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Celebrating National Bird Day, January 5

Animal Advocates Call on Legislators to Make 2005 "For the Birds"

Today the Animal Protection Institute (API), in
coordination with the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) and their
supporters, celebrates "National Bird Day" by calling on
legislators to consider legislation aimed at increasing
protections for captive birds.

Exotic birds were America’ fastest-growing pet choice in the
1990s. Consequently, they are now one of the fastest growing
groups of unwanted "pets" in the United States. There are
currently over 100 self-described bird rescues or sanctuaries in
the United States, many of which have come into existence in just
the last few years to address the epidemic of displaced, captive
birds. Despite their public popularity and increasing presence in
shelters and rescue facilities birds are often ignored or
short-changed when in comes to protection under anti-cruelty and
pet shop laws.

"Very few people understand the commitment necessary to meet the
special needs of exotic birds," explains Avian Welfare Coalition
President Denise Kelly. "As the novelty of having an exotic
creature wears off, many birds end up confined to cages, passed
from home to home, become victims of abuse or neglect, are
relinquished to shelters or simply abandoned."

Adds API Senior Program Coordinator Monica Engebretson, "While we
have enacted laws to protect our native birds — such as blue
jays, cardinals, and crows — from the retail industry, we have
failed to adequately protect captive exotic birds and to
recognize the inconsistency in allowing the pet industry to
exploit the birds of other countries."

The sale and possession of captive birds are regulated by a
patchwork of federal and state laws. Only 17 states (and the
District of Columbia) require that pet stores provide a defined
level of humane care birds in their custody and only 6 states
have statues or regulations which establish minimum care
standards for birds, kept in any situation whether commercial or
a private home. While regulations for birds are being considered
under the Animal Welfare Act, these laws will not apply to most
birds kept in private ownership or sold in retail venues.

In an effort to protect parrots in the retail pet industry, API
and the AWC introduced California Assembly Bill 202, requiring
that parrots are able to eat on their own ("weaned") before
release from a pet shop and that pet shops must have one to two
employees trained in the care and feeding of young birds. The
bill went into effect on September 1,2004, making California the
first state in the nation to regulate the sale of unweaned birds,
a precedent adamantly opposed by Petco and others in the pet

API has drafted model unweaned bird and pet shop legislation
available to interested legislators and offers support with
assistance from the AWC and other animal advocates in passing
such legislation.

The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal
advocacy organization with 85,000 members, working to protect
animals from cruelty and exploitation through legislation,
litigation, and public education. For more information about
API’s exotic bird campaign, please visit

The Avian Welfare Coalition is a working alliance of
veterinarians, conservationists, avian welfare and animal
protection organizations dedicated to the ethical treatment of
exotic birds. For more information about the AWC please visit:

Copyright © 2001-2005 Animal Protection Institute. All rights

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