Rescue an animal; don’t buy

Everyone has heard the mantra celebrated by rescues everywhere: “save a life.” It’s an ubiquitous chant among dog and cat enthusiasts, and it’s true! I don’t want to detract from their statement. There are so many animals that need loving homes… but those animals aren’t limited to dogs and cats. Yes, dogs and cats are easier to adopt. They’re easier to train because they have generations of domestication behind them, but I promise that they’re not the only lives worth saving.

Many times, I hear people insist that rescued parrots are difficult to deal with. Rescued reptiles comes with too many problems. There are behavioral issues, bad habits, and aggressive tendencies that come with an animal who has been abused and taught to expect the worst from people. Many times, these same animals have expensive hospital bills to go along with them. There’s a lot of repair and work and healing that goes into rehabilitating an animal who has never really been cared for… but many times, it pays off.

I will not make you a promise that every single animal is capable of being a terrific pet. Every single animal is worth saving, but not every one can be the cuddle-bug that you’re hoping for. But, that’s just my disclaimer. Personally, I haven’t experienced what I call a “failure” story. One of my green cheek conures came to me as a fragile, malnourished, and terribly frightened little guy. He was petrified of hands. People haunted his nightmares. He had night frights. He used to shake, violently, when I would move too quickly.

It took a lot of time and effort, but two years later, I can flip him onto his back. He comes to me when I call him. He steps right up, gives me kisses, and will nestle into my hair just like my hand-raised green cheek. He’s one of the “gang” now and when he’s in distress from a loud movie or an unknown noise, he flies immediately to me for comfort. This is the kind of interaction that made those two years of work worth it. It’s amazing, to me, to see how far he’s come. To see how much he trusts me. To know that he accepts me as his protector. That’s not something that can be bought.

Another parrot of mine was given wine on a regular basis. His last owner thought it was funny to see him drunk. She fed him seeds for 17 years of his life. He came to me with two bacterial infections, a respiratory infection, and fatty liver disease. It cost me in the ballpark of $1,000 worth of vet trips to get him stable. He would pluck himself bald. He even, on occasion, would mutilate himself. He came to me with a bite so hard and a hatred so deep that I thought he would be a lost cause. I remember once, when he bit me, the pain was so red-hot and intense that I threw him just to get him off of me. I know that was wrong. I know I could have hurt him severely. I know I was no better than the person who had abused him. But wow, did that hurt!

He took a few months of work and training and excess caution. I was terrified of him. He was terrified of me. He would chase my brother with the intention of destroying him. He wanted us eliminated. He wanted us to be punished for every time he could not fight back before. And now he’s a delightful handful of cuddles and clinginess. He has to wear a sweater that I replace frequently because we’re still working on the plucking, but his aggression has stopped. I trust him enough now to clip his toenails and he trusts me enough now to let me.

This post isn’t meant to be a promise. I can’t promise you that every rescue will turn out how you want them to. But every rescue has potential. Every life is worth rescuing. And those that realize what you’ve done for them will never, ever, let you forget it. They demonstrate their gratefulness every time they make new progress. Every time they step up for you when they didn’t once before. Every time they take a treat from your hand without giving you a bite in exchange.

So please, make this a consideration before you choose a buy a pet. There are so many in need of a good home. And there’s a huge support network out there for all kinds of animals: reptiles, parrots, rodents, everything. You don’t have to go through the process alone.

My little rescue. ❤