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For Immediate Release: 09/01/04

Landmark Bill Protecting Baby Parrots Goes into Effect

Sacramento, CA — Precedent-setting legislation that protects young parrots in the state will go into effect on September 1, 2004. The Animal Protection Institute (API), a Sacramento-based national animal advocacy organization, sponsored Assembly Bill 202, introduced by Assemblywoman Ellen Corbett, to protect young parrots in the pet trade. The new law requires that parrots be weaned (able to eat on their own) before release from a pet store, swap meet, or other retail outlet, and that pet shops must have at least one employee trained in the care and feeding of young birds. California is first state in the nation to regulate the sale of unweaned birds.

“This historic law will serve a model for other states and bring attention to the plight of captive birds. The new law will protect young parrots and will shield consumers from the emotional and financial costs of caring for a pet who has been sold at too young an age,” says API Chief Executive Officer Michelle Thew. “The Animal Protection Institute will now be looking to roll out this model nationwide and has already been contacted by a number of bird lovers who are interested in passing similar legislation in their states,” Thew says.

Despite opposition from Petco and others in the pet industry, AB 202 had a broad-based coalition of supporters, including API, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Avian Welfare Coalition, bird rescue and welfare organizations, individual veterinarians, humane law enforcement officials, and hundreds of bird lovers throughout the state and nation.

“This is a common-sense animal welfare and consumer protection law — it’s hard to see how anyone could have opposed it,” says API Senior Program Coordinator Monica Engebretson.

An inexperienced individual attempting to hand-feed a baby parrot often unintentionally harms the bird, with tragic results such as emotional and developmental deficiencies, bacterial infections, burned or punctured crops (stomachs), malnutrition, starvation, or death.

To help protect birds from inexperienced pet shop employees, the new law requires that pet shops with five or fewer employees have at least one person per pet shop location who has completed the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council's (PJAC) avian certification program. A pet shop with six or more employees must employ at least two people who have completed the program. PJAC recently revised its avian certification program and expanded the section on hand feeding unweaned birds and has made the program available on-line to help retailers comply with the new law. The law will also be consistent with existing laws that prohibit the sale of other unweaned animals.

For more information on exotic birds, see www.MoreBeautifulWild.com.

The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization with 85,000 members and supporters, working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. For more information about API and the organization’s mission, campaigns, and activities, please visit www.api4animals.org.

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Contact:
Michelle Thew, Chief Executive Officer, 916-447 3085 x211
Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Coordinator, 916-447-3085 x210

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