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Information from May/2010
A few months ago in Colorado a bird breeder named Lisa McManus, who has been very active in aviculture, had her birds confiscated because of the horrible care they received in her home. She was charged with over 111 counts of animal abuse and there has been a great deal of confusion about the actual legal implications of her case with contradictory information. Several people within the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture remain loyal to her. My only hope is that they are not blind to the horrible lack of care her parrots received or what seems to be the “smoke and mirrors” of her explanations. I personally can’t condone this horrible care of parrots nor can I understand anyone who professes to care about parrots and continues to support Lisa McManus.
I have been doing a lot of research on hoarding and it is my personal (and by no means professional) opinion after seeing the photographs and reading the veterinarian report that Ms McManus has a classic hoarder mentality when it comes to birds. Hoarding is now considered to be a mental illness and a compulsive-obsessive disorder that needs to be treated. Hoarders are considered to have abnormal brain functioning that is different from non-hoarders. The interesting thing is that hoarders don’t see what is in front of them a compulsive-obsessive disorder that needs to be treated. Hoarders are considered to have abnormal brain functioning that is different from non-hoarders. The interesting thing is that hoarders don’t see what is in front of them and often have no idea what the fuss is about when they are found out.
I have been watching a very painful show TV show called Hoarders. The show deals with people who have turned their homes into garbage dumps, their families (whether they live there or not) and the hoarder’s reaction to help. A clinical psychologist who deals with obsessive-compulsive behaviors talks with the hoarder, a hoarding expert comes in and organizes crews of people to come in and shovel everything out and a company called “Got Junk” hauls it all away. They classify the hoarder and the level 5 hoarder is the worst.
So far none of the shows have really dealt with animal hoarding. I think this would be too horrendous for many people to watch; it would be for me. However in the show last night, as they were shoveling layers and layers of rotting junk away, they found two very dead and desiccated cats. The daughter of the woman had stated that her mother loved animals but that they had taken her dogs away from her because of the condition of the home. Her son also had to go and live with his older sister.
The psychologist told the woman, “if you love animals and you want the world to know you love animals, no more dead cats.” The daughter stated that the cats had just gotten lost in the junk and died. Then the hoarding expert explained that hoarders lose sight of such things; their senses are different that a normal person. They don’t see most of the mess and that is usually why they resent anyone who tries to help them. They generally blame others for their situation, especially if someone throws something away that was a treasure to them (which most of the junk is). One woman had rotting bags full of adult diapers that she had used and had become so used to the smell of them that she didn’t notice it anymore. This is called ‘sense fatigue.’ Of course, anyone coming into the home would notice the smell immediately! The woman with the dead cats in her house simply don’t notice or smell the rotting cats in the piles of junk in her house and just figured the cats had run off. After the Got Junk people come in and clear out the house, there is no guarantee that the hoarder will not start it all over again so there is some psychological counseling provided.
So how does this apply to Lisa McManus? In my personal opinion, it is worse because she is keeping intelligent parrots caged in filth; the only way they could have escaped the squalor was through death. If she does have a hoarder mentality, this is most likely why she seems so oblivious to the way she keeps her parrots. Several people who know her and have become disgusted told me that she had been like this for years despite the fact that so many people have tried to help her clean up the place and clean up her act.
Just like the woman in the last Hoarder show who lost sight of the smell of her rotting cats, according to several people who know her, Lisa seems to have no true awareness as to the horrible conditions her parrots are kept in. To me this is why it is so inconceivable that she got 35 of her “pets” back. It is my strong opinion that the legal authorities really messed this one up by allowing any parrots to return to her home. I was actually contacted by a television producer involved in Animal Planet's show on animal hoarding.
The court system didn’t enforce any severe penalties or jail time, which could have happened. She has a year to clean up her act with the 35 pets that were returned to her and is supposed to be inspected on a regular basis. Evidently though some legal maneuver, Lisa McManus managed to get all of her charges transferred to her husband who I have been told has little to do with the care of the parrots.
The American Federation of Aviculture asked Lisa McManus to take an leave of absence. However, it appears that despite a board decision, she still remains on the board of the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture. I think that her “friends” who support her or those who prefer to remain oblivious to the fact that the so-called expert and bird maven of that bird club is clearly a severe abuser of birds, are and will continue to be as much, if not more of a problem to the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture. To condone or even placidly accept this kind of behavior from a representative of the club makes an absolute mockery of any educational or honorable goals the club professes to have.