Feeling Guilty?

A very interesting question was raised on Avian Avenue yesterday.

The question was, "Do you ever feel guilty about aviculture?"

A lot of people chimed in saying they did and one person said they'd give up their birds if it meant that owning birds could be illegal. Only a very small number of people said they didn't feel guilty; I was one of those. Somebody said that with this question, a can of worms was opened, and I completely agree.

I don't feel guilty about owning birds. I don't feel guilty about aviculture. I really think guilty is the wrong word. I find that ashamed is a better word, and I do feel ashamed about the state of the industry and at times I even feel angry about it. There are many, many things wrong with not only the aviculture industry, but the pet industry as a whole.

I think in order for one to feel guilty about something, they have to have had a big part in causing it and have some power to either have prevented it in the first place or change it. Seeing as I didn't cause the current state of aviculture and I certainly can't change it by myself, I don't feel guilty about it. I am guilty of at times supporting it, and I am trying to get better about that. I no longer shop at big box pet stores unless I have no choice, and I certainly will never purchase another animal from a big box store. I am guilty of being part of the industry, having spent a year working at a big box pet store, and that is something I will never do again.

No, I don't feel guilty about aviculture. I can't feel guilt because I didn't cause it, but like I said, I am ashamed of and angry at the shape of the industry. There are too many birds without homes, too many birds dying too soon, too many birds being taken out of their natural environment, too many companies selling products that are dangerous or just detrimental to the health of our birds. This is not something that any one pet owner is responsible for. I think we, as a community, have helped it on its way, but I also think that the community, at least those members of the community who care about these things, are trying very hard to correct the problems caused by our predecessors in the hobby and the industry.

When it comes to my own birds, I don't feel even a tinge of guilt. All three of them are quite happy. They have everything they need, plus some. They have fresh food and water, they have a safe place to live in, sleep in, and relax in. They get to go outside sometimes. They have enrichment and foraging opportunities. They don't have to worry about predators; they seldom have a reason to be afraid of anything. They have the companionship of not only their human flock members, but also their feathered flock members. When they are sick, they are cared for.

Things aren't perfect for them, but that is what I strive for while knowing perfection could never be met. My three have never known a life outside of the type of life they have (except maybe Sydney, but I don't really know what her life was like). They know nothing about what life is like outside of being pets and companions. They don't know what they're missing, and so I don't feel guilty. I would feel guilty if they had been given that freedom and then had it taken away.


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