Who and Why
Our foster program targets candidates with mood disorders, especially PTSD typically consistent with veterans of combat (see Psychology Today, Lafeber, and Today). These are mental scars that will never heal, but the right emotional support animal can smooth.
Dogs make great service animals in many respects because they are easily trained, take to anybody, and aren't a lifelong commitment. For emotional support of someone who can snap and rip another person's head off, you don't want a dog ready to jump into a fray. You want a peace keeper not a second trigger. The horse option is cute, impractical, and sturdy. They don't care and you won't worry about incidentally hurting them physically or psychologically.
Parrots are precisely the opposite of dogs in many ways and fragile. They are a lifelong commitment like a human partner. Many species are tool makers, with intelligence comparable to great apes like Chimpanzees. Like people, they are independent with complex social relationships. They choose and unchoose you. Getting into a scrap could void your parrot relationship or damage them permanently.
Having a parrot with you is not only comforting, it is distracting you from potential triggers by providing a positive relationship. Like any other partnership, they want to please you as much as you want to please them. Most will go out of their way to reserve their pooping for a special area. Many will readily potty on command given a safe range to do so in.
Many parrots have been through a lot of human-caused trauma. Even without the dark history, some species like the cockatoos and macaws get overly bound to one person and consistency of handling. Changes can be devastating to them, which is what makes them so perfect for this job. If you love your bird, the last thing you want is something to cause them to start plucking, mutilating, or escalating their existing nervous conditions.
Only animals who are socially agreeable are allowed in the program. You don't want to take an animal out into public as an emotional support animal who attacks people. A parrot will invite people and put smiles on most faces, which adds to reducing the potential triggers of a mood disorder.
If you are not in our program, the donation for registry is modest:
(see our registry on Faceebook)
Our registry and printed ID card are free to those participating in the program. When asked if your parrot is a service animal, you answer only with the card to avoid legal problems. Many states are now citing and fining people who misstate emotional support as service animals. Many establishments are now using this as an excuse to literally chase you down and refuse service.
The ADA and many state law makers still don't appreciate the importance of mental health or emotional support animals. Many grocery stores and offices of social security refuse emotional support animals while hospitals, doctors offices, nursing homes, most restaurants, etc. do. Our advice is to not patronize those places that refuse your emotional support animal.
Report those who bar entry of an emotional support animal to our Facebook group so they can be listed as failing to be supportive of veteran needs. They don't deserve your or any of our business if they can't respect your needs as a veteran or that the emotional support animal actually protects everyone around you just by being there.
Come as a volunteer/visitor and leave as a foster parront. Like dating, it sounds easier than it is because the criteria for completion is commitment to a loving marriage for life. That doesn't happen in one visit. It happens in as many visits as it takes to form the right bond.
We will not look at your service or medical records or ask about them, nor do we need to. We have staff qualified to see if you have a valid need or not to participate. It is your responsibility to have a regular record to show the need for an emotional support animal. Talking to us is confidential, but if you are seeking counseling we are likely to refer you to professional services.
We have two types of fosters: those who can support the animal, and those who can't. We do not charge a fee and this is not an adoption. The animal remains the technical property of the sanctuary. You cannot sell or convey it, and upon your death it comes here. Upon its death, we need a necropsy for our records. The difference is whether we or you provide for medical expenses and healthy diet.
We do screen for problematic living conditions, but generally to help you with establishing the a safe and enriching environment for the bird. We do not expect perfection and we aren't here to judge.
We see animals and people living happily in a full range from pristine to hording conditions. We also see them miserable. We simply want healthy and happy. We are here to help make sure things will work for you and the bird. Our visits and communications are protected as confidential.
Special needs animals who cannot be admitted to the property due to communicable disease, behavioral issues, species conflicts, etc. can be part of the program but would require the participant and person surrendering the animal to make arrangements. We would simply make the contact and the animal is never in our system. They can qualify as emotional support animals for housing purposes, but you won't need an ID card for that.