Thursday, May 01, 2008

Seattle's pigeons shot with darts at risk of painful death

Someone is impaling pigeons in downtown Seattle with metal darts, and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is putting up $2,000 to help find out who.

Several Seattle residents have called PETA in the past two weeks to report seeing three injured pigeons fluttering around with needlelike projectiles — about 3 to 4 inches long — piercing their heads, said Tori Perry, cruelty case worker for the Norfolk, Virginia-based organization.

The darts were fired from a blow gun, lodging directly behind the birds' eyes without penetrating their brains, Perry said. The longer the darts remain, the higher the chance for the injury to get worse and infection to set in, she said. The end result: "a very, very painful death," Perry said.

"This is just a horrifying case," she said. "Someone who would do this to an animal is a short step away from doing this to a human being."

Authorities at the Seattle Animal Shelter said they have also had several complaints about the darted pigeons. And, they add, it's been difficult to track and capture the birds to get them proper treatment.

"They are quite athletic, good fliers," said Don Baxter, enforcement supervisor. "They're not hanging around waiting for an officer to get close" to take them to a veterinarian, he said.

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