Have you ever wondered where all the birds at Parrot Outreach Society come from? Or how we pay to care for our birds? Why we ask an adoption fee and for a donation when relinquishing a bird to our care. I can answer these questions for you here.
The birds in our care come from families who can no longer care for them for one reason or another. Many come from older people who physically cannot keep cages clean and the other physical demands that our birds place on us. Some people find themselves with drastically reduced income in old age and cannot afford to properly care for their birds. They may have to move to an apartment due to their health or financial status. Some people develop lung issues that cause them to have to give up their birds. Some people simply die without having made arrangements for their birds or leave them to us in their will. Yes, we do get birds from neglect and abuse cases and confiscation by law enforcement but those are far fewer than the other reasons listed, that is another article waiting to be written. Sometimes young families bring in their birds because they have been unsuccessful at integrating new babies into their life with parrots. There are birds who were bought on impulse where no education or prior learning was done, they just purchase the bird without knowing how much work they are and that birds are loud, messy and destructive or that they have long life expectancies, oh yeah, and they bite. Some of our birds have been abandoned when people move out of a rental home and the property owner will bring the bird in. As you can see our birds come from many places and people, for many different reasons.
Now for the how do we pay to care for them part. For starters, we are a 100% volunteer organization, meaning we have no paid employees. Our goal is to remain 100% volunteer as long as possible. As you may know, we have a large retail area where we sell everything bird, toys, perches, play stands, cages and food and treats. All proceeds from our retail area go back to caring for the birds. Let me add here, we have the best prices in town! We also receive donations from individuals who like the work we do and from families who relinquish their birds to our care. We have fundraisers such as Facebook auctions, raffles, yard sales, concerts and other creative events. We apply for and are awarded grants and are fortunate that we can participate in The Giving Challenge provided by the Patterson Foundation in conjunction with Sarasota Community Foundation. We also get in-kind donations from our supporters, like perches, used cages, etc.
We get large intakes, 180 Budgies, 44 large and small parrot mix, 150 Finches and the list goes on. We do not take birds that we don’t have room for, meaning good condition and appropriate size cages, toys, perches and food. We also do not take birds that we do not have the money to provide for vet care. Donations are awesome, they help keep us going but they are not guaranteed. It would be very irresponsible for us to take on birds knowing we do not have the money to care for and support them, as well as the space needed to house them safely. All that being said, we do understand there are emergencies and exceptions to every rule. Our business/rescue model is self-sustaining and relies on donations. We have prepared for the worst. If you have to relinquish your bird to us you can rest assured that we have the help/volunteers, the money and the space to care for him or her properly until a new home is found. As I said, donations are AWESOME if you can make one after reading this it would be greatly appreciated!
You may wonder why we ask for an adoption fee when you adopt a bird, we get them for free right? The answer is, no we do not pay for birds or buy birds, however, there is no such thing as a free bird. When a bird is relinquished to us they automatically start 30 days of quarantine
to ensure they are healthy, that means we are paying for that bird’s care for 30 days, approximately $30 for a small bird, $50 for a medium size bird or $75 for a large bird. A relinquished bird is tested for PBFD, Polyoma, Chlamydia and Pachecos disease during quarantine. These 4 tests alone cost $70 per bird but are of utmost importance as all of these can kill an entire flock. Our vet comes to our facility to do exams on our birds and gives us a discounted rate but it is not free. Once this is all completed the bird goes into the general population and is available for adoption. Some very lucky birds get adopted in the first or second week of being available, some spend a few months with us, mind you their care is all coming out of our budget for each and every day they are with us. Here is an example of why we ask for an adoption fee, we take in a Parakeet, feed it for 60 days, provide it with toys, perches and enrichment as well as fresh vegetables and fruit daily. We have paid approximately $130 for this little one’s care, his adoption fee is $10, so we are in the hole $120 already and as you can imagine, caring for a large bird far exceeds this cost. This is where your donation and proceeds from our retail area come into play and how it helps us to care for the birds. Remember, we are 100% volunteer, no one gets paid, so all incoming money goes to care for the birds. We have to pay rent to house the birds, $2900, as well as electric, $700 in summer, to keep the lights on and the air cool. We also pay for internet service to run our cash register system and security cameras, another $130. Our food bill alone is $1500 per month just for pellet. Fortunately, most all of the fresh fruits and vegetables are provided by our volunteers or members of the public. Newspaper is donated to cover the cage bottoms. All of our cleaning supplies are also donated by the volunteers/Board members.
We do fundraisers throughout the year to help pay all of these expenses as well. So, when you see an auction or raffle please participate because as little as $5 can make a difference! We also do free grooming for your bird with only the request of a donation of your choice to our parrot bank. We also have an Amazon Wish List that you can use to purchase bird items and have them shipped directly to our facility. Can’t afford to donate, that’s okay too! Go to Great Nonprofits and leave a good rating, when you shop on Amazon, sign in through Amazon.Smile.com, it is free, choose us as your charity and we receive a % of your purchase total from Amazon. Tell friends about our facility. Drop off newspaper at the facility or come in and volunteer, there are many different kinds of opportunities. There are also professional services that we could really use if you are willing to work pro bono, such as an architect to help with our plans to build a facility, a realtor who will keep an eye out for property that is reasonably affordable, etc
So, stop by, see what we do and join in the fun to help the birds! No job or donation is too small!