Written by Alisa Mullins
Ray is a beautiful white-and-gray fantail
pigeon who was seized along with dozens of other pigeons by animal control
officers because of neglect. He had an infected eye and was in poor health, but
the woman who had alerted authorities to the birds' plight convinced them to
let her adopt him. Unfortunately, she was ill-equipped to care for Ray (she
didn't know what sex he was and called him "Rachel") and put him in a
dog crate in her basement, where he stayed for the next four years. He was prevented from flying and never received any treatment for his eye infection.
Finally, the woman grew tired of him and
contacted PETA. We arranged for Ray to be driven from Virginia to the Wild Bird
Fund, a wonderful wildlife rehabilitation facility in New York City, where he
immediately began receiving treatment for his eye and other medical conditions.
He now lives in a spacious aviary in upstate New York, where he can fly and be
friends with other birds for the first time in years.
Ray quickly attracted the attention of another
rescued pigeon, which is no surprise, considering how handsome he is. His new
family writes, "From the moment Ray arrived, Bently had her eye on him.
After Ray chose a nest box, Bently picked a nest box right above him and then
would sneak into Ray's box when he was out and about. At first, Ray did not
want anything to do with Bently: He would peck and wing-slap her to get her out
of his box. This did not deter Bently at all—she pecked right back, and after a
few days, it was love!"
What You Can Do
Pigeon racers use the devotion of birds like Ray and Bently against them and force birds to
fly hundreds of miles to return to their mates. More than 60 percent of birds die
or are lost in such races. Thousands of dollars may be bet on races, generating
millions annually in illegal gambling proceeds. You
can help by contacting U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder and urging him to take action to stop cruel and unlawful
Written by Jeff Mackey
investigation into the cruel pigeon-racing
racket spanned many states and revealed rampant illegal gambling, in violation of
state and federal laws—including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and felony gambling and tax laws—with stakes of $200,000 or more per race. One
of those states was Oklahoma, and as a result of the criminal investigation that followed, the Oklahoma City district attorney has charged three race organizers—including the executive director of the American Racing Pigeon Union—with felony
commercial gambling and conspiracy to violate the state's anti–commercial gambling act.
Until PETA's investigation broke, the shadier aspects of
pigeon racing had attracted little attention, but it's a blood sport that deserves to be as condemned as cockfighting or dogsled racing. In a
typical race, 60 percent of the birds will never make it back to their lofts and
mates because of extreme weather, predators, electric lines, foul play, and
Out of more than 1,500 baby pigeons shipped to Oklahoma City
for just one event attended by the investigators, the 2010 American Racing
Pigeon Union race, a little more than 1,000 birds survived training. Of those
thousand birds entered into the final race, a mere 420
made it back from Arkansas by nightfall—and many of those who returned still
likely had their necks wrung if they failed to finish "in the money."
As one pigeon racer told investigators, when starting out in pigeon racing,
"The first thing you have to learn—how to kill pigeons."
There's nothing sporting about forcing animals to risk—and
often lose—their lives so that someone can win a prize, a title, or some money.
Please never attend or support these sadistic blood sports, and if you witness
cruelty, never be silent.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
miss a thing: Follow PETA
Kick off your weekend with Anti-Flag. The outspoken punk band is never silent—especially
about injustice. They share their advice on how to "never be silent"
again, animal rights activists in China have rescued a truck full of dogs who were on their way to
KFC was ordered to give $8.3 million to the family of a girl who was left severely brain damaged after eating at one
of its restaurants, but the chain doesn't want to pay up.
A front group for animal abusers is distorting PETA's
euthanasia statistics in order to mislead people about our work. Here's the truth.
more than 60 percent of the animals used in it? PETA's investigation may surprise you.
investigation of pigeon racing uncovered not only massive bird casualties but
also abuse and a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling ring. Urge the U.S. attorney general
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Written by PETA
Mike Tyson would have viewers of his new show, Taking On Tyson, believe that pigeon racers don't think of the birds as "inventory." But a long-time wildlife rehabilitator who has seen the victims firsthand begs to differ.
In an e-mail to PETA, she told us about rehabilitating a thin and injured pigeon who, judging from his wounds, appeared to have barely escaped a hawk. Because the bird was wearing a band, she was able to track down the bird's owner, who told her to put the bird in a tube and ship him back. Of course, she refused to do so. Another racer she contacted about a banded bird told her to just "wring its neck" and that the birds are "a dime a dozen."
PETA recently demonstrated outside Tyson's Las Vegas home to let people know that pigeons do suffer when forced to fly hundreds of miles in all weather extremes.
Many don't make it home. The American Racing Pigeon Union disclosed that at a 2010 race in Oklahoma City, more than 800 pigeons—60 percent of the total number entered—did not return from training flights or the race itself.
Please tell Animal Planet that animals should not have to pay with their lives for someone's hobby.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
"Ready …Set …Um, never mind …"
It seems quite possible that Animal Planet's upcoming reality series starring Mike Tyson might be knocked out of production. (Join us in our sorrow—not.) PETA has identified what might be a fatal flaw in the very premise of Taking on Tyson, which is scheduled to begin filming in Brooklyn next month. See, while pigeon racing is cruel to birds no matter where it takes place, in New York state it's also very likely illegal.
Our letter to Charles J. Hynes, Kings County district attorney, points out that gambling is generally prohibited in New York state—as are races using animals other than horses in which any bet, stake, or reward is involved. Translation: When it comes to racing pigeons in Brooklyn, all bets are off possibly illegal. What's more, trainers are prohibited from making money off such races, and this rule might very well apply to any compensation that Tyson is receiving from Animal Planet.
Considering its inherent cruelties, there's no question that pigeon racing should be illegal. Birds who are forced to race often struggle to survive extreme heat, hail, and thunderstorms, dodging both predators and cruel humans through grueling races that can be as long as 500 miles. Those who somehow do not succumb to exhaustion or injury and make their way home may still have their necks wrung by unsatisfied trainers.
Take a minute to write Animal Planet and politely let the network know that while you love shows like Whale Wars and Animal Cops—programs in which people go to bat for animals—a program in which people bet on cruelty is a bad hand for everyone.
Written by Shawna Flavell
In an effort to rebuild his image, Mike Tyson has a new Animal Planet series in the works, tentatively titled Taking on Tyson and slated to premiere in 2011. The former heavyweight fighter will use the program to showcase his passion for pigeons via his exploits in the pigeon-racing industry.
While we would never knock someone's love for these intelligent birds, Tyson's claim to care about pigeons is rather incredulous given that he chooses to tout using them in a "sport" that—like horseracing—exposes them to danger and death. In a typical race, the birds are taken great distances—sometimes as many as 500 miles—away from their homes and then released to see if they can find their way back. It can only be a traumatic experience, as evidenced by the fallen pigeons who succumb to storms, shotgun pellets, and collisions with high-tension wires and who are often found starving, exhausted, and a long way from home. Pigeons mate for life, and the likelihood that both partners will find each other again or that the bird who is released will be reunited with the one left in the coop is a crapshoot. For those banded birds who are found by concerned citizens or turned in to humane societies and have their bands traced, the voice on the other end of the phone is likely to say what we have been told directly, i.e., "Wring their necks, that's what we do with losers."
Mike Tyson likes to tell the story of the first time that he beat someone up, saying it was over someone wanting to hurt one of "his" pigeons. Well, in pigeon racing, he'll meet a lot of people he can beat up if that's the criteria, but if he really wants to rehabilitate his image, then the seedy underbelly of the pigeon-racing world isn't the ideal stage for him. If you'd like to contact Animal Planet to state your opinion on whether this show should air or if the network should stick to Whale Wars and Animal Cops, please send a polite message to Discovery Communications' viewer relations department.
Written by Logan Scherer
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.