For Immediate Release:
July 1, 2022
David Perle 202-483-7382
Monroeville, Ala. – Following reports that a pigeon named Bob, sent over the English Channel in a British pigeon race, was found 4,000 miles away in Alabama and is now in the care of the Monroe County Animal Shelter, PETA sent an urgent letter today to shelter Director Sue Evans urging her not to return Bob to the man who used him for pigeon racing, a hidden cruelty that badly exploits and kills birds. As PETA’s pigeon-racing exposés have revealed, the casualty rate of birds flying over the channel is so high that many racers refer to it as the “graveyard,” and the North of England Homing Union, with which Bob is reportedly registered, was compelled to apologize for the many birds lost in an “awful” race last year.
Bob is presumed to have landed on a U.S.-bound ship in the English Channel—and as PETA points out, there’s no doubt that others in the race drowned. In pigeon racing, domesticated birds (who are unable to fend for themselves in nature) are abandoned to the elements and struggle to find their way home and more than 60% of birds won’t return from a typical race.
“If birds used in British pigeon races don’t drown in the English Channel, they are often ‘culled’ as ‘losers’ by racers who snap their necks or gas them with car exhaust,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “Bob the pigeon beat the odds to make it to safety, and PETA is calling on the Monroe County Animal Shelter to let him live out the rest of his days in peace.”
The group notes that an adoptive home is waiting for Bob with a PETA staffer who currently cares for two other rescued pigeons and has years of experience rehabilitating birds from the racing industry.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Evans follows.
July 1, 2022
To: Sue Evans, Director, Monroe County Animal Shelter
From: Colin Henstock, Assistant Manager of Investigations, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Re: Urgent Plea on Behalf of Bob the Pigeon
Dear Ms. Evans:
Your attention is urgently and respectfully requested. I’m writing with regard to Bob the pigeon, whom we understand your agency intends to return to the man who cruelly subjected him to the Guernsey race several weeks ago. We urge you to view the results of our investigation into similar U.K. pigeon races, which led to the deaths of thousands of birds.
Crossing the English Channel is one of the major dangers facing pigeons released outside the U.K. for races. The channel can be 150 to 200 miles wide at some crossings, and the birds cannot see land on the other side to use as a navigational reference. The casualty rate over the channel is so high that many racers refer to it as the “graveyard.”
But crossing the channel isn’t the only cause of the massive death rate for birds forced to race—they also succumb to storms, exhaustion, starvation, predation, and collisions with power lines. For the birds who do make it home, there is no guarantee of a happy ending, because of the widespread practice of culling. After the races are over, most of the pigeons who didn’t finish in the money or aren’t kept for breeding are deemed useless and then “culled” (killed) by cruel methods such as neck-breaking, drowning, or gassing with car exhaust. PETA investigators filmed such killings in England.
Bob is extremely fortunate to have found a ship to land on when he was exhausted. There is no doubt that many other birds in that race drowned in the channel. The North of England Homing Union held an especially poorly organized race last year, for which it was forced to apologize about the many birds lost due to poor planning.
If a dog or cat were abandoned in a similar manner in the state of Alabama, the person who did so would be prosecuted for cruelty to animals. Therefore, PETA respectfully asks you not to return Bob to the man who callously abandoned him. If you would be willing to transfer him, PETA has staff on hand with extensive experience in rehabilitating and caring for pigeons.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration and for the vital work that you do. I look forward to hearing from you.
Assistant Manager of Investigations