Some people are just born lucky. Others, like Julie Burge, DVM, work like crazy to make their own luck.
In 2011, Burge Bird Rescue, with help from its devoted clients and fans, won the Pepsi Refresh Everything prize of $25,000, which was used to build a 16 by 53 foot addition to the Burge Bird Services veterinary hospital in order to house birds available for adoption. A year or so later the rescue won a $10,000 grant in the Chase Community Giving Contest to upgrade their fire-suppression system in order to protect the animals.
In 2015, they received a grant from a private foundation for $20,000 toward their new Sanctuary Room building fund and a year? worth of ZuPreem food for the birds. The following latest prizes will also go toward funding a new room addition to house retired breeding parrots (they just need $14,000 more, if you?e in the mood for giving): $1,000 from the Blue Springs Ford Helping Others Project, $300 from RescueMe.Org, and $500 from Glendale Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.
The new rescue room at Budge Bird Rescue.
Burge Bird Rescue, just outside Kansas City, Missouri, certainly needs that new room addition. Burge recently posted on her Facebook page that “In 2014 alone, the rescue took in 217 birds. These included 33 ?utside?birds like pigeons and ducks, 137 small birds from finches to cockatiels, and 47 parrots from conures to macaws. 196 birds were adopted, none were transferred to other rescues, and 18 died or were so sick they had to be euthanized, because we take in a large number of birds with sometimes life-threatening medical issues in an attempt to save them when the owners can’t or won’t pay for their care.?
Burge set up her 100 percent avian veterinary practice, Burge Bird Services, outside Kansas City, Missouri in 1990. The practice offers everything from grooming and boarding to complex medical and surgical case management.
“As an avian veterinarian, I was often asked to help people who could no longer keep their bird, or in some cases they could not afford extensive medical or surgical care for their pet.?Burge said. “I did not want to see these birds turned loose, euthanized, left to suffer and die, or be passed along to a poor quality home. So I started taking in birds, addressing their health care needs, and helping them find forever homes.?Status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue soon followed.
When asked about some of the challenges the rescue faces, Burge said, “Many people are unaware of the existence of bird rescue organizations, and will turn to Craigslist to find new homes for their unwanted birds. They may not understand that some of these birds will end up in terrible living conditions with people who just wanted an exotic pet that was really cheap. These birds will pass from home to home for decades.?lt;/span>
Anyone who adopts a bird from the rescue receives counseling and handouts regarding proper care of their new bird, and is educated about the affiliated veterinary practice in case their bird has any future medical needs.
Burge Bird Rescue? online resources are always evolving. Between the rescue and the veterinary websites they offer information on things like household hazards, feather-damaging behavior (FBD or feather picking), handling emergencies, and proper care of pet birds of many different species. On their Facebook page they frequently post the “Avian Medical Case of the Day,?which can be anything from removing a chunk of a wooden toy from the roof of a cockatoo? mouth to a random well-deserved rant. Often there are pictures of incisions or injuries that are not for the faint-hearted.
An issue dear to Burge? heart is stopping the sale of baby chicks and ducks (and bunnies, too) as Easter pets for children. “Parents are often told that they can turn these animals loose when they get tired of cleaning up after them, but the reality is the vast majority of them will die as they cannot take care of themselves in the wild,?Burge said. “We started a petition that gathered over 25,000 signatures asking farm supply stores to stop selling these babies as pets. But despite their claims to the contrary their employees continue to give out misinformation.?lt;/span>
“We have posted extensively in social media and in other popular websites and media outlets trying to educate the public, and advertise that we will take in unwanted babies at any time. Next year we hope to do protests outside of stores and gain the attention of the broadcast media to help stop this horrific practice.?lt;/span>
If you?e interested in becoming involved in Burge Bird Rescue, Burge says, “We are always happy to have volunteers who can come in and play with the birds! The employees are busy with feeding and cleaning, and they need people who have time to just give these babies some love.?lt;/span>
Want to check out other bird rescues?