The son of an animal hoarder dropped off nearly 500 parakeets to a southeast Michigan rescue shelter shortly before Christmas, and plans to return later with at least 50 more birds.
Kelley LeBonty, director of the Detroit Animal Welfare Group, which operates a shelter on a 25-acre farm in Macomb County’s Bruce Township, said in an interview Saturday that the son called to say he was coming to surrender 60 to 80 parakeets that were at his father’s house.
But when the son arrived at the shelter late Thursday night, he actually had 497 parakeets in his pickup.
“He had them all in seven cages,” LeBonty said. “A very tight fit. They were kind of on top of each other and smothering each other. … They were very very stressed. They were barely moving. We had to get them out and into different cages.”
The son said his father kept the birds in the cages in one room of his house, and had been spending $1,200 a month to feed the birds, LeBonty said.
“His son said that he just wanted to breed a few of them, and it got out of control,” LeBonty said. “The problem is birds breed easily. And then you just have more babies and more babies and more babies if you don’t control the situation.”
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While some of the parakeets appear to be healthy, others have foot problems and eye problems.
“They haven’t seen a vet yet because obviously it is Christmas, but definitely some of them are pretty sick,” she said.
Another Romeo-area animal rescue group took about 220 of the parakeets, she said, and other groups are coming Sunday to take in more. The parakeets’ health will be monitored for two to four weeks before they are eligible for adoption.
LeBonty said Detroit Animal Welfare Group is lucky that someone last month donated four large bags of parakeet food.
“I said, ‘We don’t get that many parakeets, I don’t know if I need that food,’ ” she recalled. “But I took it, and here we are. So I guess it was meant to be.”
The total number of rescued parakeets could soon exceed 500.
According to LeBonty, the son said that he planned to return to the shelter after Christmas with more parakeets from his father’s home.
“He said around 50,” LeBonty said. “But before he told me 60 (parakeets), and he came in with about 500.”
While law enforcement often gets involved in severe animal hoarding cases, particularly those involving cats or dogs, LeBonty said her group has not contacted authorities about the father’s parakeets. She declined to identify the city or township where the father lives.
“They reached out to us for help, and that’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “Now these birds can be in a proper home and get the care they need.”
The shelter is in need of food and other supplies to care for the birds.To donate, or to inquire about adoption once the birds are ready, go to: facebook.com/DetroitAnimalWelfareGroup.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Hoarder’s son drops off 500 parakeets at shelter before Christmas