My husband and I decided a few months ago that we wanted to purchase a Quaker Parrot. So our search began.

Being uneducated about pet stores, that is the first place that we looked. We made several trips over the course of a few weeks to the Petland in South Point, Ohio to look at their birds. They had baby quakers, too young to be purchased yet according to employees who stated that they were being hand fed, housed in the middle of the store in a glass case along with a variety of other types of birds, much older than the quakers. This set off an alarm to me. If these quakers were too young to be sold, why were they on display in such a manner?

The employee we spoke to asked us to pay a deposit on the bird and when it was legal to sell it, they would call. Not being one to impulse buy, I refused and stated that we were going to do a little shopping around. But these birds stayed on my mind. We ultimately made a few more visits to the store, the birds were still housed in the same matter, usually hiding under a wooden box from the other, older birds and always seeming to be hungry. We were planning a vacation and knew that we would have to wait until we returned so we could care for the bird. Again, I didn't pay the deposit that the employee asked for.

On our vacation, we stopped at a Petland in Lewis Center, Ohio. They had baby Quakers and they were cheaper and ready to go. My husband and I decided to think about it. We went on with our trip and on our way home, stopped in Lewis Center and purchased the quaker parrot. The employee who sold us the bird stated that the "guy who takes care of them is off today", so we were unable to get a date of birth for the bird or an approximate age. We were told that the birds were still being hand fed, but that the manager was planning on stopping the hand feeding that week. We were given a small, plastic bag of formula and a few syringes, and told to stop hand feeding when all the formula was gone. The birds at the Petland in Lewis Center were housed in the same manner as the ones in the South Point Store, only the case was cleaner.

The day after purchasing the quaker, I went to a bookstore and purchased a book on quaker parrots. I immediately knew then something was wrong. My quaker had alot of the symptoms of a sick bird. The next day I called the Vet and scheduled an appointment for the next morning. After spending nearly $200.00 on tests, the vet informed me that the bird would be OK, that she was improperly cared for, not fed properly, and had a yeast infection. I was given medicine and purchased the right food from the vet. Within 48 hours, I saw a whole new bird.

It was amazing to see the difference in her. The first 4 days we had her, she sat in her cage with her feathers fluffed and ate very little and had loose, runny, discolored droppings. Now, she is playful, eats well, and is constantly wanting out of her cage to play.

So, I again visited the Petland in South Point, just to buy toys for my quaker. That is when I saw the 5 baby quakers being housed in the same glass case, but this time seperate from the other birds. There was no food in the case. The water was full of bird droppings and the bowl had a green, slimy film on it. Anyone who knows quakers will tell you that when a baby is hunger, they will bob their head and flap their wings. My quaker still does this because, upon advice from the vet, I am still handfeeding and probably always will. But never have I seen quakers bob their heads and flap their wings in such a desperate manner. One quaker in particular had begun to pluck her feathers, which indicates a serious problem. I tried to play with these quakers, but they began to bob their heads even harder. I got some food from the other birds, but the quakers couldn't eat it. They were still too young. One quaker could barely stand.

I put the items that I had in my hand to purchase back on the shelf, and left the store in tears to avoid making a scene. I came home, got on the internet and began sending emails to Petland Headquarter, with no response. I also emailed the Lawrence County (OH) Humane Society, who suggested I get in touch with PETA, so I emailed them as well. I am waiting anxiously on word that these quakers were rescued.

Please, I urge anyone who reads this letter, to visit your local pet stores. Not to purchase anything, but to observe the conditions and report anything out of the way. Anyone can take a few minutes from their grocery shopping or from running errands to stop and walk in. When the employees ask me if they can help me, I just say "No thank you, I'm just looking right now". Just a few minutes to help stop the abuse and neglect of animals.

As I am typing this letter, my quaker is sitting on my shoulder, pulling at my hair and trying to talk. She has become the focus of my family's life and we can't imagine not having her. I never dreamed I could feel so much love for such a small bird. I wouldn't trade her for anything. I just pray that the 5 little quakers at the South Point Petland will one day know that kind of love.

Sincerely, Kim Marcum