Tag Archives: cruelty to animals

Maybe This Will Help (Me)

Having read another infuriating post today on the pigeon website I mentioned in a few posts a few days ago (this time about someone who found yet another lost racing pigeon, and was advised to “withhold food for a day”, take him ten miles away, and then release him to try–on a very empty stomach, and apparently with hundreds of miles to travel–to find his way home again), I have been struggling with myself to just leave it alone this time.  Clearly I’m not going to change anyone’s views on the subject, and I’m just too thin-skinned to take the abuse I got the last time again (clearly the “best defense is a good offense” rule is useful when one is trying to defend the indefensible).

So, instead, I’m going to post an article I wrote years ago about animal abuse here.  It was originally published in the now-defunct ASPCA Animal Watch, and subsequently in Big Apple Parent.  It’s not about pigeon-racing or “dove release”, but perhaps it touches on the same kind of thinking to some extent.  Posting it here will be the internet equivalent of sitting on my hands or biting my tongue to keep myself out of trouble.  (And yes, this blog IS about my book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days, and I do seem to be posting quite a few off-topic posts these days.  On the other hand, there is a thread running through the posts, I think, that binds them together.  As I’ve always been sickened by arrogance and ignorance about, and cruelty toward, the homeless, people with AIDS, people with substance abuse problems, etc., I am also sickened by the arrogant sense that as human beings we have “dominion” over other creatures, and therefore have the right to subject them to suffering and death for profit, entertainment, or just because we can.  Either way, to put it bluntly, it’s bullshit.)

Thank you for your continued patience with my self-righteous rants.  I will get back to my regularly scheduled posts about the book anon.

Here’s the article, which is entitled “Teach Your Children”:

http://zeroandback.blogspot.com/2008/01/teach-your-children.html

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The “Ethics” of Pigeon-Racing and “Dove” Release–Follow-Up

I made a serious mistake in thinking that I could post the previous post about pigeon-racing and dove-release on the site I recommended in it (Pigeon-Talk), and that people might simply give the matter some more thought.  What I didn’t understand is that the majority (or at least the most vocal members) of the site either participates in those activities, or condones them. (Several members, however, either privately or in public posts told me that they feel the same way I do about it, or that pigeon-racing gives other people who simply keep pigeons without putting them in harm’s way a bad name.  Now I understand why they were so reluctant to mention that on the site.)

I was accused of being “cruel” to birds myself,  and told that my post was “melodramatic bull-crap”. One member suggested that I “spew” to PETA about my utterly absurd suggestion that it might be cruel to send domesticated birds hundreds of miles away and simply hope that they make it back without getting lost, getting attacked or killed by predators, starving, dying of exhaustion, etc.  Then the thread was closed because of the “manner I used to express my opinion.”

Just now I looked up how much the prizes for pigeon-racing can be.  I’d been thinking that they were probably quite small, if anything. However, it seems that the owners of “winning” (not missing or dead) pigeons can potentially win thousands of dollars.  I think I now understand the source of all the vitriol against me a little better…

Here’s MY bottom line–you can tell me all you want about how much you “care about” and even “love” your birds. But if you know that you’re potentially putting them in danger of real suffering, and possibly death, by sending them out to race (or to “celebrate” an occasion), and yet you do it anyway, I find it a little hard to believe you.  If I love someone or something (or even if I don’t), I’d rather tear my eyes out than put him or her in harm’s way.

Here’s the thread, in case you’re interested in reading about the reactions people had to my post:

http://www.pigeons.biz/forums/f5/on-the-ethics-of-returning-a-banded-bird-to-his-her-owner-70864.html 

Watching the racing pigeon I found a few days ago die a horrible death made me incredibly sad.  The fact that these “bird lovers” refuse to even entertain the idea that racing and release are cruel ways to make money only makes it that much worse.

Oh, and please pardon my “melodramatic bull-crap.”  That’s just how I roll, I guess… 

O.T. : Releasing Doves to Die

I’ve been staying with my mother in Palm Coast, Florida, while renovations are being done on my place.  Four days ago, as I was driving across a toll bridge near her house, I saw white feathers flying around on the roadway.  I knew what I would see next—a white dove had been run over in the middle of the bridge.  (Anyone who knows me knows that I love birds like crazy, and doves are my favorite of all of them, so I was horrified.)

Although it happens sometimes, wild birds don’t get run over very often unless they’re injured or sick (and there are no white doves in the wild down here anyway).  Having kept white doves myself in the past, I knew that this had to have been a domesticated bird, and that he or she had probably just sat and watched in confusion as the car approached. White ringnecks are intelligent and beautiful, but they are also incredibly placid and slow-moving.  I knew that the bird, however he or she had gotten there, hadn’t had a chance.

Two days later I went outside to pick up my mother’s mail.  To the side of her driveway was a pile of pure white feathers–another white dove, apparently killed by a hawk or something else that would leave nothing but feathers.  And again I knew that the victim wouldn’t have had a clue about the danger until it was too late.  Of all the driveways in all the cul-de-sacs in my mother’s “gated community” this one had to be the one where another dove met his or her violent end.  It almost seemed that I was meant to have come across the remains of the two doves, because if anyone would be motivated to do something to prevent it from happening again, it would be me.

I didn’t take much for me to figure out what had almost undoubtedly happened a few days earlier–someone had had a wedding or something, and had paid to have a pair of white doves released as a symbol of…whatever.  As far as I’m concerned, it was a symbol of human cruelty and thoughtlessness for the sake of a profit.

I’m not a fan of the whole “dove release” thing in general–there are just too many risks out there for domesticated birds (especially here in Florida, where there are so many predators).  However, I do know that there are people who do the dove releases in a professional way, with trained birds and only under specific conditions.  (There are professional organizations that list those people/companies.)  And then there are the sons-of-bitches who don’t.

I assume that the culprit in the deaths of the two doves I found was a local Palm Coast company, but I can’t say with certainty which one it was (fortunate for them).  But I’m posting this so that when people Google “Palm Coast dove release”, or “dove release” in general, they will be aware that there are ways to give their “symbols” at least a fighting chance to survive the occasions.

Professional dove releasers do NOT use the pretty (and kind of dopey-acting) little white ringneck doves that are available for very little money in pet-stores.  They actually use white rock doves, which are larger than ringnecks, stronger flyers, and can be trained to more safely find their way back home after a release.  Visit this link to see the difference, and to get other useful information about how to find an ethical dove-releaser in your area:

http://www.white-dove-releases.com/faq.htm

The site also mentions that ethical dove-releasers will not do a release in bad weather, or so late in the day that the birds don’t have adequate time to get home before dark.

If you really feel that your wedding, funeral, or other special occasion won’t be special enough unless it includes a dove release, please don’t make the unnecessary and cruel deaths of defenseless birds part of it.  Please take the time to find a professional handler, and ask a lot of questions.

Better yet, watch some wild birds pass above you, and see their beauty and freedom as a symbol of whatever it is you’re commemorating.

UPDATE: If you’ve come to this post–particularly if you’ve found a lost dove or pigeon–please read the update I recently posted, here:

https://holdingbreathmemoir.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/another-o-t-bird-post/

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