An Animal Hoarder’s Son Dropped 500 Parakeets in 7 Cages at a Michigan Shelter

“He just wanted to breed a few of them, and it got out of control.”

A couple of parakeets behind bars? Okay. Seventy-one in one cage? No.wonry/Getty

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I lived nextdoor to a Cat Person once—you know, the kind who feeds and maintains dozens of feral or semi-feral kitties. As a lower-case cat person myself (the kind who loves sharing a house with maybe a couple), I didn’t mind it at all. During my work-at-home days, I could always count on being entertained by a sleek tabby or a regal calico skulking about in my yard, up to God knows what. A creek ran through my neighborhood, and many neighbors credited its proximity to a profusion of rats. A confirmed musophobe, I never saw a single one, quite likely thanks to that feline gang. As the rodent horror stories mounted on Nextdoor, I began to think of those prowling predators as my bodyguards. 

Sunday brought news of a different and less socially beneficial sort of “animal hoarder”—someone with a thing for caged birds. Detroit Free-Press has the sordid details: 

The son of an animal hoarder dropped off nearly 500 parakeets to a southeast Michigan rescue shelter shortly before Christmas, and plans to return later with at least 50 more birds.

Kelley LeBonty, director of the Detroit Animal Welfare Group, which operates a shelter on a 25-acre farm in Macomb County’s Bruce Township, said in an interview Saturday that the son called to say he was coming to surrender 60 to 80 parakeets that were at his father’s house.

But when the son arrived at the shelter late Thursday night, he actually had 497 parakeets in his pickup.

The unfortunate parakeets arrived stuffed into just seven cages—an even 71 per container, which obviously is way too many birds per square inch. One such configuration would be a monstrosity; seven is unspeakable. The clear takeaway is don’t be an animal hoarder. It’s not fair to you—imagine the stench in the hoarder’s house—it’s not fair to the relative who will inevitably have to intervene, it’s not fair to the overwhelmed shelter that will deal with the mess, and most of all it sucks for all those abused birds. 

The shelter’s director, Kelley LeBonty, explained what had happened. “His son said that he just wanted to breed a few of them, and it got out of control,” LeBonty said. “The problem is birds breed easily. And then you just have more babies and more babies and more babies if you don’t control the situation.”

It pains me to say it, but—speaking of birds—the same advice applies to my Cat Person neighbor of times past. To concentrate that many cats in one place, and let them live outside, is to declare war on wild birds, which already have enough problems. I never saw my neighbor’s charges successfully capture a bird, but I did often witness them scourging lizards, a group of creatures that’s also under severe pressure. All things in moderation, including pets.

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