Leadership

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Elizabeth is doing something new for animal welfare. She is changing how we see pigeons and doves – as pets! She is the founder and director of Palomacy, which is perhaps the first organization dedicated solely to rescuing and adopting domestic pigeons and doves. Elizabeth is not afraid to challenge tradition with this new idea, but she does so with respect for others. One could say: ‘They are just pigeons’. Yet, Palomacy fills a need that exists: There are many pigeon and dove rescuers crisscrossing the country – from Maine to California and from Washington to Florida. But there are still few shelters that know what to do with these animals when surrendered, and few resources for people who want to adopt. Elizabeth saw a need and built Palomacy from the ground up into a network of committed volunteers, rescuers, and adopters. She is on the front lines every day: as program coordinator, volunteer coordinator, adoption coordinator, rescue coordinator, educator, and mentor, modeling excellence, commitment, and kindness. Because of Elizabeth’s tireless commitment and ability to motivate others, the number of agencies willing to take in pigeons and doves is growing. The number of people who are aware of these animals is growing.

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Pigeons (and doves) have a long and storied role in human history. They are the products of human activity for food and sport yet are unseen by most people. When finding a lost or injured pigeon or dove on the street, many people will rescue and bring it to a shelter; they hope that someone will take care of the poor bird. But shelters - already responsible for a myriad of animals – generally lack the knowledge and capacity to take care of and re-home these birds. Elizabeth’s mission is to show how we can bring domestic pigeons and doves into our lives as pets instead of their more traditional uses. She has started a new chapter in our shared history, adding to the complexity of our relationship with them, and providing for a richer, more compassionate life for both bird and person.

Elizabeth has made a difference for hundreds of people in many ways. Through dozens of public outreach events and childhood education programs a year, she and volunteers provide an opportunity to interact with nature that many people in urban settings do not get. For these people, the experience of holding a clean, calm bird can be transformative and highly educational. Elizabeth is at almost all outreach events, meeting and educating hundreds of people a year. Under her guidance, Palomacy provides resources, expertise and help to anyone who asks; works with the elderly or sick who may no longer keep their flocks; connects rescuers with adopters; provides staff training and education programs for shelters; and is even starting a therapy animal program. Personally, I know I can always count on Elizabeth.

I admire Elizabeth for her seemingly endless ability to give back. She sets high standards and is creative and a good communicator, so she is a great mentor and teacher. She works easily with complexity so she is able to be a good listener and provide constructive advice. She constantly learns new things and freely shares knowledge with others. She will pitch in and help with whatever needs doing. She provides moral and spiritual encouragement on a regular basis. Hugs are given to every one, every time, coming and going.

A donation of $50,000 would be game-changing for Palomacy. There is always a shortage of space to house rescues; Palomacy is constantly facing medical bills; and there are very few resources to help raise funds. The best use may be to address all of these needs. For example, $10,000 represents 25% of Palomacy's annual medical costs. $5,000 in building supplies would allow Palomacy to establish a second public aviary with a partner location. For $25,000, a volunteer coordinator could rally resources to ongoing programmatic needs. And perhaps a capital campaign could be designed.

Not long ago in history, no one saved stray cats and dogs. In the 21st century, Palomacy is taking animal welfare just a little further. Elizabeth recognizes that if you haven’t met a pigeon in this way, this all sounds quite odd. But it works: People really connect with these birds as pets. They are smart, resilient, calm, and loving – traits that we humans surely embrace. Companionship with a domestic pigeon or dove is proving for many to be very satisfying. Elizabeth brings this to light.

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