Billie Savage started Pigeon Rescue NL (Stichting Stadsduiven Hulp Nederland) from her home in Amsterdam. With a group of volunteers, she rescues Dutch pigeons from stringfoot.
String foot is a term used to describe pigeons whose feet have become entangled with string, thread, natural or artificial human hair, dental floss, yarn, or the many other materials discarded by humans. Pigeons feet get stuck together and swollen if the string is not removed. All the stuff we see with pigeons missing feet, it’s strings, Billie told The Animal Reader.
Food during the lockdown
During the coronavirus lockdown in the Netherlands, what happened was an animal rights crime because the pigeons did not get any food. There was mass starvation all over the country, Billie told The Animal Reader.
The younger generation still has feather and joint deformation because they did not get enough food in their nests. They’re also very small because they didn’t eat enough, she added.
During the lockdown, Germany assigned certain places where pigeons could be fed; they recognized it as an animal welfare issue. The Netherlands should be ashamed of themselves for letting pigeons starve, Billie said.
People often think that pigeons are wild animals, but they’re not. They’re domesticated and depend on humans for food. Pigeons have been living with us for thousands of years.
Humans bred them to be our companions, and when we didn’t want them anymore, we started seeing them as pests.
That pigeons have diseases that they can give to humans is an absolute myth, Billie said. She never heard of anyone working intensively with pigeons, get sick.
Her home has become a small pigeon sanctuary since there are no sanctuaries in the Netherlands. And bird sanctuaries discriminate against pigeons by refusing to take them in.
Some people treat stray dogs really bad in other countries, the same the Netherlands does with pigeons. “They’re our stray dogs,” she said, and we need to help them. “They’re just as deserving of our compassion as any other animal.”
Rotterdamse Duif (Rotterdam Pigeon) is an art project by Sofie Ryhiner where she encourages people to see pigeons not as flying rats but as feathered friends.
The talkshow aired from theater WORM in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. WORM is the only theater in Rotterdam with an almost completely vegan menu.
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