Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, now out in paperback, kindle, and audio from WCY Books and author Tamira Thayne, is dedicated in part to long-time pigeon advocate Johnna Seeton, who has worked for many years in Pennsylvania to put an end to their horribly cruel pigeon shoots.
Who Chains You caught up to Johnna, and asked her some questions about this abusive practice and her efforts on behalf of the pigeons.
To make sure our audience is on the same page with us, what exactly are pigeon shoots?
Pigeon shoots are barbaric contests in which live pigeons are stuffed into small traps on the ground. These nine traps, which are electronically controlled by an operator, are situated within a scoring ring on a field. The shooter stands in a certain spot with his or her double barreled shotgun and yells, “Pull!”
The operator pushes a button which releases a single pigeon from the trap. The shooter gets two shots at the bird, as the pigeon desperately tries to escape. The scoring occurs if the pigeon lands within the balloon-shaped ring. It doesn’t matter if the bird is wounded or dead, as long as he/she falls within the ring.
This continues until the shooter has had the opportunity to blow away five pigeons, one at a time. Then the “Trapper Boys and Girls” run onto the field to gather up the dead and wounded birds, throwing them into nets they are carrying. As they are doing this, another trapper loads more pigeons into the traps.
Many of the wounded birds fly beyond the scoring ring. Hours may go by before the trappers conduct a “perimeter check”. Of course, they can’t possibly find all the wounded birds; they fly too far a distance. The trappers who collected the wounded birds from the scoring ring bring the birds back to a partially enclosed area where they kill the pigeons.
We have seen this done many times by various methods, such as pulling off their heads, using scissors to cut off their heads, and slamming them against a barrel.
We understand from reliable sources that large-scale gambling takes place at these cruel events. We have returned one day, two days, as many as five days after a pigeon shoot, and we have found live, wounded pigeons.
How did you first get involved with advocating for the pigeons?
I first learned about what was happening to the pigeons in 1986, through my attendance at a Trans-Species meeting in Grantville, PA. A woman named Judith Black, along with Doris Gitman, told the attendees about the Hegins Pigeon Shoot, which they’d attended in 1985. We were all horrified at the stories they relayed!
Trans-Species organized a huge protest at the Hegins, PA pigeon shoot on Labor Day, 1986. They also began to lobby bills to prevent pigeon shoots in PA at our State Capitol. That was the start of my dedication to ending pigeon shoots.
Have you ever rescued wounded birds after pigeon shoots, and if so, were any of them able to be saved and set free?
I have rescued many, many pigeons from various shoots in PA throughout the years. Having attended over 100 shoots from 1986-2012, I transported the wounded birds to various veterinarians and rehabilitators in the state. Even though some of the birds died, or were so badly injured they had to be euthanized, there were a large number of pigeons who were able to be saved. These beautiful birds were eventually set free!
How many years have you worked on bills against pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania, and where does that effort stand now?
I have worked on bills against pigeon shoots for 32 years! Heidi Prescott, from HSUS, now leads the lobbying effort to stop these cruel events. She lets me know when there is a chance a bill will be voted upon, and I run right to the Capitol (only two blocks from my house) to help her. The bill to prevent pigeon shoots has been introduced almost every legislative session since 1986.
The current pigeon shoot legislation is Senate Bill 612, introduced by Senator Pat Browne. It currently has 16 co-sponsors, and sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It would be helpful if readers who live in PA would contact their own State Senator and State Representative and encourage them to ask for the bill to receive a vote. Also, please ask our PA Governor Wolf to support and sign the bill when it gets to his desk.
What did you think of our new children’s book, Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament? Would other pigeon lovers enjoy it as well?
I absolutely LOVED this book! Not only was the story well-written, but the vocabulary words are a perfect teaching tool. I appreciated the entire concept, and you gave proper direction how to get involved in protecting “pidgies”. The illustrations added a beautiful visualization. I am placing copies in the offices of my doctors, dentist, and local library, as well as giving the book to my friends’ children and grandchildren.
What can you do?
If you live in PA, get active against these cruel shoots! There were two that blatantly took place in the state June 3-4, 2018, and it’s well past time folks raised their voices in opposition to the cruelty. Learn more and get involved at this Humane PA Pac link.
Some recent articles:
About the book
It was a gorgeous summer day in Central Park, and Smidge and her brother Ridge had time to share one last adventure before it was time to grow up, as Mama Pidgey primly informed them. Yuk, where was the fun in that?!
Smidge slapped Ridge’s wing with hers. “Hey, you hungry? Wanna be real birds, and scavenge the park for seeds, or go see if Mrs. Laney is providing Pidgey Take-Out today?”
Ridge rubbed his belly. “Yum, Mrs. Laney’s for sure! Maybe she put out french fries again,” he grinned mischievously.
The two were so intent on their scramble for treats that when they heard the first squawks of protest, they assumed it was just a squabble over a savory morsel. Soon the cries became louder and more frantic, and more birds joined the chorus.
Finally realizing something wasn’t right, Smidge and Ridge looked up from their breakfast.
But it was too late—a black sack came down over their heads, engulfing them both and turning their world to darkness…
Who was stealing the city’s pigeons, and what’s to become of Smidge, Ridge, and the others? Find out in Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, excellent for ages 8 and up, and perfect for humane education in today’s classrooms. Includes Vocab Builders, as well as information about the very real threat to pigeons, and what you can do to help these wonderful birds.
About the Author
Tamira Thayne is an animal activist, and the founder and former CEO of Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit organization seeking an end to dog chaining.
She is also the founder of Who Chains You Books, publishing titles for those who believe people—and animals—deserve to be free. She is the author of Happy Dog Coloring Book, Capitol in Chains, Foster Doggie Insanity, The Wrath of Dog, The King’s Tether, The Knights Chain, The Curse of Cur, (upcoming) and the co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles.
Tamira lives by a river in the woods of northern Virginia, with her husband, daughter, one dog, six cats, and hundreds of outside birds and critters she adores from afar.
About the Illustrator
C. A. Wulff has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-four years, volunteering with Ohio humane group Valley Save-a-Pet. An author, artist, and animal advocate, Wulff uses her art and writing to spread the joy of the human/canine bond.
Her books, Born Without a Tail: the Making of an Animal Advocate and Circling the Waggins; How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness, chronicle her personal journey of animal rescue. Her books How to Change the World in 30 Seconds and Finding Fido. are guides for animal advocates and pet parents. You can follow her on her blog “Up on the Woof”, where she shares biscuits of dog-related info. [thewoof.wordpress.com]
Wulff currently resides in one of our nation’s National Forests with her lifemate and five dogs. She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.