One hot, humid afternoon in July, I was apartment hunting and checking out an old factory in Brooklyn that was undergoing renovation for loft rentals. As I entered the bathroom in one unlit, unfinished space, two pigeons flapped frantically in the darkness—apparently they were as startled by my presence as I was by theirs. The birds had found a way into the building but were unable to get out because the windows had been boarded up.
After tearing a board off a window, I managed to catch and release each of the frightened birds. Both of them paused on the scaffolding outside to allow their eyes to adjust to the bright sunshine and to take in fresh air before flying off into the distance. If I hadn’t helped them out of that stifling, sawdust-filled space, they surely would have succumbed to the searing heat, as well as hunger and thirst.
Around that same time, a similar situation was unfolding in a small, rural town in Kansas. A distraught resident called PETA to report that countless birds were roasting to death in a dilapidated building that the city had recently boarded up. With summer temperatures climbing, we immediately contacted city officials and urged them to take action for the birds, but the person we spoke with told us that the city had bigger problems to deal with. Um, wrong answer.
We raced to place an action alert on our Web site, and we fired off a letter to city commissioners. Realizing that PETA and our caring members weren’t going to back down, city officials acted. Less than 24 hours after our initial contact, the fire and police departments were sent to rescue the surviving birds. They provided them with water and tore holes in the roof to create escape routes and ventilation.
By not turning a blind eye to animal suffering, and by making a call to PETA, one “little bird” prompted the rescue of countless others from certain death.
Written by Karin Bennett