Two representatives of Mickaboo Companion Bird rescue -- lomaprieta (a member of this community) and someone I did not know -- stole three cockatiels from my house yesterday morning, which would seem to indicate that Mickaboo is currently in possession of stolen property.
selasphorus, a former moderator of this community, and her husband eclipsegryph are divorcing. I will say as little about the divorce itself as I possibly can: their personal business is personal and none of parrot_lovers' concern. However, Mickaboo's involvement, including the unlawful seizure of contested pet cockatiels, IS the business of this community, which contains many current or former Mickaboo supporters and volunteers -- myself included. I really would like to keep my head down and let the legal system sort this out, but I'm overriding that impulse, because if this had happened to anyone else, I would want to know about it.
Before their divorce turned contentious, the verbal agreement between selasphorus and eclipsegryph regarding the disposition of family pets, all of which were acquired during the course of the marriage and all of which are considered community property under California law, was that selasphorus would take the cats with her when she left, and eclipsegryph would keep the cockatiels. The rest of the birds would be taken into Mickaboo for either fosterage or adoption, however selasphorus decided. eclipsegryph and I have been taking care of the cockatiels for the past five weeks.
Mickaboo's involvement on the day of selasphorus's departure was a surprise: eclipsegryph and I were under the impression that all the birds that were going to foster/adopt -- that is to say, Gojira the linnie and Ciatol and Elijah the budgies -- had already gone. We assumed, erroneously, that selasphorus would be taking her greencheek Mori with her when she left. It was only when we began loading the U-Haul trailer that her family had brought, and asking questions about how Mori's cage would fit, that she admitted Mickaboo representatives were on their way to collect him. She made no mention of any other reason for their presence, so we were again surprised when lomaprieta and her associate brought two vehicles.
selasphorus, lomaprieta and the other woman from Mickaboo entered my personal bedroom, without permission, against my wishes, to collect the finches I was caring for on selasphorus's behalf. This is also of questionable legality, as I was informed later by an attorney, but I backed down at the time because I didn't want to start a fight. I did, however, go outside to clear my head. We allowed them to load up the finches and Mori, all of us watching from outside the house. This is why, when lomaprieta emerged with the carrier holding Aki, Aya, and Alcyone, we were unable to stop her. She all but ran to her car. eclipsegryph, understandably distraught at the unforeseen abduction of his pets, followed selasphorus to her family's car, saying "You can't take the cockatiels, you can't take them", and lomaprieta yelled back "They're not hers anymore" (referring to selasphorus), and the two drove away with them.
Mickaboo has flagrantly overstepped their mandate: even in cases of extreme neglect or outright abuse, animal control officers (which is to say: the representatives of a government agency not to be confused with a private non-profit rescue organization) need the equivalent of a warrant to seize animals against their owners' will. These cockatiels are beloved housepets, in no danger in eclipsegryph's and my care -- AND EVEN IF THEY WERE, MICKABOO REPRESENTATIVES HAD NO RIGHT TO TAKE THEM. Which of the divorcing couple ultimately owns the cockatiels is for the divorce lawyers to settle, not Mickaboo.
Benefit of a very slight doubt: it's possible that lomaprieta and the other woman acted on their own initiative, and their actions weren't condoned by the organizations as a whole, but Mickaboo is still on the hook: their Mickaboo volunteer status is how they got into the house. It is also possible that selasphorus lied, and Mickaboo is unaware that selasphorus is not the sole owner of the birds in their care, and that they are marital property and cannot be surrendered without the signature of BOTH their owners. At no point did Mickaboo representatives even attempt to contact eclipsegryph, which is damned sloppy from a legal standpoint: if eclipsegryph wanted to, he'd be well within his rights to demand the return of ALL the birds, not just the Aki, Aya, and Alcyone. From the speed at which the cockatiels were whisked out of the house (leaving their food and cage behind), it is clear that resistance was expected. Those cockatiels are not selasphorus's exclusive property to sign over; sending them away out of eclipsegryph's reach is theft.
In any case, there is no place in the world for "rescue" organizations who illegally remove pets from caring homes. If Mickaboo as an organization deserves to continue to exist, they need to return eclipsegryph's cockatiels PROMPTLY, and have a serious talk with every single employee and volunteer about what they can and cannot legally do as its representatives. The actions taken by Mickaboo's agents reflect directly on the integrity of the organization.
I respectfully suggest that anyone currently involved with Mickaboo Cockatiel Rescue carefully consider whether or not to continue their support. I will answer whatever questions I can, but I am extremely hurt and angry over this situation, and may take some time getting around to comments. I will be forthcoming with any progress updates: as of this posting, Mickaboo was sent a formal letter of demand in the form of an e-mail message, but we have not yet received a response. eclipsegryph is meeting with his attorney, and depending on the advice he receives, we may be contacting the police later today.
EDITED TO ADD: Someone claiming to represent the CEO of Mickaboo has responded in the comments below: there has still been no response to the e-mail demand directly, nor has anyone attempted to get in touch with eclipsegryph or myself via email or telephone. If the comment is genuine, it seems to indicate that Mickaboo has no intention of releasing Aki, Aya, or Alcyone back into their home without a court order -- which means eclipsegryph will be forced to file suit to get his pets back.
The organization's interest in maintaining, in foster care, cockatiels who have a loving home remains unfathomable. However, I will leave that to the litigators. Thank you all for your attention to this matter; I will update the situation when I can.