A brief recap: In March of this year, Justin Lawther uploaded videos of his eclectus parrot on the windshield wipers of his vehicle while traveling at alarming rates of speed. To any eye, it was a clear-cut case of abuse. In April, I wrote this first post asking for support in getting a petition signed (drawn up by the newly formed Committee To Save Angus) that demanded the Australian authorities take custody of Angus. It was followed by this post explaining why the petition was so important. Finally, this post, which was written once contact had been made with Justin and it was discovered that his intentions were not abusive, just tragically unsound.
As you have probably deduced from the photo above, the court’s decision was to conditionally return Angus to Justin. Two members of the Committee To Save Angus were present, one testified for the defense, but spoke honestly about the stupidity of his act. She added:
I was able to confirm that he’d been trying to educate himself by asking others for help and that he did have an excellent vet. The vet had provided a written reference and an offer to help Justin by maintaining contact with him/regular check ins. The magistrate asked if I was prepared to maintain contact as well, I said yes. He asked if I’d report any suspected cruelty to the RSPCA and I said ‘in a heartbeat'.
Justin was offered a deal. In order to regain custody of his bird, he was required to plead guilty to animal cruelty, which he did not want to do because there was no malicious intent in his actions. Verbiage was changed to “conduct likely to cause suffering” and veered away from harsh language that would legally preclude him getting his bird back.
The total cost to Justin is a $250 AUD ($264.62 USD) reimbursement fee to the RSPCA for the care and upkeep of Angus while he was in their facility, a required $200 AUD ($211.70 USD) donation to Wildlife Victoria (a wildlife rescue), many death threats and the complete upheaval of his life over the past several months. Compared to what he was facing in fines and possible jail time, he got a bargain.
Justin was, of course, elated to have his bird back, but I presume that everyone was more interested in seeing how Angus was feeling. Angus loves Justin, and there is a reason for that: there is trust, there is bonding, there is happiness. A bird will only tell it like it is. Angus loves Justin. That is the most important part of this story.
I know many of you are disappointed, perhaps angry, with the outcome of the trial. I know that some of you are concerned that with the terrible judgment he has shown in the past, Angus might not be safe in his care. I fully understand those fears.
It has been suggested that Justin is not mentally stable. There is probably some truth to that. I don’t, however, feel that it has any bearing on his ability to provide Angus with a good home. Justin is a troubled man. He has had a hard life. I think that Angus gives Justin stability and purpose. Their reunion was photographed and video taped. Justin was a calm and rational man in the footage. A committee member noted that he is an altogether different person with his bird, than he was without it. Animals have the unique ability to bring a sense of tranquility to humans.
Please watch this video about war veterans with PTSD healing themselves by working with abused parrots, and read this article about the use of animals in human therapy. Hopefully, these will help you to feel better about the decision of the court to return Angus to Justin.
However you wind up feeling after reading this, I ask you to let Justin and Angus move forward without interference or threat. Justin is committed to providing Angus with everything he needs, and I believe he will do it.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
I have been watching this case for a while as I was also horrified by the initial stories that I had read. I was not happy however with RSPCA Australia’s first responses and felt quite ashamed. I am happy to hear everythings moving forward possitively for Justin & Angus now tho. Thanks for posting this. One thing that does get my ‘goat’ tho is Billy’s comment above. Saying that a whole country is filled with ‘hateful people filled with murderous intent’ purely because somebody vented there feelings over what we ALL considered at the time to be an horrific act is very small minded. And I have no idea where you get this … ‘This is the country that beats up handicapped people in wheelchairs and leaves them for dead’. I doubt you have ever been to Australia. DOn’t knock it untill you have tried it. JAC Perth, Westerh AUstralia
Dear Audrey, and anyone who agrees with the sentiment that if an animal is raised for food it is acceptable to slaughter it. How would you feel if your pet had 2 offspring and you kept one to pamper and the other was taken away and treated inhumanely all its life and then slaughtered to be eaten? Does that really sound logical to you? Does that really justify the entire animal industry? That it is ok to be unbelievably cruel to animals as long as they are being raised for slaughter? Please don’t kid yourself that food animals are raised in sweet green fields and live a happy life until they arre killed for human consumption. They are socially deprived, nutritionally stressed, emotionally and physically restricted. The transport and slaughter process is horrendous, vicious and terrifying for the animals. We are all guilty, even if you are a vegan, if you feed your pet commercial foods, these are made from slaughtered animals. Instead of burying your head in the sand and pretending that all is well, find out what you can do to ease the extreme suffering of these poor animals.
i was shocked when i saw the shoot, but i am ok .with the court"s verdict. but nobody should behave like this with thier pets
I think the sad thing here is that some people think their way is the only way, and are ready to intrude into another persons life when something doesn’t follow their idea of correctness. I beg to differ with you sorry souls. Just looking at “Angus” on Justin’s shoulder shows that the parrot is well taken care of, and looks extremely happy and healthy. No harm was done to Angus, and the courts seemed to agree, but Justin was subject to the loss of his time and money defending himself. If I were in his shoes, I would slap a lawsuit on the person that filed the frivolous charges in the first place, to recoup my losses. People need to learn to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS and stay out of other people’s lives!
I will let Justin and Angus move forward. :)
Happy ending for Justin and Angus. Justin does adore Angus and I believe he will be looked after nicely.
Now that Justin has paid (financially and mentally) for his naivety and has the the contacts to help him properly care for Angus, let us hope that any over zealousness by all the officials involved, has not had a detrimental effect on Angus that is irrecoverable.
The one thing that is revealed here is that Australians are a very hateful people filled with murderous intent. Aviary Rhonda actually boasts about wanting to kill Justin. It is shocking how many people were eager to kill a man who was trying to be nice to his bird buddy. No harm was done to the bird. Angus would have jumped off right away if he did not like it. This is the country that beats up handicapped people in wheelchairs and leaves them for dead. Now I see why.
Pets definitely play a major role in somforting and healing their human companions and have a remarkable loyalty and readiness to give and love unconditionally. While the circumstances of this case are indeed very sad, regardless of the the outcome it is plain to see that there is a great deal of love and caring here .Whatever his shortcomings may be, evident that his owner adores Angus, and from the look of things this seems to be one very contented happy bird.
everybody deserved a second chance i dont think he will do it again as he has too much to loose his best friend .
Thank you, Carrie, for adding that here. I had put this info on the facebook page, but it needs to be seen here as well. I think it is a very good sign that Justin so quickly recognized that Angus wasn’t well and acted immediately by taking him to the vet. He was also smart enough to bring one of his court appointed contacts with him for additional backing. Just FYI, psitticosis is a bacterial disease that is passed from bird to bird (it is also one of the few that can be passed to humans). The stress Angus was under would suppress the immune system enough to make matters worse, but it has nothing to do with causing the illness. It is impossible to say where Angus picked this up, but I have my suspicions. Justin lives in a single bird home. I am very disappointed that the RSPCA sent Justin home with a sick bird. Fortunately, Justin was on top of it and did what had to be done.
Angus is back with his owner Justin but its not over by a long shot. While with the RSPCA , Angus did start to show symptoms of psittacosis(a stress related illness). They advised Justin at the handover that they believed that the stress of separation had brought the illness out. the rspca had given antibiotics to the bird and told Justin he was well now. Justin took the bird to his vet the next day as he felt all was not right!! Angus is not in the clear at all and is now back on antibiotics. I just want people to know that he is taking the bird’s health issues seriously. He hasn’t just assumed that Angus was in the clear and doesn’t need antibiotics because the RSPCA said so. The court had not said he had to take the bird straight to the vet, he’s done this of his own accord.
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