Help Fenimore Fly!
GoFundMe Campaign: HELP FENIMORE FLY or paypal.me/olivesplace
Baby pigeon Fenimore was found last summer abandoned on a sidewalk after a poultry show. A vet tech brought her to Olive's Place Dove & Pigeon Sanctuary. Sweet Fenimore seemed like a typical young pigeon at first, but after several months she had not developed as typical of birds her age. She had not become fully feathered or started to fly, and she was often tired. We brought Fenimore to the Boren Veterinary Hospital for a checkup and ran multiple tests. She underwent a scan which revealed accumulated fatty tissue, and a fatty mass by her liver. Ruling out other common problems, we suspect hypothyroidism, and our vets strongly suggested testing to be certain before starting treatment. There is little in the medical literature about this issue in birds (let alone pigeons specifically) - so documenting Fenimore's case may help future birds.
Fenimore is a feisty, curious girl, and we want to give her a happy life here at the sanctuary. We're committed to seeing her develop into an adult and being able to fly. Her vet costs thus far have totaled about $1200, and we expect another $300-500 for a follow-up scan and bloodwork - in addition to potential medication costs and travel to vet visits. Fenimore will appreciate any help her fans can contribute!
We are very lucky to have a great team of veterinarians at the Boren Teaching Hospital at OSU. Fenimore's doctors arranged for a (prohibitively expensive) test to be conducted through a special research fund to confirm her suspected rare hormone condition. Given the treatment it would entail, it is very important to confirm the diagnosis. Fenimore was brought in for testing - along with 3 other Olive's Place pigeons to establish a normal baseline, as there is no data on pigeons. Their blood was drawn, then they were given a special drug that stimulates hormone release, and after some hours blood was drawn again for comparison. I gave a lot of careful consideration to deciding to involve the other pigeons. While there is risk in any medical procedure for birds, we determined that the risk was very low, and the benefit to Fenimore was great. Feni and her 3 brave flockmates all did very well and went through the experience just fine. We await confirmation of the results.
Fenimore's preliminary test results indicate that she has hypothyroidism. After this is confirmed by another lab, she will be the first pigeon diagnosis in the literature. Unfortunately, this will mean meds for life, but on the bright side, we have an answer. More importantly, we have a treatment! Fenimore started on medication, and we are monitoring her condition, tracking her weight and activity level. She will have follow-up bloodwork in a few weeks to confirm that the meds are working, and that the dosage is correct.
Fenimore is a bald little bird right now. The medication has prompted her to start molting, which is a likely a sign that she is beginning to develop further into an adult body. She is forming new feathers. Fenimore has also shed her excess fat, but the rapid weight loss is concerning - so her doctor opted to reduce her dosage. She continues to be active, alert, and maintain a good appetite.
The good news: the improvement so far is dramatic! Since arriving as a youngster in July (Feni likely hatched in June), her development has been frozen in time. She is 9 months old and just now reaching milestones in growth and development appropriate for a 2-month old juvenile. She recently had a bloodwork re-check to calibrate her dosage - which we needed to lower quite a bit. With her new dose, she is gaining weight and her appetite is better. The bad news: Fenimore's spot (tumor) on her liver has gotten a bit bigger - about the size of a large cashew. Once we get her medicine dose stabilized, we will schedule a surgery to remove it. There will be risk, but we think it's best to get it gone and not subject her to constantly monitoring it and hoping a problem doesn't develop.