Vets, Rescue Centres & Sample Testing


Firstly, contrary to what some people may believe, vets are not obliged to treat wildlife for free. Some may have a wildlife fund, but more likely do not.

We need to be aware that, in general, ‘pet vets’ are unlikely to have the specialist knowledge and experience of avian and exotics vets, so are less likely to be able to deal with pigeon issues or may put a bird down when an experienced rescuer would know that it could have been treated. There will always be exceptions, however, so it may be worth enquiring of your vet if you use one.

A further point to consider is that not a few vets class pigeons as ‘vermin’ and may either refuse to deal with them or put them down once you hand the bird over.

Always check what a vet’s policy is before handing a bird over!

Bird/Wildlife Rescue Centres

Be aware that a rescue centre or a bird hospital is not usually the same thing as a sanctuary. Whilst some rescue centres have a ‘no-kill’ policy and the space and resources to give birds a permanent home, most do not. Centres which are mainly concerned with rehabilitating sick or injured wildlife are likely to have a policy whereby unreleasable patients will be put down, similarly those which they do not consider will be releasable within a certain timescale.

Some of what we have said about vets can apply to rescue centres, too. Pigeon-friendly places are not always easy to find, and general wildlife centres may or may not have people experienced in rehabbing pigeons and other birds.

Always check before signing a bird over to a rescue centre. Once you have placed it in their care, its fate lies with them.

NOTE: Whilst centres do not levy a fee for taking in wildlife, it is courteous and helpful to make a donation, particularly in the few case where they will come some way to collect a ‘patient’ (most do not have the resources). They mostly have to rely on donations to survive, so treating them as a free public service or making unreasonable demands is definitely not the right approach!

Helpwildlife rescue centre lists – Location map of wildlife rescue centres UK. NOTE: not just pigeons/doves, so check descriptions.

Sample Testing

Sending off dropping samples and throat swabs is probably the best way to get a diagnosis for a sick pigeon/dove where the cause is not readily known, or illness is just suspected. Rather than simply giving a bacterial illness (for example) a name, a testing lab will test which antibiotic(s) the suspect bacteria are susceptible to, which is important given increased bacterial resistance to some common antibiotics.

Please note that the most logical approach to using testing services is to test for the most likely cause of the symptoms first, to either confirm or eliminate.  If the  test requires a blood sample you can take one yourself with instructions from the testing service or you can ask a  nurse at your veterinary surgery to take one, which is oftencheaper than a consultation fee.

All Animals Veterinary Clinic
Unit .T,
Viking House,
Daneholes Roundabout,
Stanford Road,
RM16 2XE

01375 399 033

The full test kit can be carried out using samples provided by you via the post, or using samples collected when in a consultation with Lizzie in the surgery. When a test kit is requested by post, they will send out everything required for you to collect and return the samples required for them to test your pigeons. They will grow a general bacteriology plate in order for them to carry out an antibiotic sensitivity test. This will determine which antibiotic would be most useful should  you be required to use one. Tests are available at a cost of £34.74.

They can also test specifically for  the following conditions:

• Worms 
• Cocci 
• Chlamydiosis (also known as Ornithosis) 
• Yeast 
• Fungus 
• Adenovirus (also known as Young Bird Sickness) 
• Salmonellosis (also known as Paratyphoid)