An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Two

December 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

This entry is the second installation in a short series on what it means to have an ethical and safe bird store policy.  To read the introduction and part one, click here.

The second aspect of my policy is safety in terms of spreading avian diseases.  While this sounds harmless enough, it actually limits the market quite a bit, far more than part one.  When people ask me why I do not shop with a certain vendor, this is usually the most common reason, and most people always say that they hadn’t even thought to ask.  There are so, so many vendors that are not bird-free.  This one is always such an interesting one to me because so many people seem hyper-cognizant of disease– to the point where they won’t even take their parrots to the vet for fear of it– yet they are reckless in terms of where they shop and the risk of exposure to other parrots.  We should never forget that a ton of bird store owners are also bird owners.  They love and own birds, and that’s what inspired them to open their own stores.  That’s okay.  In fact, like I said in the last installment, if you don’t know anything about parrots, you shouldn’t be in the parrot product business.  I love knowing that the person who designed and made a product for my parrots is a fellow parrot lover.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.  If you are a parrot lover, you know that the spread of avian disease is a huge risk and problem.  I personally believe that it is the responsibility of a parrot lover to ensure that she does all that she can to protect not only her own parrots but also the parrots of others.  This means creating bird products in a separate air space from your own birds and doing all that you can to make sure that there is no cross contamination between your products and your own birds.

Is this system perfect?  Unless you’re changing your clothes and showering every time you go to and from work as well, of course not.  But this is definitely the safer and more prudent thing to do.  The likelihood of bird germs or feather dust remaining on your clothing is far less after you’ve traveled from your home to a different place than it is if you just move from one room to another in your own home (or worse yet, the same room!).  I am always surprised when I see just how many bird store owners don’t even think about this.  I’ve emailed vendors before about where they make their toys and having a bird-free space, and have gotten responses back that these owners not only make them in the same room as their birds, but even let their birds test out the products and play on them prior to sending them out.  It’s really quite scary to me.

Are there any home-based stores that I support?  Yes, actually.  There are a select few that you might have noticed.  But aside from the fact that I am incredibly careful about the products I receive from them– in fact, I actually quarantine a lot of them, and of course do a full disinfection– the home-based stores I choose to support are also incredibly careful themselves.  These are not the kind of people who have a bird on their arm while they’re wielding a saw to make your bird toy (unsafe in two ways!).  But they have their bird toy rooms in a separate part of the home, with carefully closed doors, heavy duty air purifiers, and everything covered in plastic bins.  They are careful to change their own clothes and very aware of the risk of cross contamination.  There is still a level of risk, but it is minimized through certain measures.

Some bird store owners don’t even bother to do that, and that really bothers me.  Like I said, if you are in parrots, you know that the risk of spreading disease is huge, and I feel that it is each parrot owner’s responsibility to decrease this risk.  To knowingly propagate the spread of avian disease is irresponsible, unsafe, and unethical.  Some owners might say that they know that their own birds are healthy– but how can we know really?  No matter what we do to avoid it– great diet, healthy habits, air purifiers, vet checks– our birds can still get sick, and because they are so good at hiding it, we might not notice it right away.  Are you as a shop owner going to cancel all of your recent orders because you just realized your parrot got sick, disappoint all of your customers, and return a lot of cash flow?  Probably not.  Would you even tell your customers if one of your birds was sick and risk hurting the reputation of your business?  Probably not.

I so strongly urge all of us as parrot owners to be more cognizant of where we shop and where the products we purchase are made.  I know that there is a lot of trust on forums or of public figures in the bird industry, but remember, even the “best” bird owner’s birds can get sick from time to time.  Always ask first before you buy, assess the level of risk that you are personally comfortable with, and save yourself potential regret in the future.

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