Inside a Pet Bird Rescue

Susan Friend


he article entitled "Pet Bird

T Rescue" by Stacey Ewell, which appeared in the July, 2004 issue of the Watchbird magazine, begs for a response from an informed insider. My name is Susan Friend and I am the former Executive Director of Safe House, Inc, Companion Bird Rehab & Retirement Center, a small parrot rescue which was ultimately based in Surry, Virginia. I'd like to use the aforementioned article as a launching point from which to address the issues of small parrot rescue maintenance. And I'd like to use Safe House as an example. Hopefully, this will offer readers some insight into why these rescues close and suggest that small rescues thrive better with public support, than with public criticism.

Let me begin by stating that the primary objective of Safe House was to pursue quality lives for parrots. Everything we did was for the good of the birds. We would not even take a bird we didn't think we could help. At the direction of Dr. Jean Eddy, our avian veterinarian, Safe House had a quarantine room and enforced a 30 day quarantine period for all incoming parrots. We had a 5-person board of directors. We sought accreditation from the Association of Avian Rescue Organizations (AARO) before they dissolved and were inspected by them twice - once in Williamsburg and once in Surry. Some of their board members included Bonnie Kenk, Diana Holloway, and Liz Wilson who were gracious enough to remain as Safe House's three honorary board members. We became incorporated with the State of Virginia in March, 2000. We had filed for 501 (c) (3) non-profit status in March 2000 from the IRS and were in our 5-year determination period 

when we closed our doors. Safe House had a solid adoption policy requiring a potential adopter to attend an Avian Basic Care Seminar, pass a home inspection, fill out an adoption application, and pass the approval of an adoption committee before they could adopt. Before taking the bird home with them, Safe House required adopters to have at least three visits with the parrot of their choice. Payment of an adoption fee was also required. My former husband, Mike, and I checked on birds after they had been adopted and made ourselves available for behavioral counseling if needed.

With all those things going for us, to an outsider, it probably looked as 

though everything was smooth sailing for Safe House. However, things are not always as they seem. Lack of funding was the biggest problem we faced and one I suspect that is common to many small rescues. This was not for lack of trying, however. Both Mike and I worked full time jobs, yet several weekends a month we attended animal oriented events, set up our booth and handed out literature. Our literature brochures included the latest information on avian care, information on Safe House, information on other avian welfare groups and complimentary copies of what we felt were the best avian publications. All of our brochures included forms to send in donations. 




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