ABOUT UNDER MY WING
Under My Wing Avian Refuge, exist to provide captive birds with individualized care, the companionship of a flock, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being and educating the public of the complex needs of parrots in captivity and the crisis facing them.
Under My Wing Avian Refuge AKA Under My Wing and UMWAR
Cause Area (NTEE Code)
Bird Sanctuary/Preserve (D32)
Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)
Animal Training, Behavior (D61)
OUR CONTACT INFORMATION
Under My Wing Avian Refuge
1243 Rte 23 North
Wantage NJ 07461 US
Tel. +1 973-702-7770
Paula's Cell +1 862-268-3059 (Emergencies Only)
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Luis Vazquez, an officer with the Passaic County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said charges against the business owner “may be pending.” He described the situation as a “hoarding case turned into a rescue.” Vazquez said though the couple was breeding birds in the shop’s backroom, there is no evidence they were selling them.
Sejas called the animals his “therapy birds,” Vazquez said. He and his partner cooperated by surrendering the birds to rescue groups.
For as bad as the conditions were, rescuers said the birds mostly appeared to be in good health. Paula Ashfield, who runs a bird sanctuary in Sussex County, removed the white umbrella cockatoo from a cat carrier and danced in a circle while it perched on her arm, bobbing its head as she sang a tune. Afterward, it belted out a few excited screeches.
The business owner’s partner said she would most miss the cockatoo, which she named Bumble, and a red-lored parrot she called Charlie. When Charlie was brought out of the room, she cried out the bird’s name, whistled and took pictures of it with her cell phone as tears streamed down her face.
Sejas said having the birds helped him deal with the impact of the robbery and assault in April 2011, which was documented in a police report. He was left severely hurt with broken ribs and head injuries which led him to get 22 stitches and five stitches near his eyebrow, and bruises throughout his body. He said it took him more than two months to recover from his injuries, and one of his doctors told him that he should focus on things he likes to help him get better.
“It was like therapy, the birds distracted me,” he said. “Every time I would see that one was born it would make me happy.”
He said as a child growing up in the countryside of Bolivia, he often would go out to look at birds and would often bring some home with him. He said he loved to raise animals as a hobby, remembering that at one time he raised rabbits and guinea pigs in Bolivia.
When he started homing birds in the backroom of his store, he said he thought it was the best place because it was near the backyard.
“It started off with one type of bird and I wanted others,” Sejas said, fidgeting with a cord in his hands. “It was like a collection for me.”
He said that he bought some of the birds at local pet shops and flea markets, but most were born in his own shop. Witnessing the births was a recurring moment of joy, he and his partner said.
“The animals were so beautiful when they were born, and as they grow they get to know you,” said the woman, who did not give her name.
Sejas said last week a fire inspector went to his shop and found the birds, and told him he had too many.
“I was so scared, I didn’t know it was against the law,” he said.
The Passaic fire inspector, Michael Shatrin, issued a notice of violation to the business last week, listing four offenses – having an illegal bedroom, excessive storage, a malfunctioning fire extinguisher and a back door that was inaccessible.
The business owner said he planned on moving some of the birds to larger cages but didn’t get around to it. He also said he tried to control the mouse and roach problem, sometimes spending hours cleaning the store.
The couple is being allowed to keep one of the birds – a blue-fronted parrot called Lolita – as long as they take it to a veterinarian and keep it at home.
No birds were found dead, but some newborns that were removed last week did not survive, said Ashfield, founder of Under My Wing Avian Refuge in Wantage. She spent hours scrubbing the back room on Thursday and took with her some finches and canaries.
Most of the other birds were distributed among four different rescue groups and sanctuaries on Monday – two in New Jersey, one in New York and one in Maryland.
On Monday, Ashfield wore rubber gloves and plastic covers on her boots while she removed the birds, and left the room grimacing.
“We got roaches flying off the walls, into breeding cages, everywhere,” she said.After the birds are tested for diseases, most will go up for adoption by the various groups, Ashfield said.
To donate to the rescue effort, visit the Under My Wing Avian Refuge website at Facebook.com/UMWAR or email. Donate to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PASSAIC — Nearly five years ago, Luis Sejas, a Market Street business owner, was bludgeoned by a man bearing a hammer or a machete – knocked out cold while his cash register was looted of $1,500.
To help him cope with the trauma of a serious injury and the robbery, a doctor told the now 65-yearold Sejas to take up a hobby, he said. So he harkened back to his childhood days in Bolivia, where he loved bird-watching, and he decided to adopt a two exotic birds of his own, caring for them in the back of his bicycle repair shop.
What started with just a few pet birds spiraled out of control in the five years since, culminating in an emergency rescue operation on Monday where volunteers removed nearly 200 birds, many of them exotic breeds, from deplorable conditions.
The rescuers found mice scurrying about, cockroach-infested nesting boxes and birds living in cramped, less-than-ideal living quarters of the shop’s back room. Cockatiels were stuffed 16 to a cage made for two, while two Amazon yellow-naped parrots were living in a small crate.
The business owner, who has not been charged with a crime, said he meant well for the birds. And for him and his partner of 20 years, the rescue operation was a heart-wrenching ordeal.
“This is torture for me,” he said in Spanish, inhaling a deep breath while tears welled in his eyes. “To see the empty room is really difficult for me. It used to always make me happy to go in there.”
More than 100 cockatiels, about 40 mourning doves, and dozens of other birds — including a cockatoo, four Amazon parrots and eight sun conure parakeets — were discovered in the back room of the business after a series of city inspections last week, authorities said.
Some 30 wire cages were stacked one atop the other, some reaching the ceiling of the back kitchen.
ESTABLISHED IN 2007
UNDER MY WING FREE FLIGHT AND OPEN CAGE ENVIRONMENT
FOR EXOTIC BIRDS
Our Devotion and Commitment are Continually Changing Parrots Lives