Monday, December 19, 2005

Parrots in Peril: The Free Market Allows Wackos, Crack Whores, Junkies, Scum, etc. Who Can't Make it In Life to Breed, Trade and Sell Parrots

Why you should think twice about buying a Parrot. This article discusses a case in one state. However, it is easily applied to all states, as protection does not exist for birds in the pet trade.

You'll see this quote further down in the article - "Nevertheless, no federal legislation protects birds in the pet trade....Basically,
anyone with a patch of land can set up shop as a bird breeder away from
prying eyes and without minimum care standards."

Translated by me - any sicko who can't make it in life, can easily make money off of an unregulated trade in living beings. I'm not so sure this is what Adam Smith and such meant when they talked of the virtues of a somewhat unregulated economy.

I personally like to keep sickos, crack whores, wackos, junkies, scum, etc. behind bars and not making money off of a beautiful species that should be in a tropical environment with it's relatives - not sitting in some scum’s apartment watching him do crack and being forced to say things like “Pass the pipe” as his stoned friends laugh and then pass out while an episode of Cops blares in the background. What kind of life is that?



http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/

story/5407680p-4885764c.html


Tacoma, WA - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Parrots in peril

Roy breeding operation leaves birds in squalor, and despite complaints and
investigations, Pierce County Council rejects change in ordinance

MIRA TWETI; For The News Tribune
Last updated: December 18th, 2005 01:16 PM (PST)

At Martha Scudder
s Parrot Depot in Roy, hundreds of parrots, including many endangered
species, have lived in cold, wet, filthy conditions for years, according
to eyewitness accounts, experts, deposed testimony and scores of
post-mortem reports.
The people and documents indicate Scudder
s has neglected hundreds, and possibly thousands, of parrots over its
25-year history. A veterinarian working with the Humane Society for Tacoma
and Pierce County called the 5-acre farm on 332nd Street South a
concentration camp
for birds.

Plastic sheeting covers eight ramshackle wooden sheds. It flaps in the
wind and offers little protection to the 800 parrots living there. At
least one roof has been leaking unfixed for years, according to the
veterinarian in a lawsuit deposition. Seven other sheds are equally
dilapidated.

Several complaints about Scudder
s have been made to the Humane Society and one to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service. Plus, animal control inspectors have checked the property and
warned Scudder that they believe the facility violates the state
s animal cruelty law.

Still, not a single bird has been removed or a fine issued.

In the past, Scudder has denied her birds are mistreated or diseased. She
has said in a legal document that she cleans the birds
cages only monthly during breeding season so as not to disrupt the
process.

Her partner, Bob Vincent, declined a request from The News Tribune to see
their aviaries and, after agreeing to an interview that included Scudder,
did not return several phone calls to set the meeting.

Reached last week, their attorney, Jack Maichel, declined to make Scudder
and Vincent available for an interview. A message left Friday at Scudder
s home was not returned.

The story of Scudder
s, which is considered the largest parrot-breeding operation in Washington
state, is a drama marked by legal battles, family feuding and
estrangement. Primarily, it reveals how little protection there is for
birds in the pet trade and how little oversight there is for bird-breeding
businesses, locally and nationally.

Parrots were the fastest-growing pet of choice through the 1990s. An
estimated 50 million to 60 million of the pet birds live in the United
States today. Each year, breeders produce about 2 million young parrots.

According to two Washington state experts, veterinarian Tracy Bennett and
former parrot broker Lori Rutledge, a big percentage of the state
s major breeding facilities for large parrots keep their charges in bad
conditions
a situation other experts say occurs nationwide.

Nevertheless, no federal legislation protects birds in the pet trade.
Neither do measures in most states, including Washington. Basically,
anyone with a patch of land can set up shop as a bird breeder away from
prying eyes and without minimum care standards.

The problems at Scudder
s continue, in part because of inaction by the Humane Society and the
Pierce County Council.

Until this year, the county contracted with the Humane Society to provide
animal control and shelter services, and the administrative infrastructure
to support them.

The Humane Society received five complaints against the breeder since
1999, citing filthy conditions, dead or deformed birds, overcrowded
incubators and general neglect. Animal-control inspectors went to the farm
each time, but no further action was taken.

When urged to oversee pet breeders, the County Council
which has the power to license, and thereby inspect and regulate the
facilities
tabled an ordinance that would have required inspections.

For now it is just the birds at Scudder
s that suffer. But the threat of an avian flu pandemic raises the
question: Is public health at risk from thousands of exotic birds being
kept in unlicensed, unregulated and unmonitored circumstances in Pierce
County and across the state?


New parrot fan gets involved


The situation at Scudder
s came to light in part through Seattle resident Larry Gallawa, an
engineer by trade and an animal lover by vocation. His battle against
Scudder led her to sue him for defamation, a lawsuit a judge eventually
dismissed.

Gallawa
s passion for animals revolved around cats and dogs until a decade ago,
when his daughter, Ronda, got a state job that required her to travel.

She asked her parents to take care of Bailey, her 3-year-old Umbrella
cockatoo. They did, and he
s been with them ever since.


I take him everywhere,
said Gallawa, 59,
in the car, to the supermarket, to the dry cleaners. There
s not many places he hasn
t been.


Now smitten with parrots, Gallawa endeavored to learn as much as possible
about them.

He found out parrots test higher than most primates on intelligence tests
and that the average parrot is believed to have the intelligence of a 3-
or 4-year-old child. Parrots can master large vocabularies and speak in
sentences with comprehension, and even learn to count. Sophisticated,
complex and social animals, parrots bond for life and are more loyal than
dogs. And, unlike dogs, they are long-lived: A large parrot can live to
100.

Gallawa also found a local expert, Lori Rutledge at Cockatoo Rescue, a
parrot sanctuary in Stanwood, who told him about parrot-breeding
conditions in the state. Rutledge estimates Washington has 20 large exotic
bird-breeding facilities and countless smaller ones.

Eventually she got around to talking about Scudder
s, which Rutledge said had a bad reputation.


I
d heard that so many times from so many people it was almost an urban
legend,
she said in an interview.
Everybody that had anything to do with the bird-breeding business knew
about Scudder
s.


Not liking what he was hearing, Gallawa contacted the Progressive Animal
Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood in late 2002.

Two volunteers, Donna Diduch and Stephanie Beecroft, went to check out
Scudder
s, saying they were interested in buying a bird.

Scudder, 65, wouldn
t allow them into the aviaries, but what they saw in the main house
prompted them to file a report with the Pierce County Humane Society. They
wrote that the place was
dark, filthy and cold.
One parrot was lying on its stomach, obviously sick and in distress.
Scudder said it was fine.

After reading the report, Gallawa insisted Wally Hall, field coordinator
for the Humane Society, go with an avian veterinarian for an inspection.
Tracy Bennett got the call.

Veterinarian visits

Of about 85,000 veterinarians in the United States, 97 are certified for
avian practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Avian
certification is considered the hardest to get because birds are
behaviorally complex, physiologically unique and there are so many
different species.

Bennett, 40, is one of the 97. For the last 11 years, parrots have made up
90 percent of her practice at the Bird and Exotic Clinic of Seattle. When
Bennett was called to inspect Scudder
s, she was one of three vets certified in avian practice in Washington
state. (Now there are five.)

Although she
d never been there, Bennett had seen evidence of the situation at Scudder
s in her own veterinary office. Her findings and later impressions, stated
in reports and letters to the Humane Society, became part of the
defamation lawsuit against Gallawa.

Bennett said the new owners of several young birds from Scudder
s had brought them to her for veterinary care. She said they were
uniformly in poor condition, tested positive for disease, showed signs of
stress and were underweight.

On Jan. 23, 2003, the investigators went to Scudder
s, which Bennett later described in an interview as
horrifying
a scummy, filthy, horrible
place.

Bennett said the main house was filled with cages and filthy with feces.


We went downstairs, and there was feces all down the wall,
Bennett said.
It was all green with it.


Downstairs was the nursery where Scudder incubated and fed baby birds.


Across from the babies were some incubators the size for chicks but one
had an adult bird, and he barely fit,
Bennett said.

The next room was filled with birds in stacked wire cages.


Some of the birds were brought in from the aviaries because Martha said
she thought they were sick,
Bennett said.
Some had clubbed feet walking on bare wire, which was very bad. Others she
was boarding and had no idea of their health status but they were mixed in
with the rest.


All of these were next to her nursery, close enough to contaminate the
baby birds with any diseases they might have.


Bennett said she saw only a fraction of the flock because Scudder would
allow her into only two of the eight bird barns that house African Grey
parrots, Amazons, macaws and different kinds of cockatoos, and some rare
species, such as Vasa parrots.

Bennett described the aviaries as
rotten old ramshackle wooden shacks with hanging wire cages.


They had what I call
fecal stalagmites
at least 6 inches high, maybe higher,
she said.
You would think seeing giant accumulation of feces would be a bad thing
but Martha Scudder didn
t comprehend that. I got the impression that she saw no problem.


The automatic watering system was leaking badly and poorly maintained,
Bennett said. Where there were water bottles for the birds, algae was
growing in them.


Water was coming into the barns because the buildings were open to the
elements,
she said.
It was bad, but at the time I was happy about it, because all the drinking
water those birds would get is what they could lick off the bars.


The birds that especially haunt Bennett are the ones left on their own.


I remember this one double yellow-headed Amazon just sitting on the bottom
of the wire cage
no perch, no mate
in this cold, rainy place in winter, sitting there alone with just filth
underneath it,
Bennett said.
And I thought,
This is torture for this bird.


Questions over what to do

Hall, the Human Society field coordinator, and Bennett dispute what
happened after the inspection. Hall said he asked Bennett what she wanted
to do.


I told her,
You
re in control.
Is there enough to pull (the birds)?
And she said,
No, I believe we can work with Mrs. Scudder to clean it up.


Bennett said she didn
t want to wait.


I told Wally Hall in the car that we needed to shut the place down,
she said.
He told me,
To shut it down, we need to show dead bodies.
I told him birds were sick, and the conditions were deplorable.


Hall
s now-retired assistant, Nancy Groves, 53, accompanied him and Bennett to
Scudder
s. Groves said that, to the best of her recollection, Hall preferred not
to take the birds but deferred to Bennett.


Bennett said she didn
t think there was enough cause to pull the birds,
Groves said.
She wanted Scudder to reduce their number and said she would write a
letter of recommendations
for improvements.

Retired Humane Society veterinarian Betsy Larson, 53, accompanied Hall and
Bennett to Scudder
s. She said Bennett asked Scudder to relinquish the birds.


The doctor said she knew rescue groups that would be very happy to take
these birds immediately and give them a wonderful home,
Larson said.

According to Bennett, Hall told Scudder he knew she had good intentions
but, because her husband had died, the place had fallen into neglect. She
had to make repairs, he said.


He figured she
ll just fix it up and everything will be fine,
Bennett said.
They didn
t want to make waves, and they didn
t want to get stuck with 500 birds. They told me it was very hard to take
these things to court.


Larson explained the difficulties in having to prove animal cruelty in
court.


It
s not the seizing of the animals that
s hard, it
s building your case,
she said.
With abuse cases, you don
t get people
s attention sometimes until there are dead animals
overt suffering that the layperson, the judge and the court will
recognize.


Here we get into how to make this case in a court of law. This is why it
s so hard to go after puppy mills and places that raise animals. Nothing
s worse than having the animals go back after a year.


Confiscation of animals rarely happens on animal control inspections, Hall
said.
It is a lot easier to work with someone to change their attitude,
he said.

Confirming the birds were sick would take work, Bennett said. As a defense
mechanism, they mask their illnesses. Plus, many severe illnesses can have
mild signs, such as lethargy, anorexia and ruffled feathers, that make
them hard to confirm without a blood test.

Bennett said she told Hall she could prove the animals were sick if they
let her run tests.


They said there was no money for that,
Bennett said.

Based on Hall
s stance, Bennett sent a report March 7, 2003, outlining recommendations
for improvements. Among a long list of actions, Bennett wrote that Scudder
should get rid of most of her birds, reducing their numbers to fewer than
100, replace the watering system and improve the birds
diet.

Bennett also reported Scudder
s to the local U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office, citing ill health of
the endangered birds and the conditions she
d seen. She later faxed a list of the endangered species.

Citing confidentiality issues, Fish & Wildlife supervisor Philip Knudsen
in Redmond declined to comment on any follow-up that might have been done
on the complaint.

Steve Pierce, Hall
s boss, said he called Bennett after reading her report. He said he was
appalled by the sanitation conditions she described.


I spoke to her personally and talked to her about seizing those birds,
he said,
and I can promise you nowhere in that conversation did she tell me that we
should seize those birds.


Bennett said the opposite and that she felt sure Pierce would take action
after they hung up. In retrospect, Bennett said, she should have plainly
stated,
All these birds need to go and right now.


Scudder received Bennett
s report, which had a deadline of May 31, 2003, for her to complete the
changes. But she didn
t take the recommendations seriously.

Later, in deposed testimony in the lawsuit against Gallawa, Scudder said
she thought Bennett
s recommendations
were not conducive to flock management
and that she didn
t feel required to reduce her flock just because the Humane Society sent
her a letter saying so.


She has no right telling me how to run my business,
Scudder said in a deposition, referring to Bennett.

On March 31, 2003, Hall got a written reply from Scudder, asking what
right he had to make her change anything.

On April 16, Hall provided Bennett with the state
s animal cruelty statute and asked her to write a response outlining
whether the situation at Scudder
s situation met the state
s requirements.

A week later, in a letter to Hall that became part of the defamation
lawsuit, Bennett outlined how Scudder
s situation met the five points of the state
s cruelty regulation.

Scudder had balked at making the requested changes, and Hall had it in
writing that the conditions were cruel under the law. So why didn
t he confiscate the birds?


The intent of the communication was to go to Scudder so she could make
changes,
Hall said.
It wasn
t for Wally Hall to get a search warrant to pull the birds.



How the Scudders started

In the early 1960s, John and Martha Scudder moved from Moses Lake, Grant
County, where their three boys were born, to Southern California. There,
they bought their first bird, an Amazon parrot, at a swap meet.

They soon became hobbyist breeders, and by the time they bought land in
Roy and moved the family to Washington in 1979, they had about 80 parrots.
John Scudder drove a truck, and Martha worked at a hospital. By the early
1980s, they were selling birds commercially as a side business.

With three sons, there was plenty of help. The oldest, John Jr., planned
to be a veterinarian and had been accepted to college. But when his father
suffered a debilitating back injury that required several surgeries, John
Jr. gave up that idea and took over his father
s truck route.

He married his first wife, Suzanne, had two sons, and started an aviary on
the land adjacent to his parents.

Some blame the decline in the elder Scudder
s aviaries on John Sr.
s death from cancer in 2002. But John Jr. says they have been bad since
the early 1980s, when he no longer was involved with them on a daily
basis.


Long before John (Sr.) got sick, those aviaries were never properly
maintained,
he said in an interview.
You
d go out from one day to the next and birds would be dead in their cages.
They thought of the parrots like livestock and saw themselves as
management. It was someone else
s job to clean the cages and feed the birds. As they got bigger, they got
worse.


John Jr. said Martha rarely was in the aviaries taking care of the birds.

He said poisonous deadly nightshade vine grows into the parrots
cages because the ground under them isn
t mowed, and the food dishes aren
t cleaned once a week as they need to be.


They
d scrape them out rather than wash them, so they were never really cleaned
properly,
he said.
Aspergillis bacteria, a mold that grows in the birds
lungs, grows in them.


After John Sr. went into the hospital, the birds were neglected so badly
it was
scary
to go into the barns, said his daughter-in-law of 25 years, Robin
Scudder, 42, who lives in Alaska and had been close friends with Martha
Scudder.


From 2000 on, things started getting really hairy, and the flock started
dying,
she said in an interview.

Finally, John Jr. and Robin Scudder fired the caretaker.


He would turn off the water system and forget to turn it back on and didn
t remember how many days it had been off,
Robin Scudder said.

The two cleaned the place up, but problems continued.


Martha stopped taking birds out for necropsies to find out what had
happened,
Robin Scudder said.
At first we buried them, but as the quantities jumped and jumped they went
to the Dumpster. I know of at least 50 to 75 birds in the Dumpster.



Family disagreement

John Scudder Jr., 47, and his wife, Kathy Scudder, 47, live on the 7 acres
adjacent to Martha Scudder
s property. The two run their own aviary, Happy Hookbills Ranch, which has
gotten a clean bill of health from Bennett.

Even so, says Kathy Scudder, Martha Scudder
s reputation has affected their business.

According to documents in the defamation lawsuit, Martha Scudder had
Washington State University
s Disease Diagnostic Laboratory write necropsy reports on 90 birds that
died at her farm. Those included 50 from 2002 to the first quarter of
2004.

Lab technicians found diagnoses of aspergillis, a long-term, chronic
infection in which the bird dies gasping for breath; proventricular
dilatation disease or PDD, a highly contagious virus commonly called
avian AIDS
; polyoma, which causes birds to bleed to death; and mycobacterium avium,
an avian tuberculosis contagious to humans.


I can
t sell birds in the Pacific Northwest because my last name is Scudder,
said Kathy Scudder.
And I won
t put my birds in the same stores with Martha
s anyway. I don
t know what diseases her birds have. If my bird gets sick, they
ll think it was sick from my place and say,
See, their birds are just like Martha
s.


John Jr. and Kathy Scudder had helped clean Martha Scudder
s barns for a follow-up inspection by the Humane Society on June 12, 2003.

This time, Bennett said, the birds
condition still was worrisome. But she was optimistic for the first time
because it looked as if Martha Scudder were going to have help from her
family in running the aviaries.

That didn
t happen, in part because that August, Martha became involved with
Vincent, 49.

By all accounts, Martha Scudder had been deeply saddened by the death of
her husband 18 months earlier.


Martha was at her lowest and looking for anyone,
Kathy Scudder said.
Bob was supposed to do the feeding, cleaning and landscaping. The next
thing that we know Bob is no longer the worker
Bob is the lover.


Then, after Vincent and Kathy Scudder got into a shoving match, Martha
Scudder took out a restraining order against her eldest son and his wife.
There now are mutual restraining orders between the families.

John Jr. and Kathy offered to take Martha Scudder off their restraining
order, but she refused if they wouldn
t accept Vincent on her terms.


I
d love to see the animals taken care of properly, but there
s nothing I can do about it anymore with the restraining order,
John Jr. said.

When Robin Scudder moved to Alaska, she boarded some of her birds at
Martha Scudder
s. She says in a court document taken as part of the Gallawa lawsuit that
Vincent told her 10 birds died, though she was never told the
circumstances. He sent her a certified letter ordering her to come and get
the rest of the birds when she visited Roy in December 2004.

When she came, the cages were in front of Martha Scudder
s house for her to collect. The birds were in terrible shape, Robin
Scudder said.


I opened the Amazon
s nest box and there was a nest of mice,
she said,
and the two Umbrellas
(cockatoos) nest box had so much fecal matter in their shavings it was
just soup.


Last August, Robin Scudder came to Washington to visit Kathy and John Jr.
and ran into the garbage collector who services both Scudder properties.


The Dumpster guy says,
Robin Scudder, where the devil have you been? And what
s going on with your mom? Do you know the amount of birds that have gone
in the Dumpster since you left?


The conditions at the farm

Vivian Graves, a friend of Martha Scudder for six years, moved her mobile
home onto Martha
s property 21/2 years ago. She lived rent-free with utilities in exchange
for taking care of the birds.

Until the end of September of this year, Graves was the caretaker for the
aviaries and has most recently seen the conditions there.

Graves says Vincent, who has taken over operation of the farm, wouldn
t allow the birds to be fed until so late in the day that she often had to
use a flashlight to feed them after dark in the winter.

That doesn
t work for parrots, which rise at dawn and sleep at dusk, Bennett said.
The birds need fresh food in the morning because they awaken hungry and
need energy for the day.

The watering system, which Bennett wanted replaced, still
leaks like a sieve,
causing cesspools under the birds
cages of moldy seeds and feces, with flies everywhere, Graves said.


It was disgusting,
she said.

Vincent has covered the cages of some of the birds, depriving them of
daylight to facilitate their breeding, she said. However, Bennett pointed
out, keeping birds in the dark produces the opposite result, because the
birds
internal breeding clock is based on following the sun.


Every time I brought up the idea that those birds cannot see anything,
Graves said,
they
re not getting any sun, that it
s not healthy, they
d say,
You
re trying to make pets out of everything.


Graves said the birds are deprived of heat in the winter and, without
perches, some freeze their toes off on the cage wire.

In her deposition, Martha Scudder said she provides heat only when
absolutely necessary.
She contended her birds are acclimated and don
t require heat because they are
neotropical.


In fact, virtually all parrots need warmth because they do not have the
thick down that insulates birds from cold climates. The term
neotropical
means only that the birds are from the tropical areas in and near South
America.

Tropical birds don
t become acclimated to the cold, Bennett said. At best, their immune
systems become compromised. At worst, they die.

Vincent and Martha Scudder brought legal action to evict Graves. She
recently moved to Utah but said she felt compelled to come forward with
what she knew about the Scudder operation.


I always thought of myself as a stand-up kind of person,
she said.
I can
t walk away knowing what I know and having seen what I
ve seen and not try to do something to make it better. I felt ashamed that
I was letting the birds down.


Details from depositions

After Bennett
s two visits and without any action by the Humane Society, Gallawa went
online to avian Internet chat rooms in fall 2003 to rally support and
raise awareness of the conditions at Scudder
s.

On March 2, 2004, Martha Scudder and Vincent sued Gallawa for defamation
and damage to their business resulting from his comments.


After two years of discovery and everything, he has yet to pull up one
document that we have exotic Newcastle disease or some of these other
things (like) psitticosis,
Vincent said in a phone interview with The News Tribune.

Gallawa denies ever saying the Scudder birds had those diseases and
contends he only quoted from Bennett
s report. Nevertheless, he welcomed the lawsuit.


Most people aren
t happy to get sued, but I was ecstatic. It meant Martha Scudder had to
open her life to inspection,
Gallawa said.
Under our state laws, my attorneys could go in and seize documents which
otherwise wouldn
t be available and that
s exactly what they did.


Among the documents subpoenaed were the necropsy reports by the WSU
laboratory.


The most shocking,
Bennett said, are the necropsies showing birds died of Pacheco
s disease, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal herpes virus.

Most of Scudder
s ill birds would have looked very thin before they died, Bennett said in
an interview.


The PDD birds are emaciated to look at,
he said.
They died with no one ever caring, taking them to the doctor, or putting
them in a warm area.


Martha Scudder had an expert of her own testify in the lawsuit about the
necropsy reports.

Brian Speer, a board-certified avian vet and a bird breeder, testified
that some of the reports were inconclusive and that there was no proof the
birds had psitticosis and exotic Newcastle disease.


There were diseases present, just not those,
he later told The News Tribune.

Martha Scudder, under oath in deposed testimony in the lawsuit, contended
there were no diseases in her aviaries and said no bird had died of
starvation.

However, Kathy Scudder said Martha Scudder once pointed out a bird and
identified it as dying of PDD.


That bird was laying in the bottom of the cage. It wasn
t even able to get up on a perch,
Kathy Scudder said in a deposition.
It was skin and feathers and bones. Two days later, she told me the bird
was dead. It did not receive medical treatment and it was not euthanized.
She just let it waste away until it died.


In the end, the judge hearing the lawsuit ruled Martha Scudder couldn
t prove damages from Gallawa
s actions and dismissed the legal action. Scudder and Vincent asked the
judge for reconsideration and were denied. They are now appealing the
ruling.

An appeal to county council

To crack down on bad breeders, Gallawa lobbied the Pierce County Council
in mid-2003 to have the Kennel, Cattery, Grooming Parlor and Pet Store
Ordinance include aviaries. The expanded ordinance would have allowed
inspection of any aviary wanting a license and would permit follow-up
checks without advance notice.

All that was required was adding the word
aviaries
to the ordinance with the number of birds defining an aviary. (A license
is required for six or more cats and dogs.)

The Humane Society
s Pierce said expanding the ordinance would enable animal control to
monitor Scudder
s facility in a meaningful way.


We were working with Scudder
s voluntarily for nine months, then they shut their doors to us,
he said.
Then there was no way to verify they were continuing to do what we were
asking them to do. If we
d had a license program in place, we could continue to access the
property.


Hall said the measure would help animal control officers do a better job.


If we had like a kennel license,
he said,
they would have to be clean, they would have to have their food in
airtight containers so there
s no rodents. They have to clean up after their animals, they have to
dispose of things in a certain way. Now we
re just relying on the cruelty law for birds, and they do fall between the
cracks.


He said he thought four aviaries he knew of in Pierce County would not
meet the standards of a revised ordinance.

The breeders were quick to react.


We had a mountain of people against it,
County Councilman Dick Muri said.
Dozens and dozens of my constituents (were) calling me, saying we didn
t need to regulate because there was a system in place.


Muri said he thought 90 percent of those who contacted him were breeders
or bird hobbyists with an interest in keeping the status quo.

Muri went out to see Scudder
s before a hearing on the proposed ordinance and was welcomed by Martha
Scudder and Vincent. Muri toured the property and didn
t see anything amiss.


That in itself doesn
t mean anything,
Hall says.
Of course, they are going to have the place looking spick-and-span when
they know someone like that is coming out.


And Graves said she, Martha Scudder and Vincent would
clean for days
if someone important were coming to the farm.

The County Council held a hearing on the ordinance Feb. 24, 2004, and
breeders argued against the amendment and the inspections it would bring.

One after another, 11 breeders said they either didn
t think they needed regulation, or that any inspection would be disruptive
for the birds and would cause serious problems if strangers came into the
aviaries.

As a result, they said, the county would have to pay what could be
thousands of dollars in damages.


The minute anybody comes in that the birds don
t know, the chance for disease and stress is very high,
said Jonna Kelly, co-owner of the Cripple Creek Avian breeding farm.
What happens if a vet comes out and any number of these birds that they
re inspecting die? Whose fault is that? Who eats that money? Who replaces
the birds?


Also testifying against the amendment was Laurella Desborough, then the
legislative vice president of the American Federation of Aviculture, the
largest organization in the U.S. representing the breeding community.


We see this as an issue that could affect birds not just in this county
but throughout the country when ordinances are proposed,
said Desborough, who traveled from Florida to testify.
If a stranger walks through a breeding aviary, and this is my concern
about inspections, you can end up with scrambled eggs, dead chicks,
damaged or dead mates.


The organization
s president, Benny Gallaway, later said Desborough was not authorized to
speak on its behalf.

Desborough also said at the hearing that the U.S. Department of
Agriculture was about to pass legislation regulating aviaries and that a
Pierce County ordinance would be redundant. In fact, the USDA officials
drafting the legislation do not expect federal legislation to be enacted
for at least five years.

Local breeders also were adamant that, though they had no diseases at
their facilities, inspectors would have to don protective suits so as to
not transmit any diseases from other facilities. And, they added, that
while protective suits were absolutely necessary, they would traumatize
the birds to such a degree as to make inspections impossible.

Hall and Pierce argued that the revised ordinance would help them do their
jobs. Bennett testified and discounted the breeders
concerns.

In the end, the breeders prevailed. Without further consideration,
examination or investigation, the council tabled the proposal.

Chairwoman Barbara Gelman ended the hearing saying,
This is not an issue that is going to be decided on at this particular
committee meeting. We
re going to have other committee meetings and other hearings.


None has been held in almost two years since.


This is not an (ordinance) where the public is beating down our doors,
Councilman Shawn Bunney said later.
There was no public outcry and we didn
t have compelling evidence to do anything.


In addition, he said, it was a strike against the proposition that its
main advocate, Gallawa, was from outside the county.


In hindsight,
Bunney said,
I can reflect that maybe we should go back and re-examine this issue.


Bennett says the council fell for a smokescreen set up by the breeders.


This is the tactic that they
ve come up with to say birds are so sensitive you can
t have anyone walk through their enclosures. It
s ridiculous and it
s just not true,
she said.
I
m an avian veterinarian, I certainly know how to walk through a facility
without disturbing the birds. Quietly walking through and inspecting is
not going to cause any of the problems they said.


Laurence Hawkins, regional public affairs officer for U.S. Department of
Agriculture
s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, sides with Bennett and
against the breeders.


I sympathize with their concerns but I don
t believe that they
re valid,
he said.
Our people are very familiar with how to go into bird facilities,
including handling parrots, to monitor them.


Last hopes

Eighteen months ago, Gallawa was diagnosed with a rare kind of terminal
cancer. It is his dying wish is to see Scudder
s aviary closed and the birds there in a safe place.


I only hope,
he says,
I can make a difference in at least a small way that will make life better
for these animals that deserve so much more than the human race has given
them.

1 comment:

Samantha J said...

Yes, I have seen Parrots in the worst of situations. For some reason, tatoo shops seem to have them. This definitely is abuse though, as they simply sit in a dark room all day without any interaction. parrots, like humans, at least deserve to be by their own. They deserve better than in small cages in dingy shops. There certainly should be regulation in the selling of anything live.

Search for More Content

Custom Search
Bookmark and Share

Past Articles