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Old 01-11-2019, 10:42 PM
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Angry Birds aren't impulse buys!!

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So I started working at Petsmart as a dog trainer, and I enjoy my job! Unfortunately it's also causing me to want to smack people! Because everyone there knows I have parrots, of course any time there is a burd question I get pulled. Fine with me, i enjoy sharing the love and knowledge i have gained and places for people to turn to for their feathered pals!

But, I have also seen the ignorance.

We had a Green Cheek Conure in our store. A pineapple mutation with a silly personality. So, in walks this family...a mother and her 2 daughters who are maybe 13 and 10. The older girl wants the bird. So my coworker helps them select a cage, and toys, and food. But then they asked about snacks the bird can have. So the employee came to get me. And thank God she did.

Apparently the conure size appropriate cage was 'too expensive', the food was store brand seed, the toys were designed for parakeets, and they had a sleepy hut...which I already knew our bird would destroy because of his destructive behavior.

So I ask the age old question I ask everyone. Why do you think a parrot is right for you?

Turns out, surprise surprise, she thought it was cute. That's it.

So I explained the pros and cons of parrots. The changes in the home they'd have to make. They weren't having it. And then asked if a parakeet would be ok.

I had to SLOWLY explain what I just said again. When they pushed the issue I told them I couldn't sell them a bird. And our managers give us rein over not allowing sales if we don't feel comfortable.

Needless to say, they stormed out empty handed.

I grabbed the other employee and explained the NEED to question potential owners. That no bird, small or large, should ever go home with someone who just decided they 'needed' a bird. But she was great about it, and I even walked her around to show her what was appropriate for a conure.

I am by no means a parrot expert, and i'm still learning. And im sure I dti things that other parrot parents don't like. But i'm always trying to look out for what's best for the creatures who rely on us humans.

Ive also had a woman come in looking for sunflower seeds for her conure... cause that is ALL the bird eats, and has for 5 years. I almost died.

I got her a bag of RudyBush and Zupreem pellets, telling her if her bird snuffed its nose it could be returned, and a decent seed mix, and checked her out. Then before she left I gave her the number of my avian vet and asked that she get him tested for fatty liver.

Bottom line is, I love helping those who are ready to make a jump into the bird world. But God, sometimes it makes me upset and sick when I hear things.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:52 PM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

So hard! I got into a fight with our local Petco manager(self proclaimed bird hater), only cages available were fall apart wire cages on their shelves! He had a blue Quaker labeled as a GCC for sale!
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:03 PM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Glad you did what you did and glad you still have a job there.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:48 PM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Awesome job. I wish all Petsmart and Petco employees cared about being educated on the animals they sell. If that little conure only knew you saved his life!

Glad you enjoy your job as a dog trainer! Lots of ignorant dog moms and dads I’m sure you see too .
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:03 AM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Yep reason why I see so many Conure, Cockatiels and Parakeet come in at rescues I work at and that the ones that live to make it there. People buy birds based on impulse at those places. Thinking they are cute, or child wanted the bird with zero homework done before hand. I glad you tried to educate them, but unfortunately they didn't seem to care. I could never work at those pet stores as I get fired the first week if I last even that long. Don't get me started on the sunflower seeds diet?

Then you have the poor hamsters and guinea pigs that get same treatment and cages way to under size like the stupid tiny tales hamster cages that that design to look like a toy to entice kids to want a hamster that PetSmart sell.

Last edited by ParrotGenie; 01-12-2019 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:25 AM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Kudos, you are changing the world one customer at a time. Nice to see local management allowing sales discretion.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:32 AM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Working at PetSmart or Petco is my nightmare. I actually frequent my local Petco to hold the Conures and give then some social interaction and I sometimes bring Finley when it's warmer out to give him some special time with Mommy. I am there for an hour or so and actively discourage people from buying a conure or any other type if bird without researching and knowing how much work it is. I show them my Finfin and tell them them how very dedicated you need to be or your bird won't want to be held or even let you touch it and will bite you. I tell them Finley bites me like at least once a day in a good day even though he is all sweet and nice and doing tricks right now. Mostly after "the talk" most people walk away terrified. I also mention parrots this size poop every 20 mins or less and I often say "brb need to take Finley to the potty" and I tell them potty training takes a lot of dedication too or you'll get pooped on all the time and I still get pooped sometimes on even with training. So yeah....after all that they want a bird then I think it will be ok. in
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:09 AM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Amen and good for you!

Here is a guilt-inducing story from my childhood:

I wish someone would have educated my parents before my sister was allowed to buy a $10 "grab-bag" parakeet from PetSmart (not hand-fed...totally scared of us) as our family's first bird. This was before my parents had committed to understanding birds etc. and they had no clue what they were doing. My family is full of animal lovers and we have always been good pet-owners....so a parakeet seemed easy enough...Especially since SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE WE KNEW HAD THEM! Spoiler alert: They had no idea what they were doing either. It seemed like half the kids we knew had had a parakeet at some point, and most didn't live longer than a few years (even though life expectancy can extend beyond 10). I suppose that, in comparison,we took better care of Granny than most kids, but that is sad/pathetic, as we were really clueless!

My sister was 8 and insisted that she was responsible enough to own a pet (after weeks of begging, and persuasion, my mom caved). My mom had sworn off fish and my sister wanted a parakeet because our adult neighbor had a tame one that could talk a bit. Erroneously, we thought that with a few weeks of work, we would achieve similar results. My mom just liked the idea of a less poopy pet (compared to my hamster) that was, reportedly, "low-maintenance" (AHAHAHA!).

We purchased a book that we read a lot beforehand (sold next to the parakeets at, DING DING DING- PetSmart) and we got a used cage from someone....I know we cleaned it, but who knows how! The people at the shop were as ignorant as we were.

As a 3rd/4th grader, I read the parakeet book obsessively and it didn't talk about any of the dangers for birds other than windows and fans (this was a book written for adults on parakeet ownership, so it should have contained more information, given the fact that it was a chapter book).

The book mentioned spontaneous egg laying, but didn't say what could happen as a result of egg-binding or what humans could do to cause iegg-laying (and it certainly didn't make egg-laying sound dangerous, just said add a cuttlebone to the cage). It talked about how to set up nest boxes and encouraged feeding the bird from your hand with treats, but it didn't ever say to feed pelleted food and showed pictures of birds eating seed mix (?!?!). Thankfully, we did feed bits of fruit/veg just out of common sense, but that poor bird led a miserable life. Her cage was clean and she always had lots of food, water and millet, but she ate a seed mix and she had like 2 toys (which she was scared of and never used).

The book definitely didn't mention respiratory issues (and all of our past experience had been with other people's hand-raised birds at that point) or the importance of veterinary care, nor the fact that birds hid illness. Granny never went to the vet!!!!(??!) There was no discussion of so many key details....Things essential to basic parrot care were missing and we had no idea.

For some reason, despite all of our exposure to larger parrots etc, there was a disconnect. My parents never would have allowed my sister to buy an African Grey-- even if they could have gotten one for free...They knew that was a huge commitment...but parakeets were like hamsters in their minds (and in ours). Plus, at this point in time (pre-internet), a lot of people were doing dumb things with/around their birds, so consulting others often yielded further misinformation.

Our household was lively, so Granny certainly was in the main room and had lots to look at/listen to, but man.....so sad- we had no idea how long it would have taken to bond with her and instead, just grumbled about the fact that Granny wasn't a good bird because she wasn't hand-tamed. Although she probably never would have been as tame as a hand-raised parakeet, it would be interesting to go back in time, knowing what I know now. I am not even sure how old she was when we got her!

As a kid, I tried for days to get her to step up, but we didn't understand how long it would take to build trust with a non-hand-raised bird, so I just sat there like a statue with my hand in the cage and millet it my palm (hoping she might inch closer)--In hindsight, this was insensitive, as I shouldn't have done this one day 1... After about a week of this, there was a teeny-tiny bit of progress, but my sister got mad that I was "trying to steal her bird" and told me to stop ("You wouldn't let me touch your hamster, so why do you think you can just stick you hand in my bird's cage without permission?!". Within about a month, the novelty had completely worn off for my sister, and my mom had to hound her every morning to wash and fill Granny's food and water (something my sister swore would never happen). Many days, my mom ended up having to do it all for her, for the poor bird's sake.

Poor Granny lived for a decent chunk of time, given her horrible situation---I want to say 6+ years (AMAZINGLY, given the amount of Teflon, cleaners etc that was likely used...heck, that is probably what eventually did her in..) My mom felt terrible for her but was up to her eyeballs with kids and had no idea what to do about the fact that this bird was terrified of people and cage-bound. At the time, Granny seemed happy enough (or at least healthy and singing), but her existence was quite small, and none of us would have felt comfortable keeping a larger parrot in its cage all day/night etc.

After Granny, we all got an education and understood what a terrible job we had done, but, face-value, we were doing everything that anyone had ever told us to do, and compared to other households, we were doing a better job of keeping up with the bare minimum. Honestly, compared to most childrens' pets at the time, Granny probably had it pretty good---which is AWFUL, considering. It's so unfortunate that my intelligent family of animal-lovers felt that a parakeet would be an acceptable first pet for a child...but that is how they are marketed, and ignorance is rampant.

Granny spent most of her life in that cage--- except when she escaped a few times (terrifying, as her wings were never clipped and she could have broken her neck). We all know how wrong we were now, but I think the general populous still thinks of parakeets as we did so many years ago (like a hamster, goldfish, or a mouse).

It really upsets me to think about all of the things we did wrong and it upsets me even more that other people are likely continuing to make the same mistakes....if not worse ones...These birds are very intelligent but, because of their size, price, availability and location within PetSmart, people don't understand that they require as much attention/love/stimulation as a large parrot....and then there are the people who don't even understand that much....oy....

Last edited by noodles123; 01-12-2019 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:12 AM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

im amazed they let you do that! when i worked at petsmart years ago the managers told me we can never refuse a sale except in the case where we suspect a customer is buying pet rats for feeding.

i once had a customer come in to get a crate for his dog and he was obviously not a dog lover, from the look of the poor timid boy he was unloved and kept outside. the crate he picked despite my advice was so small the dog couldnt even lie down! i told my manager theres no way im selling him that crate and my manager goes "oh yes you are what people do with or get for their pets isnt our business our business is to sell". almost just walked out but luckily the customer changed his mind.

glad to see things are changing! i get it tho, everyone knew i bred hamsters so anything involving them i got pulled for lol. people are often amazed when small animals require, like, actual care.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:47 AM
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Re: Birds aren't impulse buys!!

Quote: Originally Posted by ParrotGenie View Post
Yep reason why I see so many Conure, Cockatiels and Parakeet come in at rescues I work at and that the ones that live to make it there. People buy birds based on impulse at those places. Thinking they are cute, or child wanted the bird with zero homework done before hand. I glad you tried to educate them, but unfortunately they didn't seem to care. I could never work at those pet stores as I get fired the first week if I last even that long. Don't get me started on the sunflower seeds diet?

Then you have the poor hamsters and guinea pigs that get same treatment and cages way to under size like the stupid tiny tales hamster cages that that design to look like a toy to entice kids to want a hamster that PetSmart sell.

Guinea pigs totally get screwed...They are exotic pets with very complicated physiology and I would NEVER buy one for a kid. Aside from birds, they are the animal I feel worst for. I had one as a kid and thankfully, I researched a ton and spend $100 of lawn-mowing/babysitting money on a large cage etc (before buying one), but that was a COMPLICATED pet.

I was traumatized...For 2 weeks in 8th grade I had to independently syringe feed mine a mix of liquid vitamin c concentrate, freshly crushed pineapple juice and something else 3x daily, along with separate syringe feedings of liquefied pellets+water 3x daily in order to prevent the poor thing from bursting/dehydrating after an abrupt decrease in daily timothy hay rations (during boarding stint at the vet) caused her to have some sort of intestinal blockage/gas build-up. The syringe feedings/concoctions worked the first time, but not the second. Both times, the dietary shift that caused the blockage was the dang vet office's fault...The first time, she swelled up it was confusing/scary and overwhelming-- they said there was a 10% chance she would make it if I could manage to collect, concoct and syringe feed specific mixtures---I did. The second time she swelled up, I knew what I needed to do, but after a week of syringing, she had a seizure in my lap and died on new year's eve. It was INFURIATING, as the bag of hay I left with her was UNOPENED when I went to pick her up from boarding, and I could tell she was bloated. We left that vet permanently after that, even though they were highly regarded within the community.

Last edited by noodles123; 01-12-2019 at 12:09 PM.
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