to walk again! I am so happy that they are having a hard time keeping me from celebrating with baths in my small water dish. I am saved! None of this would have been possible if not for your generous support. Thank you!

When “MickaCoo is full”, it means that our foster homes and aviaries are full up, that we have more expenses than funding and more work than people-power to get it done.

And we are full. But on Friday, July Fourth, when I received emailed photos showing two pigeons being kept in completely unsafe and inhumane conditions, we had to save them. I reached out to MickaCoo volunteer Jill and, despite the holiday, she dropped everything to help.

Jill picks up the story:

Arriving to pick up the pigeons, there were dogs, big and small, milling about the front yard, barking and jumping. When I picked the broke-leg racing pigeon now named Aurora up off the wire cage floor, I could immediately see that she was dealing with not only a broken leg healed wrong but a ‘good’ foot/leg that was seriously compromised. Her racing band was cutting into her swollen leg and I was not surprised to see she had bumblefoot, a condition common among birds and rodents housed on wire. It’s very painful.

Broke-leg racer kept standing on wire in unsafe cage

Broke-leg racer kept standing on wire in unsafe cage

The wing-injured pigeon housed in the backyard (now named Indy) had been attacked by the neighbor’s dog. Despite the lack of treatment, her injury has healed, though she can’t fly. She was kept in a makeshift cage fashioned out of chain link fence, boards and wire leaned together haphazardly. There were huge gaps and it’s a miracle she wasn’t killed by predators. 

Denise Ambriz rescued pigeon 070414 20140703_153022 crop

Wing-injured racer in unsafe, make-shift enclosure

 Aurora seemed to know I was there to help her. As soon as I put her in the padded crate, she went crazy eating pigeon feed! Yay! Good and proper pigeon grub! After getting this little bird home, she quickly settled into a nicely padded cage and welcomed neck scritches gratefully. I can only imagine how good it felt to have some relief and proper care. 

Aurora's untreated broken leg healed backwards

Aurora’s untreated broken leg healed backwards

Her 'good' leg was swollen, infected and painful

Her ‘good’ leg was swollen, infected and painful

Aurora loving Jill's loving care

Aurora loving Jill’s loving care

Indy has settled nicely in one of my aviaries and is now defending ‘her territory’ with great fervor. She’ll be married (if she is really a hen) soon I imagine, since we have lots of bachelor pigeons.

Indy is safe & happy now

Indy is safe & happy now

The very next day, Jill was at Medical Center for Birds with Aurora. MickaCoo depends on your donations to fund this work and we really need your help to pay for Aurora’s veterinary care and surgery.

Foster volunteer Jill comforting Aurora

Foster volunteer Jill comforting Aurora

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Aurora’s too tight band was Dremeled off her swollen leg

Radiographs show multiple breaks

Radiographs show multiple breaks

Aurora's infected feet are treated & bandaged

Aurora’s infected feet are treated & bandaged

Aurora underwent surgery to rebreak and correctively reposition her backwards leg on Wednesday, July 9th. I’ll post that chapter of her story in the coming week.

Aurora hospitalized pre-surgery

Aurora hospitalized pre-surgery

Please help us to help birds like Aurora when there is no where else for them to turn. Please support our work with your life-saving donation.

TO BE CONTINUED

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July 11, 2014
by Elizabeth
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A Home Fit for a King: A Guest Post by Donut & Mia Skillern

Donut, 5/20/14

Donut, 5/20/14

Donut- age 3 months, as told to Mia,

Hi! I’m Donut, a young King pigeon. I was bred to be meat (squab) and when I was barely a month old, I was plucked from my life with my parents and sibling and sold at a live food market. I was dyed pink and used in a ceremony where doves are released as a “prayer to God.” Little do people know, often the white “doves” they think they are releasing are actually helpless baby King pigeons like me.

I guess you could call me a ‘glazed’ donut. I have a distinct pink streak that runs down my left side from my wing to my tail. I think that I was dyed to match the dresses worn during the ceremony. Anyways, because I was just four weeks old and because I am a domestic bird, I couldn’t fend for myself—at times I was nearly run over by cars. Luckily, I was found wandering around the intersection of Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco (near the park where I was released) by a kind person who brought me to San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC). There, I was kept in a back room with three other baby pigeons. We were not in adoptable condition. We were underweight and we had respiratory infections. On May 20, Elizabeth Young, Founder of MickaCoo, rescued us. All of MickaCoo’s foster homes were full up with other birds, so she called a newly ready foster family. They said Yes and the next day, she brought us to the Skillerns’ backyard aviary. I enjoyed all the space and being with the other baby pigeons and the sunshine outdoors, but I didn’t like being handled and given my daily medicine (I prefer birds to people). Being the oldest and largest in the group, I was naturally the boss bird. For a while, life was good! But tragically, despite lots of special care from our foster family and the avian vets, my pigeon friends, Truffles, Speckles and Fluffball, died, too sick for their compromised immune systems to cope. Then I was alone again, but just for a few days. My family brought home a mated pair of pigeons, Homer-King cross Darius and his mate Harper, a gentle little Homer, to keep me company. They’re both older than me, so I’m no longer the king of the aviary. Yet, I am a pigeon full of liveliness and spunk and I know that I am lucky to be alive!

Mia & Donut

Mia & Donut

Young Mia cradling rescued King pigeon Donut

Donut & Mia

Mia Skillern- age 11 years, writes,

I first heard of King pigeons when I started volunteering for MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue. These sweet, beautiful birds are raised for meat and killed and butchered at four weeks old. Sometimes, a sympathetic person will set some babies free, expecting they can thrive on the streets like the feral pigeons they see. Unfortunately, these domestic birds have no chance of survival. They can barely fly, self-feed or evade predators. Most of them will become meals for cats, dogs, hawks, ravens and seagulls. Some of them are even killed by cars and mean people. Occasionally, ‘lucky’ pigeons will survive long enough to make it to the animal shelter. Even there, though, unless rescued, the baby pigeons are more likely to be euthanized than get out alive. MickaCoo rescues and finds forever homes for these wonderful birds. I give lots of thanks to MickaCoo volunteers and the vets at Medical Center for Birds and all the other people who helped Donut live to tell his tale.

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June 8, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ Animal Place’s Music in the Meadow Celebration

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue was thrilled to be invited to join Animal Place at their wonderful Music in the Meadow celebration at their sanctuary in Grass Valley. It was an awesome day and we made a whole lot of new friends and had fun with lots of old friends! We are grateful to Animal Place for all that they do to help farmed animals and for helping MickaCoo to raise awareness, inspire compassion and reduce demand for the cruel “delicacy” of squab (baby pigeons bred & killed for meat).

Special thanks to our volunteers Cheryl, Josette, Christiana, Shae & Barbara and to Kate for giving us her much appreciated VIP package!

 

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