Bird sanctuary earns non-profit status

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Franklin Paula Ashfield is ecstatic. Her organization Under My Wing Avian Refuge recently achieved non-profit status.
Under My Wing is a refuge for unwanted, surrendered, abused and unloved parrots and exotic birds. “It acts as a permanent refuge,” Ashfield explained, “unlike a regular shelter, our birds can possibly someday be adopted or can simply remain in the refuge.” Foster homes for exotics are never an option because of the stress factor it produces in the birds. “Sudden changes or traumatic happenings can create a screaming, biting and out-of-control bird,” Ashfield said. Out-of-control birds usually end up as abused birds confined to cages 24/7 or banished to basements or horribly, in one case, a closet.
For now, Ashfield and her family share their home with 60 cockatiels, cockatoos, Macaws, doves, finches and parakeets. Since the organization’s inception in 2005, the refuge has housed 82 birds at one time. Cages are spacious, with many stimulating bird toys and activities. Water is clean and monitored throughout the day and with the help and input of the Paterson Bird Shop and a board certified avian veterinarian from Parsippany, Ashfield provides healthy diets and bird health care. In her safe and comfortable home. The birds can interact with the family and form safe, trusting relationships. “Nobody ever stays in their cage,” Ashfield said. “It’s always playtime.” Her devotion to her charges is obvious as she fluffs, hugs, interacts and even dances with the birds. Holding a striking white cockatoo, Ashfield said, “I named him Lance because he loves to dance,” and she demonstrates by encouraging Lance to boogie, as only a cockatoo can.
However, all is not fun and games at Under My Wing. Ashfield, a former vice president of operations at an electrical company in Fairfield, she has definite plans and goals for the refuge. She hopes to begin fundraising, with an eye toward building a special building for avian needs. She plans to start up a fund she will call Pennies for Parrots, to raise $25,000 for emergency vet care and no-cost avian grooming for refuge birds and for people who cannot afford health care for their own pet birds.
She also hopes to gain an organizational staff, and assistant directors for her sanctuary. “Volunteers are always welcome,” she said. “Donations are much appreciated, too.” Even something as simple as donated old newspapers are important. “With upwards of 60 birds in the house, you can never get enough newspapers,”
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