Guest Author - Mavis Metcalf
Pepper is a Congo African Grey Parrot. On Thursday, August 14, 2003 the owners were outside with Pepper in her cage. They opened the door to put in some food and she took off & flew away.
They were devastated! They looked around their neighbourhood – they called Pepper’s name – and they left her cage outside, filled with food, in the hopes that she would return.
Pepper didn’t fly very far before coming down in someone’s yard a block or two away. A young man picked her up & took her into his home. He didn’t go looking for the owners, and thought that if someone wanted their bird back, they would find him. He put her in a dog crate in the house & let her out for some time each day. He fed her a pellet only diet and both he and his roommate smoked in the house.
This young man mentioned his find to a co-worker who mentioned it to her daughter. The co-worker and her daughter decided to “rescue” the bird from the young man by pretending that the daughter had lost her Congo African Grey Parrot. Within a week, the daughter proceeded to put some posters up in the area & knocked on doors of neighbouring houses asking if anyone had seen “her” bird.
She came to the young man’s house and immediately claimed Pepper as her own. Even though the bird bit her when she picked her up, the young man allowed her to take her because he believed her when she said it was really her husband’s bird. She paid a “reward” of $300.00 to the young main when she took Pepper because that is what she had stated on her posters.
The mother and daughter had posted their intentions on an e-mail list, and surprisingly enough, they received a lot of support from most of the people on these lists. They told everyone that they were rescuing the bird because the young man smoked and they didn't feel that he was taking proper care of her by feeding an all pelleted diet. A few people told them how wrong they were and that removing this bird from the area she had been found may make it more difficult to find the real owners. The “rescuers” promised to search for the owner, but didn’t explain why they couldn’t look for the owner without having the bird themselves.
One of the people who objected (we’ll call her the friend in another city), contacted an online friend who lives in the same city where all this was happening in the hopes that she would be able to help locate the real owner. Since she was taking her birds to an avian veterinary, she decided to ask if anyone had reported a missing African Grey to them. By this time another week had passed from when Pepper flew away.
One clue our detective had to work on was that it had been reported on the e-mail list that the bird had been saying “Pepper”. Using that information, she asked the desk staff if anyone had an African Grey with that name and if they could contact these people to see if their bird was missing.
The staff made a few calls and found out that an African Grey named Pepper was indeed missing and had been missing for two weeks after flying out of her cage. The people were frantic with worry and were very excited to find out that Pepper might be found. The excitement quickly turned back to despair when they found out that the phone number supplied by the “rescuers” was not in service.
An exchange of e-mails with the friend in another city resulted in the e-mail addresses of the “rescuers” being supplied to our detective who then quickly sent a message to the daughter with the bird.
Since the “rescuer” had scammed the original finder, she was very suspicious that the people found by our detective were not the real owners of Pepper. Because they live very close to the original finder, she thought that he was now scamming her to get the bird back.
Finally, she gave permission for the owners to come & see their bird. Pepper greeted the owners with cries of delight as soon as she saw them. Even with this joyful reunion, the “rescuer” grilled the owners as if she did not believe that Pepper was their bird. She demanded a reward (ransom) of $300.00 or she would not let them take Pepper home.
Since they had not been aware of the money required to reclaim their bird, they did not have cash with them and asked if it would be ok to give her a cheque for $100.00. This was accepted and the owners left with Pepper.
The detective who had managed to piece the puzzle together was called once Pepper was safely back at home and she went over to meet the happy family. Even Pepper seemed to know how much this lady had done – she sat on our detective’s arm and even gave her kisses.
This is a true story that has been pieced together by reading several e-mails, but it brings out some questions:
Why do people who find birds think its OK to keep the bird? If someone finds a dog or a cat, they look for lost pet ads, or they post a found pet ad or they call an animal shelter. Why don’t people do the same for birds?
If you find a pet (of any kind) & return it to the owner – do you expect a reward? Or do you just hope that if your pet is lost, someone will return it to you?
Would you think of keeping someone’s pet? Would a reward (or the size of a reward) make you change your mind?
It really is important to get the information about your lost bird out where others will see and hear about it. You never know who might know someone, who might know someone who just found a bird. Notify your veterinarian’s office, notify the local pound and/or humane society & put posters up in many locations both close to home & at shopping centers further away.
It is also very important to have a means of identifying your bird. Many birds have an identifying ring on one leg. Do you know your birds band number? Micro-chipping is a method of identification that can not be removed. If your bird does not have a microchip or a band, what method could you use to identify him/her?
Lets get a discussion going on the forum. What do you think?