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Update On The Bird Hoarding Case In Texas


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#1 jujusaffiemom

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:20 PM

Wednesday, Feb. 04, 2009
Judge awards birds to city
By Terry Evans
tevans@star-telegram.com

Mother and child macaws could be used in city programs.


Weatherford/Parker County Animal Shelter was awarded custody Jan. 27 of 88 birds seized Jan. 13 from John Dennett.

Appearing before Municipal Judge Ben Sasin, Dennnett, 46, sat at the far end of a table facing prosecuting attorney Kathy Zellers.

Representing himself, Dennett listened as Zellers presented a list of mostly exotic birds and photos of the conditions in which those birds were living at 111 Seventh St. His only objection to the evidence was that the list was inaccurate.

"Whoever made this list doesnít know what theyíre talking about," he said.

To the photographs, however, Dennettís response was mumbled. Sasin allowed the list and photos to be entered into evidence.

Zellers called Animal Control Officer Tammy Wright and Animal Shelter Supervisor Diane Daniel as witnesses.

Wright and Daniel, who took the photographs, testified that Dennettís house was, with the exception of a bedroom, in deplorable condition. Floors were covered with bird feces and contaminated food as much as 11 inches deep in places.

They added that the house was suffocatingly hot.

The women said that a number of gas space heaters and the cook stove were burning, and that combined with the heavy amonia smell from the bird droppings the air was almost unbreathable.

Wright, who has exotic birds of her own, explained that such conditions create an environment in which diseases may develop that not only are deadly to birds, but also may be transmitted to humans.

Compounding the problem was the fact that Dennett had almost 90 birds in a house that officials said was 1,040 square feet. Dennett argued that his house is 1,800 square feet, but the point seemed moot.

At its basis, the cruelty complaint against Dennett was that he simply had far more birds than he possibly could care for. Most people, Wright said, find that one macaw is a challenge. There were eight macaws in Dennettís home.

Daniel testified that many water and food dishes in cages, most of which contained more than one bird, were contaminated by feces. Wright said that it is imperative that fresh food and water be provided daily to these kinds of birds.

Wright said that she and other animal control officers had monitored Dennettís case since their first encounter two years ago. She said that Dennett was warned then that he had an unlawful accumulation of exotic birds and needed to find homes for many of them.

Instead of doing so, Dennett continued to advertise himself on the Internet as a nonprofit bird rescue organization, Wright said, and continued to accumulate exotic birds.

During cross-examination, Dennett asked Wright why the city didnít take some of the birds during the initial contact, as he asked. Wright adamantly denied that the man had made any such request.

Dennett called his wife, Theresa Dennett, as a witness and tried to refute some of the testimony.

"Were those birds fed and watered every day?" he asked.

"Yes, food and water were changed every day when I came home from work," she said.

Theresa Dennett also testified that her husband was unable to work or do much around the house, because he had broken his back. She said it was her responsibility to clean the cages and take care of the house.

She also said that the birds were never mistreated, and that some of them were "like children" to her and her husband. On the verge of breaking into tears she told Sasin that she wanted only a few of the birds back.

After Zellers finished cross-examination, Theresa Dennett hurriedly left the courtroom and sat on a bench in the City Hall foyer, with her head in her hands, for the balance of the hearing.

Zellers asked Sasin not only to award custody of the birds to the city, but also to assess to Dennett the cityís expenses, beginning with costs incurred during the seizure and including food and veterinary care since then.

Dennett told Sasin that he could not pay the assessment.

"I donít have a job, canít work, backís messed up," he said. "I canít pay anything, just take me to jail if Iím assessed anything."

Passing judgment, Sasin said it was the courtís goal to take care of the birds.

"The court finds the defendant guilty of cruelty to these birds and remands the animals to the custody of the animal shelter," he said.

Sasin added that Dennett would be responsible for reimbursing the city.

Dennett also was charged with several code violations.

A group of animal control and shelter employees who sat with Daniel and Wright through the hearing left with them after the judgeís decision.

They met immediately in City Manager Jerry Blaisdellís office to discuss the birdsí future.

Daniel said the birds will be kept in quarantine for at least two weeks before anything is done with them.

Some may be adopted out, some sent to rescue groups that city employees confirm as genuine nonprofit organizations.

Blaisdell said that many of the birds are worth thousands of dollars in the retail pet trade, so they would not be subject to standard adoption protocol.

"We donít want people adopting these birds just so they can turn a profit," he said. "Weíre looking at adoptions; but weíre talking about auctions with minimum bids."

Blaisdell added that he would like to see the city keep some of the birds for educational programs. Many of them are talented and gentle enough to be taken into classrooms.

There was talk of building an aviary at the animal shelter.

But Daniel said one thing is certain: none of the birds will be going anywhere until about Valentineís Day.


#2 jujusaffiemom

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:31 PM

what is sad is the shelter or the newspaper don't know what kind of birds they have there is a picture of an officer holding a caique and the caption says holding one of the many conures.I sent the reporter an email letting him know his mistake.lol

#3 Carrie~Anne

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:50 PM

I think this situation is really unfortunate. Some of us know how easily it is to get in over our heads with too many birds. Or think we're doing just fine and then become sick and suddenly we're overwhelmed. I don't necessarily believe this person is a bad person. Perhaps his intentions were good, but wasn't able to follow through as he had originally planned. It's obvious he wasn't out to make any money on the birds, and from what the article says about many of them being friendly, means that they did receive some decent care.

What I think is a shame is that they have known of this situation for 2 years and it took them that long to do anything about it. Why haven't they been in contact with this fellow more and tried to help him, rather then throw him under the bus?

Anyways, let's hope the birds get into good, quality care now.

#4 equineRtist

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:15 PM

I agree with Carrie Anne. Why on earth did it take two years to do anything? and then what they did was not FOR the birds, it was AGAINST the man.
The man loved those birds enough to have some gentle ones, he just got overwhelmed. If he didn't like birds, they'd have never been there in the first place. I should have been his lawyer!
In the TWO YEARS they spent doing nothing, they could have helped him sort them out at a lot less expense than just taking the birds.
Why do I believe the birds are far smarter than the people who took them? rolleyes.gif

#5 jujusaffiemom

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 08:01 AM

QUOTE (equineRtist @ Feb 4 2009, 09:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree with Carrie Anne. Why on earth did it take two years to do anything? and then what they did was not FOR the birds, it was AGAINST the man.
The man loved those birds enough to have some gentle ones, he just got overwhelmed. If he didn't like birds, they'd have never been there in the first place. I should have been his lawyer!
In the TWO YEARS they spent doing nothing, they could have helped him sort them out at a lot less expense than just taking the birds.
Why do I believe the birds are far smarter than the people who took them? rolleyes.gif

Bwcause I think the birdss are smarter than the judge.I don't agree with the auction thing at all.I think they could have also given him a few of them back enough that they could manage to take care of.

#6 mommy4syd

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 08:48 AM

I can not believe they are going to auction these poor birds off, they should be placed in other rescues that KNOW what to look for in homes. UGH this is pitiful (I keep thinking the old saying from the frying pan to the fire)

#7 PHENOMENON

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 09:15 AM

QUOTE (mommy4syd @ Feb 5 2009, 08:48 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I can not believe they are going to auction these poor birds off, they should be placed in other rescues that KNOW what to look for in homes. UGH this is pitiful (I keep thinking the old saying from the frying pan to the fire)


I totally agree!

I also think that if they are going to auction off some of the birds, that it should be used against the sum that they assessed against the man.

To me, it appears that the birds were decently cared for...there were just too many of them, he may eventually have given some away..but I saw how they were all living peacefully together.

There were no reports of injuries to the birds or illnesses (yet). So I think they jumped the gun. They could have worked WITH the man and educated him on the dangers of the environment and helped him place some of the birds for adoptions.

I think they just got greedy.


#8 jujusaffiemom

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 09:48 AM

I just dont understand why they didnt leave him a few that he could manage.Another article said that he is getting the mental help that he needs.

#9 am0z

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 11:52 AM

Read the subtext of their comments "Some of these birds are valuablew, and if anyone is going to make a profit, it's gonna be us" The biggest problem with bird adoptions is that usually it is about the same as getting a bird from a shop. What's the point of adopting a bird that is gonna need more special care, when you can get a perfectly socialized and healthy one for about the same price. Don't get me wrong all of my birds where birds that were in desperate need of a home, and I don't purchase from shops, but most rescues charge ridiculous prices for their birds! Is it the care of the bird they're after or the lining of the stomach they affectionately call their budget... Either way I guess I know where I'll be "around" valentine's day.

#10 GeorgiaOnMyMind

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 06:32 PM

I think it was reasonable not to give him any of the birds back. For people with hoarding disorders, often times even after they have been arrested and the animals removed, sometimes several times, they still continue to accumulate.

Like Carrie Anne, I don't believe this makes him a bad person, but that also doesn't mean that he should be allowed to have birds.

Some of those conditions were truly truly deplorable (eleven inches of filth!) and most people recognize when they are in over heads and then do something about it. The problem with hoarding is that is a psychological condition and people block out the reality. But reality IS reality, and the birds couldn't block it out.

Also, I do have to say, it sounds like the vast majority of the birds are going to rescues to be adopted adopted out. I mean, I got the impression that applications and such would required.

Overall, it is an unfortunate situation, but I'm just glad that the birds are being cared for.


The one concern mentioned I TOTALLY agree about is the two year issue. I suppose it took them that long to build a case or something, but how sad for everyone involved!

#11 tjbird

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 12:29 AM

It seems to me that they could have let him keep a few and monitored their care.

huh.gif

#12 Xcali

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:35 AM

Oh .. don't even get me started on the whole "bird rescue" places!!

There are two near me .. I've been to both. What they are asking for adoption fees is absolutely insane!! When I was looking to add another Quaker .. the rescue was the first place I looked. They had 3 Quakers .. none tame .. and wanted $250 adoption fee .. WHAT???????? I could go to a breeder and get a tame, sweet, hand fed baby for that .. if not less.

Now I understand they need funds to keep the places running .. I have no problem with that, but making the birds more expensive to adopt than to buy seems to be counter productive. I just saw they added two Caiques .. and when I inquired to the adoption fee ... get this .. $900!!! Now, these two Caiques have just arrived .. so they haven't really had to invest much into them at this point .. so why a $900 adoption fee??

Not to mention .. the forms and applications and requirements are crazy. I had to fill out almost 10 pages of questions .. about my lifestyle, my income, my families habits, pets I've owned .. etc. ... etc.. I understand they want to be sure they are going to good homes .. but seriously .. I didn't go thru that much interrogation when I purchase my home, nor when I recently adopted a dog from a shelter.

Sometimes I wonder if these bird rescues are just a cover "bird hoarder", cause the two in my area.. well .. they don't seem to interest in letting their birds go at all. They'll take your donations, get their non profit status .. but never really adopt out a bird.

I've been watching the website for the rescue that's closest to me .. and the birds who were listed there a year ago .. well, just about all are still there (the 'tiels and parakeets they seem to let go of, but not the bigger birds), plus more additions. Hmmmmmm?????????????????


QUOTE (am0z @ Feb 5 2009, 10:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Read the subtext of their comments "Some of these birds are valuablew, and if anyone is going to make a profit, it's gonna be us" The biggest problem with bird adoptions is that usually it is about the same as getting a bird from a shop. What's the point of adopting a bird that is gonna need more special care, when you can get a perfectly socialized and healthy one for about the same price. Don't get me wrong all of my birds where birds that were in desperate need of a home, and I don't purchase from shops, but most rescues charge ridiculous prices for their birds! Is it the care of the bird they're after or the lining of the stomach they affectionately call their budget... Either way I guess I know where I'll be "around" valentine's day.



#13 jujusaffiemom

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 09:00 AM

welli looked at the city ordinence and people are only allowed 5 pets and that included birds. So why did the ACO ley him get away with having that many birds for 2 years.
Makes no sense to me.