Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of Pampered Parrot Rescue AND Parrot Service Animals

Pamperd Parrots is Christian run rescue that has placed 400+ birds that have come through their rescue since opening their doors in 1999.

*In fact, Dr Jeannie just adopted a wonderful little CAG named Koko from them when we were not able to be Tipper's new family (read Meet Tipper posted July 21st, 2008).

President and co-director of Pamperd Parrots, Tracy Conant is Educated in Bird Behavior Modification, Avian Nutrition, Clicker Training,
Avian Tech, Rescue and Recovery Operations, 15+ years experience,
Animal rescue in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, animal advocate,
Wild bird /raptor Triage and Transport, Holistic avian medicine, movie
wrangler, First aid, toy builder/designer and MORE! She is also an advocate for Service birds!

Below is the article Tracy wrote on the subject:

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

The disabilities that we focus on, using parrots as service animals are the social/emotional limitations one may experience. These limitations can include, but are in no way limited to: interaction with others (e.g. withdrawal ; inability to relate due to paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, obsessive compulsive ideation, negativity; inability to regulate mood and anxiety) and communication with others (e.g., expressing emotions appropriately, expressing needs, following a sequence).
While interacting with others, a bird can aid in many areas. In symptoms of withdrawal, such as found in depression, a bird may provide the extra push to encourage the owner to get out of bed and perform daily functions like getting dressed, personal hygiene or eating. Performing the tasks of caring for their service animal is often enough to help a depressed person to make it through another day. In events of paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, OCD and more, the bird becomes a focus to help decipher what is real and what is not. Watching the birds body language offers a key to distinguishing what is occurring around them, what is safe and what is real. Regulating mood and anxiety is another service performed by a bird by again, allowing the person to focus on the bird. This focus, through direct contact with the bird acts as a mood stabilizer (in addition or replacement of medications) and acts as a calming agent through petting or talking to the bird. This may help mental health patients go places by him or herself, or go places they would not normally go that their mood or anxiety would prevent them from going to before.

Communicating with others is another aspect of mental health that a parrot service animal can help. Often, it is hard for a person to express emotions appropriately. A parrot, still acting as a focus, can help keep the client from excited outbursts of anger, mania and more. Studies of others utilizing service animals have shown that persons whom are bipolar are able to go into grocery stores, shopping malls or other public places and have fewer outbursts than they normally would have without the aid of a service animal. Using a parrot can open doors of communicating with others by reducing emotional instability through touch, petting and again, allowing a person to use the bird to gauge safe environments. Birds can be specially trained to interact well in crowds and deciphering safety in public areas, thus allowing the client to lead a more active, normal life.

Current clients that have a service parrot are able to go into public places where they were unable to go before having the bird. One severely agoraphobic client is now able to leave their house and do simple tasks like grocery shopping. Another client suffering from severe depression has had their symptoms reduced greatly, in conjunction with medications, and has purpose to get up out of bed every day; suicidal ideation occurs with less frequency. Yet another client, who is bipolar, benefits from not only have fewer ‘lows’ but is able to function in society be keeping extreme anger or mania in closer check. It has also been proven through other service animals that persons having extended illness or surgical procedures heal much faster with elevated moods through utilizing the benefits provided by their service animal.

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell is a well respected psychiatric professional in the Spokane area and has commented, “I have seen patients whose sole reason for getting out of bed is their service animal. Patients have related to me that but for their service animal(s) they would have committed suicide. These animals actually save and improve lives. Birds are especially suited as service animals and as an added bonus many of these talk, but all communicate well with their owner providing mental stability. Birds are growing in popularity as service animals and I recommend Pampered Parrots as one of the local providers for these birds. They determine suitability of birds for the purpose of being a service animal and place each appropriately.” Dr. Mitchell is a Doctor of Psychology, a National Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Psychiatry and is a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Parrots may be relatively new to the job of service animal, but they continue to be more widely used as their qualities of usefulness are revealed.They continue to improve the lives of those experiencing social and emotional imbalances and troubles with communicating. These birds are not pets, but service animals like dogs, cats, or monkeys and do provide companionship- but more importantly they provide invaluable assistance on the emotional level.

Tracy Conant
Parrot Service Animal Advocate

*More about Koko and Pamperd Parrots to come!

1 comment:

Manny said...

What is the requirement if any that a bird have credentials or it need not have credentials. Does anyone under ADA, have the right to claim that the bird is a service animal without first notifing the employer or this need. Can a bird be use when needed as the person sees fit or will the person truly become dependnat in all aspects of life. How does an employer, during an interview find this type of need. Thank you for your report.