October 20th, the Avian community was in a state of shock when a picture and a face book post went viral. The cause? A new Jersey store owner sold a parrot to Michael Vick. Many people claimed they were boycotting the store responsible, Birds Exotic in New Jersey. Owner Todd Marcus stayed out of the way as people talked all the negativity they could at him and his store. Few people, however, backed him up. People who had been to Birds Exotic and knew Marcus personally stood behind him and his choice.
While facebook posts circulated about Vick and Marcus, some called the store to either voice a concern or get at least one side of the story. After speaking to Marcus, it is easy to see why the customers her has are loyal to him. He was very friendly, very in depth, and very understanding.
He did say that Vick has had larger birds in the past, and his fiance has had smaller birds and is well versed in their care. Marcus stated that the caique he sold to Vick would likely have a better life than if it had gone home with the average Joe. “You don’t know what goes on in these people’s homes. You hope they have gone to a good home, but you don’t know,” He said.
“The bird could have gone home with someone who sits around and drinks and throws things at the cage when the bird starts screaming.” But if Vick had larger birds in the past, he is already well aware of the biting and screaming that will ensue with this bird.
I asked Marcus if he had any indicator that these people knew how to care for a bird. He told me not only do they have bird experience, but Birds Exotic puts together a care book that includes household dangers and other things that are bad for birds. Also included with customers is a list of Avian Veterinarians for different areas. Each bird has a six month health guarantee that Marcus stands behind one hundred percent, he says.
Marcus did say he apologizes to the Avian community for causing such an uproar, and if he could do it again, he would not have had it plastered on facebook. He told me Vick was really nice, your everyday guy. Customers were asking him for autographs and he did it. He was not ignorant to anyone, he was respectable. His family was respectable, even the children. “A lot of times we get kids in the store running all over and you have to half babysit them so no one gets hurt. These kids were not like that. They were well behaved and well mannered.”
Vick and his family received just as much information, if not more, than the averagee customer. Marcus said he even got an update from Vick saying the bird is doing well and the kids love it. Marcus does not condone what Vick has done in the past, saying he has no respect for those actions. However he has complete respect for what he is doing now. “He is in a position to turn people around in that arena,” Marcus said.
Marcus is a little disappointed in the closed minded stance people have taken. He thought of every angle before selling a bird to Vick. He said it had nothing to do with his celebrity, it had nothing to do with his money or his status. “I have a lot of disrespect for people who buy hyacinths and toucans as trophy pets,” he said. Marcus also made an increasingly common point: Vick is under the microscope and there is no room for error.
“People from the far left are going to see things differently than people on the far right. That does not make either side wrong, just that they have different points of view,” Marcus said of the closed mindedness people are displaying. “We have been a business for 28 years and this has been one of our best years, despite the economy.”
The economy was another point Marcus brought up. “You have people having to relinquish their birds because they cannot afford to care for them properly. Michael Vick and his family have the means to care for this bird.”