Readers regularly contact me with pet stories that may be of interest. Here is one that I didn't expect.
Ben Harding, a fact checker for the upcoming ABC game show, 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show, met with me near his office in North Hollywood at the Academy for Film and Television Arts and Sciences. Ben usually rescues dogs and cats, but he had recently rescued a new species and wanted to tell me about a different type of rescue organization—a rescue and sanctuary for ducks.
Ben did some fact checking and discovered that there is, indeed, a huge problem with domesticated ducks which are abandoned in parks and ponds.
Q: What do they tell you in pet stores?
A: They might tell you that cute baby ducks are loyal pets, that they are cute, and that they are not too expensive to purchase.
Q: What don't they tell you?
A: They don't tell you the challenging reality of caring for creatures who grow quickly, who depend on us for attention, for care, and for appropriate space to wash, clean, and play. They don't tell you that you'll need to have enough space, enough money, enough time, and you'll need to stick with it.
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Ben introduced me to a woman in Sun Valley who regularly rescues ducks from Studio City families. She introduces me to her sanctuary by explaining, "Ducks are messy, messy, messy!"
Carol Chrisong, owner of non-profit, Lucy Duck Rescue and Sanctuary, describes many reasons cute, little ducklings end up in ponds and parks throughout the region.
"They are only cute for a few months," Carol explains. "They change from cute, peeping ducklings into big, squawking ducks which need a lot of feeding, space, care, and attention."
Carol has been a client of Studio City Animal Hospital for decades. She has brought her pets ranging from tiny birds to big dogs, consulted about her horses, and brought Studio City Animal Hospital many, many ducks from her rescue organization, Lucky Duck Rescue and Sanctuary, currently located in Sun Valley, for emergency medical attention.
Few understand that domesticated ducks cannot survive in ponds or wildlife areas on their own. If people dump them, they'll die, usually slowly, painfully, often horribly.
"Once they imprint on a human, they are dependent on us for life. Because they are messy and a lot of work—THINGS PET STORES DON'T TELL YOU!—they are victims from the moment they are abandoned at ponds, parks, or other wild spaces."
Carol is having a fundraiser for her organization on July 30, in Sun Valley. See the PDF flier included in this article.
What exactly happens to a duck who is abandoned in a pond or park? What is so terrible, you ask? Here is the short list:
#1: Rape. Ducks attack the weak ones, and wild ducks will sexually abuse tame (seen as weak) ducks (male or female) until they are traumatized, usually injured, often lame for life, or even killed. The next joint above a duck's heel is the equivalent to a duck's knee, and if it is blown out by attacks by other ducks or animals (or abusive people) the duck will be lame for the rest of its life.
#2: Prey. Dogs, cats, coyotes, mean human beings all capture and abuse or kill ducks. These occurrences are not rare, unfortunately.
#3: Sick Torture. Ducks dependent on humans are easy targets for sick individuals and groups who want ritual sacrifice and torture victims. Mean adolescents are known to enjoy abusing and torturing these poor animals who are easy targets, having learned to trust and depend on human care.
#4: Lack of Nourishment. Since ducks who are imprinted on humans wait for human feeders; they don't eat on their own. They may die of starvation, simply starving slowly. Even if they are rescued, loss of nutrients during the vital growth process may lead to malformed bodies.
Carol Chrisong's rescue organization offers help, love, and salvation for many abandoned ducks in Los Angeles. But her funds are stretched to their limit. She needs support, assistance, and financial help.
I will run a follow-up piece that will feature some stories about particular ducks. I think it's important to personalize this situation a little. Please consider making a contribution to Carol Chrisong's Lucky Duck Rescue and Sanctuary. Or at least come to her fundraiser on the 25th of July, and find out more information.
Few people intend to hurt animals when they adopt these adorable ducklings. Please spread the word about the terrible misinformation that leads innocent children and families to collaborate in unnecessary suffering. There is a great deal of ignorance about how to coexist peacefully and successfully with ducks.
Ducks currently enter many homes through the school system, where ducks are hatched in classes, and then they are given to the children to take home as pets. So, we need to raise concern there as well. If your school introduces children to ducks by hatching and then giving them to unsuspecting families, please ask them to provide an endgame for successful care of the ducklings.
Placing them into homes without warning them about the expense, demands, and mess to come is a perpetuation of a cycle of terrible abuse and pain for these innocent birds.
Next week, we'll highlight a few particular stories of ducks and families.