Saving Dr. Don's Parrots

Saving Dr. Don's Parrots (Venice 33 Rescue Update)

Doctor Don Swerida was a unique character, well known throughout Florida state for his mobile veterinary services. He was admired and loved by both people and animals. Sadly, he passed away July of 2017, just hours after losing his best canine buddy named Rastafarian Nestle.

Dr. Don graduated from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989 and subsequently relocated to Sarasota where he worked as a Vet in private practice. Then in 1995, he started Dr. Don’s mobile vet service. Little did he know he was on his way to becoming a community hero.

As his practiced matured, this big-hearted man with a gray ponytail and a handlebar moustache got his animal fix as he became guardian to many critters, including 30+ parrots.

And this is where our story begins.

In late June of this year, Debbie Huckaby was contacted by state authorities and asked to assist in an emergency parrot rescue in neighboring Venice. She was told that there were dozens of parrots in need of rescue as their current guardian had encountered some trouble and was currently incarcerated.

The BOPS emergency rescue team sprang to action and had all 30+ parrots relocated to the sanctuary within hours of the call. The next morning the birds were relocated to larger cages and of course treated to lots of attention, fresh fruits, veggies, pellets and toys.

The getting to know you stage has been set and frankly, it’s hard not to fall in love with any one of these parrots. When you enter their area, you may be asked if you want a "cold beer" or encouraged to root for the Packers. There are perfect imitations of fire sirens, requests for water and choruses of hellos. There are lots of "I love yous."

But mostly, there are dozens of pairs of eyes that warm your heart when they gaze upon you. You find that the hours just pass away as make your way between enclosures, saying hello and sharing nuts in the shell with your new pals.

But then reality sets in.

To start, this is an unusual case as it is a state intervention. In this scenario, BOPS first became the temporary guardian of the parrots. Any animal seizure that's tethered to a legal matter can take time to resolve. Fortunately for Dr. Don's parrots, the sheriff's office and Fish & Game wrap up the case expediently—and that's a good thing for these birds.

Rescues are never easy and perhaps the hardest thing to grapple with is the angst being experienced by so many.

There's the former guardian that did their best. This is a person that was trusted enough by Dr. Don to be the designated guardian for dozens of parrots when he could no longer care for them. This is a big responsibility. For anyone. It doesn’t leave much room for a personal crisis, and if faced by one, things can go downhill rapidly.

This situation may yet be another indicator that someone in this situation has no idea how to ask for help, or where to find it, when the care of parrots becomes too much.

And then there are the parrots. Thirty-plus parrots experiencing a second trauma in a short period. First in mid-2017, when after having Dr. Don's unabridged love and care—they suddenly didn't. They experienced the heart-breaking trauma of losing a long-time guardian and their best friend. Now in 2018. The loss of a second guardian. Hope has become a cycle for them.

And yet they still love and want to trust unconditionally. You can see it in their eyes. I have had the pleasure of spending some time with them and they are funny and loving and have already melted my heart. These are amazing parrots, of which some may decide they are best suited as a constant companion—while others may decide to permanently reside at BOPS.

So, let’s all work together to give second chances to all of Dr. Don's parrots.

There are several ways you can help provide a top-notch second chance experience for these parrots:

As always, thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us to give Dr. Don's parrots a second chance—and second chances for every other parrot that needs a safe place to land when they find themselves homeless through no fault of their own.


Birds of Paradise has long operated an emergency rescue program for distressed, abandoned and abused parrots. We never have—nor ever will—turn our backs on a distressed parrot. We exist to provide second chances for so many beautiful parrots who need a place to land when they find themselves in distress through no fault of their own.

Our rescue work is what makes us different from so many other parrot sanctuaries, at a time when providing the best care to formerly abused and neglected parrots is critical.

If everyone who believes in our mission helps to support our organization, our future would be much more secure. For as little as 14 CENTS A DAY, you can support us by becoming a BOPS member and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

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17020 Water Line Rd
Bradenton FL 34212

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Imagine a place where neglected and abused parrots get second chances every day. Help make it a reality.