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BirdTricks Blog | Parrot Training

The Angus Case Reaches A Conclusion

For those of you following  Angus the eclectus parrot, the case went to trial a couple of days ago and a decision was reached. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I will provide you with links to the three previous posts I have done on this story so you can read about it chronologically. There isn’t enough coffee in the world...

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The Angus Case Reaches A Conclusion

For those of you following  Angus the eclectus parrot, the case went to trial a couple of days ago and a decision was reached. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I will provide you with links to the three previous posts I have done on this story so you can read about it chronologically. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to see me through rewriting it all.

A brief recap: In March of this year, Justin Lawther uploaded videos of his eclectus parrot on the windshield wipers of his vehicle while traveling at alarming rates of speed. To any eye, it was a clear-cut case of abuse. In April, I wrote this first post asking for support in getting a petition signed (drawn up by the newly formed Committee To Save Angus) that demanded the Australian authorities take custody of Angus. It was followed by this post explaining why the petition was so important. Finally, this post, which was written once contact had been made with Justin and it was discovered that his intentions were not abusive, just tragically unsound.

As you have probably deduced from the photo above, the court’s decision was to conditionally return Angus to Justin. Two members of the Committee To Save Angus were present, one testified for the defense, but spoke honestly about the stupidity of his act. She added:

I was able to confirm that he’d been trying to educate himself by asking others for help and that he did have an excellent vet. The vet had provided a written reference and an offer to help Justin by maintaining contact with him/regular check ins. The magistrate asked if I was prepared to maintain contact as well, I said yes. He asked if I’d report any suspected cruelty to the RSPCA and I said ‘in a heartbeat'.

Justin was offered a deal. In order to regain custody of his bird, he was required to plead guilty to animal cruelty, which he did not want to do because there was no malicious intent in his actions. Verbiage was changed to “conduct likely to cause suffering” and veered away from harsh language that would legally preclude him getting his bird back.

The total cost to Justin is a $250 AUD ($264.62 USD) reimbursement fee to the RSPCA for the care and upkeep of Angus while he was in their facility, a required $200 AUD  ($211.70 USD) donation to Wildlife Victoria (a wildlife rescue), many death threats and the complete upheaval of his life over the past several months. Compared to what he was facing in fines and possible jail time, he got a bargain.

The committee members were also present upon Angus’ return to Justin: The reunion between Justin and Angus was well worth seeing.That bird adores him. It was like a lost baby suddenly finding a parent. He clung to Justin and kissed him on the cheek, then snuggled on his shoulder.

Justin was, of course, elated to have his bird back, but I presume that everyone was more interested in seeing how Angus was feeling. Angus loves Justin, and there is a reason for that: there is trust, there is bonding, there is happiness. A bird will only tell it like it is. Angus loves Justin. That is the most important part of this story.

I know many of you are disappointed, perhaps angry, with the outcome of the trial. I know that some of you are concerned that with the terrible judgment he has shown in the past, Angus might not be safe in his care. I fully understand those fears.

It has been suggested that Justin is not mentally stable. There is probably some truth to that. I don’t, however, feel that it has any bearing on his ability to provide Angus with a good home. Justin is a troubled man. He has had a hard life. I think that Angus gives Justin stability and purpose. Their reunion was photographed and video taped. Justin was a calm and rational man in the footage. A committee member noted that he is an altogether different person with his bird, than he was without it. Animals have the unique ability to bring a sense of tranquility to humans.

Please watch this video about war veterans with PTSD healing themselves by working with abused parrots, and read this article about the use of animals in human therapy. Hopefully, these will help you to feel better about the decision of the court to return Angus to Justin.

Angus going home again - this time on the correct side of the windshield

However you wind up feeling after reading this, I ask you to let Justin and Angus move forward without interference or threat. Justin is committed to providing Angus with everything he needs, and I believe he will do it.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.


  • I have been watching this case for a while as I was also horrified by the initial stories that I had read. I was not happy however with RSPCA Australia’s first responses and felt quite ashamed. I am happy to hear everythings moving forward possitively for Justin & Angus now tho. Thanks for posting this.

    One thing that does get my ‘goat’ tho is Billy’s comment above.
    Saying that a whole country is filled with ‘hateful people filled with murderous intent’ purely because somebody vented there feelings over what we ALL considered at the time to be an horrific act is very small minded. And I have no idea where you get this …
    ‘This is the country that beats up handicapped people in wheelchairs and leaves them for dead’.
    I doubt you have ever been to Australia. DOn’t knock it untill you have tried it.

    Perth, Westerh AUstralia

    Jac on

  • Dear Audrey, and anyone who agrees with the sentiment that if an animal is raised for food it is acceptable to slaughter it.
    How would you feel if your pet had 2 offspring and you kept one to pamper and the other was taken away and treated inhumanely all its life and then slaughtered to be eaten?
    Does that really sound logical to you? Does that really justify the entire animal industry?
    That it is ok to be unbelievably cruel to animals as long as they are being raised for slaughter?
    Please don’t kid yourself that food animals are raised in sweet green fields and live a happy life until they arre killed for human consumption. They are socially deprived, nutritionally stressed, emotionally and physically restricted. The transport and slaughter process is horrendous, vicious and terrifying for the animals.
    We are all guilty, even if you are a vegan, if you feed your pet commercial foods, these are made from slaughtered animals.
    Instead of burying your head in the sand and pretending that all is well, find out what you can do to ease the extreme suffering of these poor animals.

    Julia on

  • i was shocked when i saw the shoot, but i am ok .with the court"s verdict. but nobody should behave like this with thier pets

    anagha on

  • I think the sad thing here is that some people think their way is the only way, and are ready to intrude into another persons life when something doesn’t follow their idea of correctness.
    I beg to differ with you sorry souls.
    Just looking at “Angus” on Justin’s shoulder shows that the parrot is well taken care of, and looks extremely happy and healthy. No harm was done to Angus, and the courts seemed to agree, but Justin was subject to the loss of his time and money defending himself. If I were in his shoes, I would slap a lawsuit on the person that filed the frivolous charges in the first place, to recoup my losses.
    People need to learn to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS and stay out of other people’s lives!

    Mind your own Business! on

  • I will let Justin and Angus move forward. :)

    Barbara DelGiudice on

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