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Pet rescues not just for dogs

Brewster conure recently came H.A.P.P. E. Parrot Rescue Bolingbrook after his owner complained he was too loud. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Brewster, a conure, recently came to H.A.P.P. E. Parrot Rescue in Bolingbrook after his owner complained he was too loud. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Updated: January 5, 2013 6:13AM



Do you believe pet rescue is for the birds?

Then contact Helping with the Placement and Adoption of Parrots Everywhere Parrot Rescue in Bolingbrook.

Founder Kathy Forst is seeking volunteer foster parents to join the rescue’s team of existing nine foster parents — all licensed by the state of Illinois’ Department of Agriculture — and she hopes you fit the bill, too.

“Right now I have a cute little conure that needs a home,” Forst said. “Brewster came to me a week ago because he was dumped at our veterinary’s office; his owner claimed he was too loud. Well, conures are loud. People don’t realize what they are getting into when they impulse buy.”

No experience with feathered friends? Not a problem. Forst’s foster training includes cage cleaning, nutritional instruction per species, handling behavioral issues (screaming, biting and feather picking), bathing, the proper way to dispense medication and dispelling inaccurate information about these high-maintenance pets.

“I educate them on what to expect,” Forst said. “A lot of people have their own ideas about birds. Those ideas might work in the short run, but eventually the birds get stressed and sick and start losing their feathers.”

Because domesticated birds fly less than their outdoor counterparts do, they require a diet of specially formulated pellets. Bird seed contains far too much fat, which can lead to fatty liver disease. Afflicted birds may lose their appetites and balance, struggle to breathe and experience muscle tremors and seizures. Unfortunately, the first symptom is often sudden death.

Resist the temptation to allow your bird to fly outside, even under watchful supervision. The biggest risk is not that your bird will fly away but predators.

“A friend was outside with her bird when a hawk swooped down and carried it off,” Forst said.

Proper veterinarian care is a must. All rescued birds are screened for a variety of maladies, such as avian influenza virus (AIV) — a viral infection — and psittacine beak and feather disease. Polyomavirus is deadly to young birds. Psittacosis, caused by caused by bacteria of the Chlamydia family, often occurs when parrots live in dirty, confined spaces. Parrots can transmit psittacosis to humans.

“People will feel as if they have a bad cold,” Forst said, “but if your immune system is compromised, it can cause death.”

Forst is also working with two special-needs parrots. Claude, a 20-year-old male eclectus, had surgery in August and is missing most of his feathers. Mohawk, a blue crowned conure and also 20, lost all her toenails and all but one toe on her right foot when a larger bird chewed it up.

Forst, a parrot owner since 1978, began the non-profit rescue in 2007. Because both Forst’s husband and son are pilots and available to transport the birds, adoptive parents can live anywhere in the United States. Forst’s biggest expense is veterinary care. She usually spends about $15,000 each year.

So in addition to donations and adoption fees, Forst supports her work though cleaning and selling molted feathers. Feather donations are welcomed. Fishermen use Forst’s feathers as lures. Crafters apply them to headdresses and costumes.

“I have clients everywhere, some as far as New Zealand,” Forst said.

Contact H.A.P.P.E. Parrot Rescue at 630-759-7363 or www.happeparrotsrescue.com.



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