Prison rehomes rescued pigeons to teach new skills to inmates

Prison rehomes rescued pigeons to teach new skills to inmates

A flock of rescued pigeons have settled into life in an unlikely new home; a women's prison.

Eighteen ex-racing pigeons were rescued by officers in March when their owner's health meant they could no longer take care of them.

One of the rescued pigeons © RSPCARescuers Kirsten Ormerod and Brian Milligan had been helping to care for the birds, in Kent, by providing food and water when their owner signed them over for rehoming.

Kirsten said: "The birds were very hungry and thirsty when we were called in to help them and the conditions they were being kept in weren't ideal. Unfortunately, the birds' owners had been unable to provide the care they needed due to failing health and, although they loved their pets, they agreed it would be best to sign them over to us so we could find them new homes.

"We understand that this can be a difficult decision for owners but we're glad that we could be there to help them and ensure the best outcome for the birds."

The birds were taken in by the charity's specialist wildlife centre at Mallydams Wood in East Sussex.

Mallydams rehabilitation team manager Richard Thompson said:

The birds didn't have any paperwork and seven were unringed but were clearly not feral birds. Some had feather loss on their chests and matted faeces around their feet but it didn¿t take long until they were looking much healthier.

He added: "Two birds were registered as being Belgium-bred while the others were all British ringed birds and one had a small lump on its head that was removed by our vet. They were all treated for lice, canker, coccidiosis and worm burdens before we set about looking for new homes for them."

Pigeons at Mallydams © RSPCAThe birds were taken in by HMP Foston Hall, in Derbyshire; a women's closed category prison and young offenders institution. The prison has approximately 40 pigeons which they've taken in from various backgrounds over the last two years. These include racing pigeons as well as specialised breeds such as Fan-tailes, Tumblers and Tippers.

Prisoners help to maintain the pigeon loft and care for the birds as part of an animal care course which is run by the prison's education provider.

A Prison Service spokesperson said:

Educational programmes like this help prepare offenders for jobs on release, making them less likely to reoffend and keeping the public safe.