Updated September 17, 2020
Before you consider starting a parrot sanctuary, one of the most important things to secure is access to a veterinarian who is capable of providing adequate and compassionate care for each species of resident you plan on taking in, especially in emergency situations. Just because you have an excellent veterinarian for your cat or dog in town, in no way does that mean that they’d be ready to take on a macaw or parakeet! Every veterinarian has different species-specific specialties and less specific knowledge of other kinds of animals.
It’s critical to enlist a veterinarian (or multiple veterinarians if necessary) of record in order to perform health checkups, prescribe vaccinations and medicine, run lab tests, interpret diagnostic results, provide documentation to the government about your sanctuary’s residents, and conduct surgeries or provide end-of-life care if necessary.
Vets For Parrot Care
In a rural area, it’s challenging to find a veterinary service for avian resident of any species, let alone parrots! Difficulties can arise in finding a veterinarian who is well-versed in compassionate long term care; some veterinarians may have a little experience with parrots or have an “exotic” veterinary clinic. However, it is still important to ask questions about their level of actual experience with parrots and their various species. Even in most urban areas, it can be a challenge to find an experienced vet in close proximity.
Because of all the challenges that parrots in your care may face, it’s important to find a veterinarian who, at minimum, specializes in avian medicine and regularly sees avian patients. If you are able to find a board-certified avian veterinarian in your area, this is ideal as this indicates an advanced level of education in avian medicine and surgery and requires regular re-certification. In The United States, there’s nothing preventing any veterinarian from advertising proficiency treating most animals, including parrots. A board certification demonstrates a much higher level of aptitude and experience than words alone.
Vetting A Vet
If possible, start your veterinary search before you formally start your own sanctuary with the help of other sanctuaries in your region. Who do they use? How far does their veterinarian travel? Does their veterinarian sympathize with a compassionate mission (and hopefully offer reduced cost care as a result)? If other sanctuaries in your area have a difficult time getting veterinary care, you may want to deeply consider whether your proposed location is right for you.
You can also contact the state veterinary board and ask them for recommendations in care for the types of species that you’re planning to rescue. Perhaps there’s a veterinary teaching school attached to a local university that might be able to accommodate your sanctuary’s residents and provide superior emergency care.
You should have a care plan established for all species of residents you’re planning on rescuing. This plan should be sent to prospective veterinarians (and signed off by the veterinarians who end up working with you). They should know what level of care you expect as well as the different challenges that they might face as the veterinarian of record for your organization. They should also know the purpose of your organization and any compassionate guidelines you have set for your premises, though you won’t necessarily find a veterinarian who personally shares your views when it comes to your sanctuary’s residents.
In some situations you may have to be clever and find a qualified avian veterinarian that is too far for time-sensitive assistance but has the knowledge and experience you need to work with a good local dog and cat veterinarian to provide certain care for residents.
Some sanctuaries send representatives to the offices of prospective veterinarians and lay out their sanctuary’s mission, their standards, and the treatments that they expect to have access to prior to having the veterinarian treat a resident, but not all sanctuaries have the luxury of time when selecting a veterinarian.
If you’re having a hard time finding a veterinarian for your avian residents, the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) has a tool that allows you to search for AAV member practitioners worldwide.
Once you’ve found appropriate veterinary care for your residents, how do you maintain a good relationship with your vets? Read on here!