A Kelowna woman who has spent the past 16 years rescuing and caring for vulnerable birds is asking for the public’s help to keep her bird sanctuary afloat.
The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on Kim Fargo, who is now facing the permanent closure of Petri's Treasures - Cruelty Free Feathers after losing her main source of income for the sanctuary.
Fargo usually sells her variety of crafts made from feathers of the birds she homes, such as earrings and dream-catchers, at the Kelowna Farmers Market.
However, the pandemic dramatically changed the number of vendors the market could allow, cutting the numbers in half from what they previously were.
"It was quite a panic for everybody so everybody’s kind of feeling the effects of COVID-19 ... they had to really pull back on a lot of people, so the crafters there really suffered, because the farmers needed to get out there. They are so important, the people that made the food, and they needed to be there, so I wasn’t able to get in.
"We lost the whole year that supports the whole year for our rescue and it’s been a little tough."
Fargo says she's incredibly grateful for the support from the Animal Food Bank for keeping her birds fed during this time, but also requires assistance with other expenses such as heating and vet bills.
Smaller shelters, or those that focus on pets like birds instead of dogs or cats, can sometimes seem invisible in the public eye, says Fargo.
She currently cares for 23 birds, spanning three rooms of her home and including cockatiels, lovebirds, a canary and a finch.
To her, birds are more than just her pets, and she hopes her passion encourages others to see birds in a different light.
"I actually bought a bird for my birthday and I’ve always wanted one. I was actually quite fearful of them, you know, they fly around and attack - well, they don’t - but I was just drawn to them. I’m actually a recovering addict so they were my healing space."
"I feel that these guys are very underrated when it comes to being a pet ... just because they are a smaller animal, doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same things that cats and dogs do. They are the voiceless and we need people to stand up and be their voice, so I’ve taken that on. I think more awareness needs to be brought for all animals in need and smaller shelters that have to keep running, because where are these guys going to go?"
Fargo says many of the birds she receives have been traumatized in some way, suffer from disabilities or are unable to be cared for by the current owners, for a variety of reasons.
"They come from many different situations ... it’s not always just one, and it’s not always a bad situation they come from.
"There’s cases where people didn’t realize how much work they would be, the care that they needed, the time they needed or they can’t go away on vacation or they can’t do certain things or it’s yelling all the time ... there’s also people that are loving and are caring and want to keep them, but life has really kicked them in the butt, and they need help and can’t keep them due to health reasons, or their passing, or family’s passing."
At the beginning, it was easier to self-fund the sanctuary with only five or six birds, but expenses are now starting to add up.
In the midst of a tough year losing the sanctuary's income source as a result of the pandemic, Fargo says any kind of support would be welcomed as they look to the future.
"Do what you can. There’s no pressure. I’ve never, ever, ever pressured anyone to support. I’m pretty independent and stubborn and I always find a way, but this year’s been pretty hard for me to find that way, so any help is wonderful, even if it's just a message on my Facebook page sending some love and support. That means just as much as somebody being able to donate."
"I don’t want to close and I don’t plan on staying closed, I just need some help to just move forward."
If you’d like to donate to help keep the self-funded sanctuary in business, visit the GoFundMe page.
You can also e-transfer to Fargo's email address, or donate gift cards (no bought goods, including food) to the sanctuary, bought at the following locations:
- London Drugs
- Total Pet