Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our Fundraising Season Begins!

I began Parrot Rescue Services in 2011 with the intention of providing the best shelter situation I could for unwanted companion birds.  Thanks to the help of some very dedicated volunteers, in just a few short years we have developed a reputation for doing just that. Running a rescue is never easy. It is a seven day a week, 365 day a year commitment. It doesn't matter if it is a weekend or a holiday. Someone needs to be at the shelter every day to care for the birds. Parrot Rescue Services is an all volunteer organization, so we truly rely on human kindness to keep going. From the senior citizen who carefully folds and saves newspaper for us, to the weekly volunteers who help me feed and care for the birds, and to the generous donors who provide financial support; everyone who helps us is an integral part of the rescue. 
Every penny we raise goes directly to providing food and shelter for our nearly 60 birds. There are many more requests to take in birds, especially the larger ones, than we can handle. And although we strive to put as many birds back into quality homes as possible, there are just more requests for surrenders than there are spots available in our shelter. As I look to the future, my commitment does not waver, but my dream of continuing to provide for unwanted companion birds is contingent on support. As the primary caretaker for all the birds in my shelter there isn't a lot of time left over to work on fundraising, and this year our goal is ambitious. We are hoping to raise $12,000 by the end of January. With that goal in mind, we have several fundraising events coming up:
  • Our biggest fundraiser of the year is Give to the Max Day. This year it is on November 13th. 
  • November 29th is Small Business Saturday, and as the owner of Avalon Parrots I am hosting a Holiday Boutique at the Katherine Abbott Park Building from 12 to 5. All profit will be donated to Parrot Rescue Services, Inc.
  • December 6th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm I will be participating in another boutique at the Shoreview YMCA  and will donate all profit form my sales to Parrot Rescue Services
  • As co-owner of the Etsy shop WhiskersWingsandWags, we will be donating all profit from sales to Parrot Rescue Services. Gift items will be available for purchase by November 23rd. Work will be posted as it is finished so keep checking back!
  • Cash and check donations can be dropped off at the shelter or mailed to Parrot Rescue Services, 960 Mahtomedi Ave., Mahtomedi, MN 55115
All donations are tax deductible as allowed by the law.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Baby (of Linder's) Finds Shelter With Us

     There are moments in your life when it appears things have come full circle. When we first moved to the twin cities, we lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment. The best thing about it was the little balcony, because it allowed me to have a little potted garden. It was my favorite place to sit in the morning. It didn’t take me long to discover Linder’s; first as the flower marts in various parking lots and then their main store. There was not a better way to spend an hour or two than wandering around their vast store and outdoor gardens, getting ideas for my own landscaping projects. One year for my birthday my husband bought me a huge Clematis I had been eyeing. It has come back every year for over ten years. I put in an entire garden in the back yard around that plant, and enjoy the beautiful blooms every summer.
Of course I got to know Baby, the Orange-wing Amazon frequently out in the greenhouse on his tree, calling and talking away. It’s probably what attracted me to Linder’s in the first place; the parrot on their logo at the grocery flower marts. And like many of you, it was with disbelief I heard they were closing, followed closely by sadness. Losing a family run business that has been such a part of this community is just heartbreaking. Since I work crazy hours, I missed the announcement on the news and the article in the Pioneer Press (I tend to catch up on the news when I change cage papers and read the paper then, which isn't the most effective means of staying up with current events) but it didn’t take long for people to contact me asking me if I had heard they were closing and did I know what was going to happen to Baby. I didn’t know, but I assumed someone in the family would be taking him since he was a family pet. And if that wasn’t the case, I figured there had to be at least one employee that wanted to take him home.
     It wasn’t until I was contacted directly by one family member that I learned that was not going to be the case. Baby had been her uncle’s bird, but unfortunately he died about ten years ago. The rest of the family loved Baby, and took excellent care of him all these years, but none felt comfortable taking him home, either because of pets they already had or the amount of time they would be away from home. Baby would go from being out all the time with constant companionship to being home alone and they did not feel that was fair. Neither did any of the staff  want to take him permanently. Several were willing to foster, but did not want to commit to being responsible for him for the next 30 years or so. I find this admirable; and it tells me that they really knew what it meant to own a bird. Baby is unusually noisy, perhaps from always being part of a public place and all the activity. It definitely would take the right home to be able to handle all the noise he is capable of making.
     As you can well imagine, other people came out of the woodwork offering to take him. They were, in fact, overwhelmed by requests; people saying things like “I have 30 birds in my home. I can take him.” Or “I’ve always wanted a bird.” Given the situation and all the heartache and work the family was facing with shutting down a 100 year old family business, I am sure many owners would have simply given him to the first person who asked. But they cared deeply for Baby and wanted him where they felt they could be assured he would be happy and well cared for. They chose Parrot Rescue Services out of all the possible homes he could have had, and I am happy to say he has settled in and seems to have made the transition with a minimum of stress. Being a single bird all these years I thought he might feel a little overwhelmed by all our birds, but he isn’t in the least. He is not at the moment up for adoption, as there is the possibility that one member of the family will take him when things settle down for her and she has a better idea of what the future holds for her. For now, though, Baby seems happy to call Parrot Rescue Services his new home. If I can figure out where to safely place some plants I think that will be all he needs to feel right at home.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pennies for Parrots

A couple of days ago I was on the receiving end of not one but two caring acts by individuals.
My first tale involves a little cockatiel abandoned in an apartment building. His owner left him and two other birds on the floor with a blanket thrown over the cage, presumably so they would not make any noise and alert anyone that they were left there. 
It is just by chance that they were discovered and rescued. The woman who contacted me owns a kitchen and bathroom remodeling business and she and her business partner were there to bid a job for the complex. The birds were ok, but only because they were discovered soon enough. Their initial plan was for one of them to take the bonded pair while the single cockatiel went to Heidi, the woman who contacted me. Neither of them had ever owned birds before, and after Heidi did some research she realized she did not have a schedule that would give her new little friend enough attention. The three birds did not get along, or her business partner would have kept all three. Heidi made several phone calls, but Parrot Rescue Services was the only organization that called her back and agreed to take the bird. She brought the bird in the evening, and even gave a donation to cover the cost of his initial vet visit, although I did not ask for it. My son is in charge of naming all unnamed birds and he christened this one Lulu. He has been checked out by our vet clinic, Cedar Pet Clinic, and although appears healthy, we are awaiting results of all tests before we add him to our flock of rescue cockatiels.

My second story is just as heartwarming, if not more. I received a phone call from a West St. Paul police officer who, much to his surprise, had a bird land on his shoulder. He not only began making phone calls to see about finding an animal rescue that could take the bird, he took the bird to a veterinary clinic to have his little friend examined. He even paid the bill out of his own pocket. Again, I was one of the only rescues that returned his phone call. He said he had an Amazon that was found outside and asked if I would be able to take it. I felt a moment of trepidation, as we already have several Amazons and wasn't sure we had the space for yet one more. But I agreed to take him because I was so impressed by how much this officer cared about seeing the bird was housed somewhere safely. 
Much to my (admitted) relief, when he showed up, he said "I guess what I have here is a Quaker." At the moment a Quaker is easier to house in our rescue than a rogue Amazon. Again, I was very moved by the extreme care and generosity that Gregory showed. Not only did he bring the bird to me (christened Daisy by son Zach) on his own time, he refused to be reimbursed for the office call and exam. In my opinion he shouldn't have even been charged that to begin with, but he shrugged it off with the comment "It is what it is," and added that he really liked animals and just wanted to do what he could.
Running a rescue is a never ending job with never ending expenses.  Having two cases in one week where people not only went out of their way to see that a bird in need got somewhere safely, but helped with those very expenses reminds me of how many good people there are in this world. For every one that doesn’t care, there is someone that does.
October is the beginning of our fundraising for the upcoming year, and the money we raise between now and the end of the year helps us plan our budget. When one of our volunteers, Joe, learned about Give to the Max Day in November he decided to start a can drive to collect aluminum cans. His goal is to raise $500 by November 14 for our matching fund grant. You can help by collecting cans and dropping them off at the shelter, by dropping off loose change in our donation jar, or making a small monetary donation toward our Pennies for Parrots fund. As little as a $5 donation  (about the price of a gourmet coffee drink) will help Joe reach his goal. If you would like to contribute on line simply click on the pay pal donate now money to make a safe and secure online donation.
Unfortunately not all animals are lucky enough to be found or helped in time, but I am glad we were here for Lulu and Daisy. Your support will keep us here.

Pennies for Parrots Donation Drive. Donate $5 now for our birds
Daisy finds shelter

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Meet Kiw and Tiki

It has been a busy week at the shelter, with numerous calls for surrenders. I received calls for everything from cockatiels to cockatoos. After the initial consult where I determine whether or not a new bird will fit into our shelter I send out a surrender form for the owners to fill out. As we are a no kill shelter and also relatively small, I won’t take in a bird if I don’t feel I can house them adequately as one of our sanctuary birds or place it in a new home. It means, unfortunately, that I generally have to say no to the larger birds as I space is so limited. Because all our birds are out during operating hours I also have to think about compatibility. Right now we have a number of Amazons which can get extremely aggressive toward one another at different times of the year. I can only keep birds so far apart! And I think about quality of life. Overcrowding and lack of stimulation causes stress. I want our birds to feel comfortable and able to move about without feeling stressed.
One of the callers I was able to help had two Quakers in need of placement. They were moving to Florida and because Quakers are now considered an invasive species and illegal to own in several states, many of which they were driving through, they were unable to take them along. If you are caught not only are you fined, but the birds may confiscated and euthanized, depending on the statute for that particular state.  They were a wonderful couple that really cared about their two little birds. They were what I call ‘accidental’ bird owners; not looking for a pet bird but ended up with them through by happenstance. Tiki’s story is particularly heartbreaking it is such an overwhelming problem but doesn’t get the press that a puppy mill does. He was found in a filthy pet shop selling all sorts of exotics and other animals. His owner described the cage as filthy with droppings over an inch thick. There were bugs flying all over him and the cage. She couldn’t leave him there, and without knowing anything about birds, bought him, paying the ridiculous amount the woman requested. She called the police after she left and I am happy to report the place was shut down because the animals did not have clean food and water; a basic requirement and so the authorities are able to do something. Never underestimate the power of reporting animal abuse! Often all it takes to get results is taking the time to report an incident.
Tiki, much to Cindy and Pat’s surprise, was a delightfully friendly little bird that seemed to have weathered his years of neglect well.
Quakers are engaging little birds anyway, delightfully curious and playful. Thinking he would like a companion bird, they purchased a second one, Kiwi. They are a bonded pair and so we will keep them together. We charge a surrender fee to help cover the costs of the initial vet visit and this generous couple gave us a little extra for the birds. Knowing that there are caring people in this world always helps me balance out the stress I feel when I think of all the animals out there in miserable conditions. It isn’t possible to help them all, but it is nice to know there are people who don’t turn away when they see something.

Being able to house all our birds adequately is expensive, and why we are always thinking about fundraising. Our Harvest sale kicks off our annual fundraising drive. The money we raise between now and the end of the year provides us with our operating budget for the next year. Not only can you pick up some great items but you are helping us provide shelter for birds like Kiwi and Tiki.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Harvest Sale

One of the never ending jobs in running a shelter for parrots (besides cleaning) is figuring out fundraising. It is a never ending job, since expenses and overhead is never ending. For years I have managed to support my rescue efforts largely through the profits of my store, Avalon Parrots. And although that continues to help, our rescue has grown to the point where that simply is not enough. Our hugely successful exclusive toy line, Shrieking Feathers TM , has not only kept our shelter birds happily entertained for hours, but helped enormously when it comes to covering our expenses.

But we have bigger dreams than just maintaining a roof over the heads of these birds. Our dream is to have a much bigger building, with outdoor space for flights and even a garden to grow our own herbs and vegetables. We want to be able to provide a true sanctuary space for the birds that we cannot put back into a loving home.  Of course, big dreams take money, but it is something I am sure is within our reach. I think about fundraising every spare minute of the day, and am always trying to figure out new ways to support the birds.

One of my hobbies is canning and preserving. Every summer, I look for ward to the end of the season when so many fruits and vegetables are at their peak of flavor and I spend a frantic few weeks canning every spare minute of the day. This year, I've added handmade artisan soaps to these weeks of madness. Years ago I became interested in cold processed soaps and earlier this year began making and selling (and giving away) my handmade soaps to rave reviews. 

And of course, that got me thinking about a way to raise money for the birds: how about a harvest sale in front of the store to sell preserved goods, mixes and handmade soaps? So of course we are doing just that, on September 21st from 11 am to 4 pm! 
These are just a few of my all natural, handmade soaps.

These soaps, and much more, will be available at the Harvest Sale...and remember, all proceeds help our birds!