Updated: 8:45 p.m. Thursday, May 10, 2012 | Posted: 8:44 p.m. Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rescue founder to fight closure

Humane Society seized 140 birds at Moraine’s Wings Over the Rainbow.

By Richard Wilson

Staff Writer

MORAINE — The founder of a nonprofit exotic bird rescue organization vowed to fight back after officials shut it down on Thursday.

The Humane Society of Greater Dayton, with assistance from the Humane Society of the United States, executed a search warrant at Wings Over the Rainbow, 4950 Springboro Pike, and removed an estimated 140 mostly medium to large exotic birds from the facility.

The warrant is the result of an investigation into complaints that the birds were being kept in poor conditions and not being properly cared for, said Brian Weltge, president and CEO of the local Humane Society.

“We knew birds were in trouble based on reports and our own investigation,” Weltge said. “The conditions are not acceptable for not only birds but humans as well.”

Surrounded by Wings Over the Rainbow board members and volunteers, the group’s founder Deborah Shell stood outside the yellow crime scene tape as Humane Society volunteers removed the colorful parrots, macaws and cockatoos from the building and loaded them into a truck.

Through tears, Shell and others said many of the birds are their beloved pets. They questioned the motives behind the search warrant and expressed concern about the well-being of the smart, sensitive birds as they were taken away.

“They have no right to take my birds. We’re going to fight because Wings does a great job,” Shell said. “They’re claiming I’m an animal hoarder. How can you be a nonprofit rescue center and be called a hoarder?”

The birds were transported to an undisclosed temporary location where veterinarians would check their health and provide care as needed.

Adam Parascandola, HSUS director of animal cruelty investigations, said it’s rare to see so many birds get seized during an investigation.

“There are lots of situations where you have people who have their hearts in the right place, but things have gotten beyond their resources,” Parascandola said. “It’s important for people to understand their limits, because that’s when we see problems.”


Hot topics