PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (WFLA) – More than two dozen birds stolen from a rescue facility in Charlotte County could resurface anywhere around the state, according to police, who are asking dealers to be on alert.
The Parrot Outreach Society is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the return of their beloved birds. Police say someone burglarized their facility early Tuesday morning and got away with 28 birds.
The nonprofit’s executive director Susan Jennings tells WFLA the crooks cut off their security system before breaking into their back room and stealing nearly 30 exotic birds. When volunteers arrived to the property, they found the lights out, cage doors wide open and feathers everywhere.
“I went into a shock. I just couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe somebody would do this to these poor birds,” said Jennings.
The Parrot Outreach Society is home to almost 100 rescue birds, all with different backgrounds. Some had to be surrendered by elderly owners, while others have special needs or histories of abuse.
The thieves took cockatoos, amazons and conures among other breeds. Volunteers believe money was their motive, with some exotic birds being worth thousands of dollars.
“Street value, they are very expensive, but our adoption fees are not. We charge less because they are rescue birds,” Jennings explained. “They have already had one or more homes and they have special needs, so our fees aren’t what you would pay in a pet store.”
With many of the birds needing special care and attention, volunteers are deeply concerned for their well-being in the hands of the thieves.
“Some of them are on medication, some of them need special perches, some of them have special needs and whoever took them isn’t going to know these things,” the executive director said. “If they can’t sell them, what are they gonna do with them? This is animal abuse, this is not OK.”
Punta Gorda Police detectives are actively investigating.
Members of the public who have any information on this incident are asked to contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-780-8477 or by using the P3 Tips mobile app. Authorities say you can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward for information leading an arrest or recovery of the birds.
“While we do not know, we think it is very unlikely that the individual(s) who took these birds would try to sell them locally, so dealers throughout the state should be aware of it,” a Punta Gorda police spokesperson said.