A woman in Chalk River, Ontario has dedicated her life to saving abused birds, some of which arrive at her door addicted to drugs.
Diane Dwyer has more than 60 birds that have been abandoned or seized by police and she keeps them in her home where she runs 2nd Chance Aviary Parrot Sanctuary.
The self-proclaimed “crazy bird lady” said the police first discovered her sanctuary when an 82-year-old parrot named “Bill” called 911.
“Bill picked up the phone and hit 911 and [the emergency operator] said ‘what’s the emergency?’… I said ‘none, we’re just heading out to work.’”
The phone operator asked Dwyer if there were any children in the house and hours later police showed up at her doorstep.
Dwyer said she told police to be prepared and brought them in to meet the parrots.
“The first thing [Bill] says is ‘do you want to smoke a joint?’” Dwyer said.
Ever since that incident police have come to rely on Dwyer to help parrots who have been badly abused or need a home.
Many of the parrots have lived through horrific abuse.
Dwyer said one of her parrots was beaten and set on fire by her drunken owner and another was addicted to methadone after being seized in a drug bust.
“[The drugs] are in their system so what you have to do is same as with human’s, you have to detox them. But it’s done so much damage physically to their minds.”
Dwyer makes special collars for many of the birds that pluck themselves bare or mutilate themselves from anxiety and stress.
“So many of them that would have been euthanized or just passed from home to home, they’re here,” she said.
Dwyer has been running the bird sanctuary for more than two decades and is full to capacity.
She hopes to pass on the sanctuary to her granddaughter, Dallas, who is also emotionally attached the birds and doesn’t mind living with parrots in every nook and cranny of her home.
“If you just put aside all the crazy noise and all the flying, it’s not that bad,” Dallas said.
Dwyer said that while her birds are the loves of her life, people should know what they’re getting into before they decide to get a bird as a pet.
“Think before you buy a bird,” she said. “People don’t realize that when they buy these birds they’re like having a two year old in your house for the rest of your life. They never grow up.”
For more information and to donate, visit 2nd Chance Aviary Parrot Sanctuary’s website.
With files from Shirlee Engel