Tag Archives: dove release

More on the “Symbolism” (and Downright Cruelty) of Dove-Release, Pigeon-Racing, Etc.

I’ve written a number of posts here about the careless cruelty involved in the “sport” of pigeon-racing, and in the release of white doves or pigeons to commemorate a “special occasion.”  Here’s another example of what happens to those beautiful and innocent “symbols”–in this case, right after they were released by the Pope.  The birds who were attacked were able, in this case, to escape the grips of the crow and the gull, but, as the article says, “Their ultimate fate is unknown.”

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/27/angry-birds-popes-peace-doves-attacked/?hpt=hp_c3

Please find other ways to symbolize love and peace at your wedding or other occasion. Whether trained or not, pigeon or dove, released birds are subject to all kinds of danger and suffering–attacks by other birds, starvation, dehydration, drowning, cruel treatment by people who may take advantage of their docile natures, etc.  I would not be able to sleep on my wedding night knowing that I’d exposed fragile and innocent birds to such things, regardless of what any “professional dove releaser” told me.  Sending a creature out into harm’s way says nothing to me about love or peace–just the opposite, in fact.

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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… 

Another O.T. Bird Post

In July, I posted this, which is about the remains of some white doves or pigeons I found, and about the practice of “dove releases” for “special occasions”:

https://holdingbreathmemoir.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/o-t-releasing-doves-to-die/

Something happened recently that made me change my thinking on the practice, and also got me thinking about the similar practice of racing pigeons.  The short version–regardless of whether the “dove” releasers are licensed and professional–is that there is no such thing as “ethical” dove release, or pigeon-racing.  It’s a cruel way to make a profit, and, as a “sport”, pigeon-racing is unjustifiable.

Here’s what happened to make me feel this way:  A couple of days ago I took my dog out for a walk, and we came across a beautiful little white pigeon with a band on her leg.  She was obviously sick, and unable to fly, so (as I’ve done so many times in the past) I took her in.  I put her in a cage I had in a quiet room so that my dog wouldn’t bother her, and hand-fed her some water (she drank as if she hadn’t had any in days), and left some seed for her, although she didn’t look as if she was going to be able to get anything down.  Her breast-bone was sticking out–a sure sign that she was sick and starving.

I called around and, using the information on her band, found out that her “owner” owns a coop about 30 or 40 miles away, and that he races pigeons.  I was hoping that the bird would recover, and I knew damn well that if she did there was no way I was going to send her back, only to possibly be killed (although I can’t confirm it, I’ve read that returned racing pigeons sometimes simply get their necks broken by their owners because they can’t “perform”), or sent out into the dangerous wild again.  I would have given her a safe home.

But I was too late–a couple of hours after I took her in, I found her rolling on the floor in agony, her head twisting around.  Her beautiful gray eyes seemed to be pleading with me for help, but all I could do was pray that the suffering would stop, and tell her that I loved her and that I was sorry.  It was horrible.  And then she died. I found her on her back, with her wings spread out on either side.

Earlier in the day, when I went to a wonderful site where people can go to get advice on caring for pigeons and other birds, a member who does both dove releases AND pigeon races told me that if the bird recovered, the “ethical” thing to do would be to return her to the owner.  The more I thought about that, the angrier I got (and I was already pretty angry).  A person who sends DOMESTICATED birds out into the wild, sometimes very long distances from home, telling me that NOT sending her back would be “unethical”?  Really?  I responded that if I had come across a young child who had been injured because his parents thought it was OK to let him just wander the streets alone, I wouldn’t be bringing him back to his parents–I’d call Child Protective Services.  ((I subsequently learned that “my” bird’s owner had sent her 80 miles away, and that she was less than a year old, and that he’d recently lost six birds–who, he assured me, would all “come straggling back”–although the one I’d found clearly would NOT.)

I did call the owner that night, after the pigeon had died.  When I told him what happened, he said, “Oh, that’s too bad.  But it’s OK–I have lots of other birds.”  I responded that it was NOT “OK” with me, but he didn’t seem to get it.  The bird was just a commodity–a piece of equipment for the “sport” he entertains himself with.

Dove (or pigeon) release is not a “beautiful symbol of peace and whatever”–whether the birds are trained homing pigeons or not, there are still too many dangers out there.  A lost bird can spend days suffering because it doesn’t know how to get food and water in the wild–and even trained pigeons get lost.  And, for the same reasons, pigeon-racing is not a “sport.” The death of the little bird I found was not a fluke–she was the third casualty I’ve come across in less than three months, and there are many, many others (if you look at the “I Found a Pigeon or Dove” forum on the site to which I’m about to give you the link, you’ll get a better sense of how often it happens).

If you come across a pigeon, dove, or any other bird that is sick or injured–whether the bird is banded or not–please catch it and put it into a safe container (like a small dog crate or box) and go here to get advice on how to help it:

http://www.pigeons.biz/forums/f20/

And, even if you find the bird’s owner (and even if he or she offers to pick it up or have it shipped “home”), I suggest that you don’t return the bird.  If you can keep it, do so (they’re amazingly smart and affectionate creatures).  If not, the people on the site can help you find a home for it.  THAT’S the ethical thing to do.  If you’d seen, and held, the bird I’d found, you’d understand.

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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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