As a veterinarian, Julie Burge has rescued and cared for domestic birds and family pets abandoned in communities ravaged by hurricanes and tornadoes.
The deplorable conditions from which she rescued six parrots last week from a vacant Pleasant Valley house were just as bad, if not worse, she said.
The two cockatoos and four macaws were unhealthy with tattered and discolored feathers. Several birds had large bare patches where feathers had been plucked out or chewed off, said Burge, who operates a veterinarian practice and bird rescue operation in Grandview. She previously rescued pets after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Joplin tornado.
The Pleasant Valley parrots were discovered by Carol Fisher, who once shared the Northland residence with her husband. The couple recently had finalized their divorce, which forbid Fisher from re-entering the home in the 6800 block of Sobbie Road for 120 days. Fisher had not been in the home for over six years before that, she said.
When she finally did return, she and Burge found the parrots in a large room filled with trash, firewood piles and old furniture. The parrots had chewed through drywall and electrical wiring. A thick coat of dirt covered the floor. Their cages contained piles of waste. Rodent droppings dotted their dirty food dishes.
“I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize there was no food, no water, and the birds were freed and left in a room to tear it up,” Fisher said.
Fisher, 75, said the parrots belonged to her ex-husband, who had a friend go to the home to help care for the birds.
The friend said Friday that the husband visited the parrots each day to play with them and ensure they were fed, given water and kept warm.
Burge is treating the parrots with antibiotics for infections. The parrots are aggressive and will need time to adjust before they can be adopted, Burge said.
“They were left to live like rats, basically salvaging, destroying the woodwork and running wild,” she said. “They were living in filth and were just fed enough to keep them alive.”