Rescued Parakeets Total 836 After Son of Animal Hoarder Surrenders More


DETROIT — The son of an animal hoarder dropped off hundreds more parakeets this week to a Macomb County rescue shelter, bringing the total number of surrendered birds from the hoarder's house to 836.

Although a few parakeets were crushed to death in their crowded cages during transport, all of the survivors are now in the custody of four southeast Michigan pet rescue groups, which plan to offer the birds for adoption in the next two to four weeks.

The son delivered an initial batch of 497 parakeets to the Detroit Animal Welfare Group's rural shelter in Bruce Township on Dec. 23. On Sunday, the day after Christmas, he returned with an additional 339 parakeets, said Kelley LeBonty, director of the Detroit Animal Welfare Group.

The son's father apparently intended to breed just a few parakeets, but allowed the situation to grow out of control.

The birds were crammed into a small number of cages when they arrived at the shelter in the son's pickup. They cages were packed so tight, the birds could barely move.

"All he said was his dad had mental illness, and (the son) had moved out and he hadn’t been back in a while," LeBonty said in an interview Wednesday. "And when he went back, he saw (the hoarding) and obviously knew it was a problem, and reached out to us right away to try and get control of the situation.”

JoJo’s Flying Friends, a bird pet shop in Washington Township, accepted 210 of the parakeets from the Detroit Animal Welfare Group. The shop quickly separated the males and females to prevent any more breeding.

Anne Jewett, the shop's co-owner, recalled Wednesday how when the birds arrived, many of them were underweight, some were injured and missing feathers, and others' feet were covered in feces.

Sadly, a few parakeets were crushed to death during the journey from the hoarder's house to the various rescue groups, she said.

“When I was pulling them out, some of them were trampled, meaning they didn’t make it because there were so many in one cage. So unfortunately we did lose some because of that," Jewett said. "And then as we were pulling them out, because they were in a breeding situation, they were just laying eggs in there as we were pulling them out.”

Jewett said about 20 of the baby birds are now being hand fed and kept in special heated cages.

The rescue groups have received food and toy donations as well as money for veterinary bills since the parakeets' story went national. They also have been fielding many adoption inquiries for when the birds are out of their precautionary quarantine.

LeBonty of Detroit Animal Welfare Group emphasized that people considering adopting one of the birds should be aware that they are different from the parakeets typically found at pet shops.

“One concern is these birds are not hand raised," she said. "A lot of people when they adopt a bird want a very friendly bird that they can hold, and these are going to be more on the wild side. They are not tamed, hand-raised birds. They are fearful of people. So people have to understand that.

"It will take time for them to work with (the birds) on a regular basis to make them more of a pet."

The four groups currently caring for the parakeets are Detroit Animal Welfare Group, JoJo's Flying Friends, Birds and Beaks Rescue and Rehab and East Michigan Bird Rescue.