Most nights, after I have put the birds to bed, I will turn out all of the lights and go upstairs to the office to work on the computer. Sometimes, though, I will sit on the top stair in the dark and listen to my birds contentedly grinding their beaks as they fall asleep. I think about how lucky I am to have them and how much richer my life is with them in it. I also think about how lucky they are to have found their way into a loving home where their every need is met. Not all birds are this fortunate.
I am one of those people that lie awake at night thinking about the plight of birds around the world who are living in hellish conditions, in cages far too small, eating nothing close to what a parrot should. I think about the ones that have been banished to dark basements for voicing their opinions about their life. I may not know them personally, but I know they’re out there suffering. I suffer along with them knowing there is nothing I can do to help.
Perhaps the best thing about this blog for me is that it gives me the opportunity to help people help birds. This post will give you the same opportunity.
This is the story of Angus, the eclectus parrot. Angus lived with his owner, Carrie Chatters, until one day when he let himself out of his outdoor cage by undoing the feeder door bolts and had the misfortune of finding Justin Lawther in his travels. Please watch this video:
Mel Vincent is a volunteer rescuer/transporter at Wildlife Victoria in Australia who studied animal and veterinary Bioscience at La Trobe University. She is crusading for Angus’ safe return and had this to say:
“On several occasions, Mr. Justin Lawther took “his” clipped male Eclectus parrot ‘Angus’ for a wild ride on the windshield of his car at speeds of up to 100 km/h on a highway in Melbourne. Angus was hanging on to nothing but the windshield wipers. Mr. Lawther video recorded the event and published it in the comedy category of YouTube along with several other videos of similar “rides” filmed in different backstreets around Melbourne.
During one 100 km/h ride, Mr. Lawther at times turned on the windshield wipers – at other times made rapid stops. These seemed to be attempts to knock the bird off the car, but Mr. Lawther states he wanted the bird “to feel the wind in his feathers”. On one news story, after being told that people consider his actions cruel, his quote was “It doesn’t matter to me”.
After the RSPCA became involved, Mr. Lawther absconded with the bird and neither have since been found. It has come to light that Angus is very likely a bird that was separated from its real owner in December 2010.”
“The video footage shows that Angus is in poor condition. His colour is dull, he is missing his tail feathers and his wing feathers have been clearly clipped incorrectly. The other concern is that in some pictures you can see that his colour is actually incorrect, he has a red spot on his head and this is a symptom of ill health in itself.
The RSPCA (our main animal welfare organization) have said that they are investigating but they have yet to act. Their delay has given Mr. Lawther the opportunity to try to disappear. That said, members of the public have been contacting me with sightings – so authorities should be able to track him.
Some people may be concerned that Carrie needs to prove ownership and I can assure people that this is what the petition is asking for. We want a proper investigation.The ownership issue isn’t a police matter because it’s a case of escape not theft. (Eclectus parrots like to open doors all on their own.) Carrie herself just wants to see Angus safe before the ownership issue is dealt with. She has got proof of purchase and can provide DNA evidence.
Without public pressure, this is not going to go any further. This is where the petition has become important. People can actually help this situation; they can motivate the authorities to act on seizing the bird. We need signatures desperately because the faster we get them – the faster we can act on them. The signatures are really Angus’ only hope.”
So there you have it. This bird needs to be separated from Lawther immediately, but the only way to inspire the active involvement of the RSPCA is through public demand. This petition has been circulated and is sorely in need of signatures. PLEASE SIGN IT. Pass it along to your bird and animal loving friends and create public awareness. Angus’ survival depends on it.
As for Justin Lawther, I would like to be locked in a room with him for just a few moments. I understand that the police don’t have a real case in this situation where ownership is concerned. Apparently, “finders keepers” has been passed into law. But let’s look at what else we have, though: a man is driving recklessly at speeds reaching 100km/h (62 MPH) in the breakdown lane of a highway. Attached to his windshield wiper blade is a companion animal, whom he repeatedly tries to catapult by slamming on his brakes on a public roadside. Let’s not forget that he was videotaping and narrating the event while driving at high speeds. SURELY, THERE IS A CRIME IN THERE SOMEWHERE!
I hate sitting idly by while this poor excuse for a human being is out there abusing a lost bird. This is easy, guys. Just get the word out there and sign that petition! If we do nothing, thereby letting him get away with this, he will have taken us all for a ride.
See an update on Angus Here!
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
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