A Louth woman spends £4,000 a year on pampering her pet pigeons, which she takes for walks around the town and one even has a wardrobe of 15 outfits.
Meggy Johnson, 23, who has owned the Potty About Pets store in the town for five years, spoke to The Lincolnite about her obsession and said they are perfect pets and not dirty animals like some people describe them.
When Meggy was just two years old, she kept her first garden snail and refused to let it go, saying “my parents knew then that I’d be a bit bonkers”.
Now the 23-year-old takes her beloved birds for walks in strollers several times a week, with two of them having leads.
From then, her animal obsession grew and as well as four pigeons and a dove, Meggy has a tortoise, lizards, corn snakes, a parakeet, budgie and tropical fish tank at home.
The passion for pigeons really sparked for Meggy when she was out with her late dog Pippa in August 2016. Pippa kept snuffing under a hedge and wouldn’t leave it alone, and at the bottom was a nest with one dead baby pigeon and one that was still alive.
Meggy took the alive pigeon home and kept it warm, as well as contacting wildlife experts for advice. Peanut was successfully looked after and raised, and she still has him today.
Unlike her other pet pigeons, Peanut is a non-releasable wood pigeon. Meggy then took Sky home in September 2019, who she is closest to and is jokingly listed as in a ‘complicated relationship’ with on Facebook.
Sky was brought into her shop by a man swinging a Tesco carrier bag with the pigeon in, who asked for Meggy to look after her. Sky has a big collection of 15 outfits in her wardrobe, while Moose has two.
Clee, who was found in Cleethorpes, joined her collection in April last year and was only 12 weeks old at the time. Snowy, who is a domesticated garden dove, then joined the crew in October 2020 and is really into playing with soft cuddly toys.
Male racing pigeon Moose is the latest addition, arriving in May this year and, although Meggy doesn’t plan to add any further pigeons, her obsession for buying accessories for her pets isn’t stopping.
Sky and Moose live with Meggy in a converted room with easy clean floors in her house. They use a shallow cat litter tray to bathe in within Meggy’s shower, which she cleans regularly.
Clee and Snowy have their own separate enclosures at the shop. Peanut has his own special aviary at the back of the shop.
Meggy told The Lincolnite that she has the “internet to thank” for her obsession spiralling after a website popped up for Bev’s Bird Boutique on her social media several years ago.
She thought it would be just toys and perches, but it included accessories and bird fliapers (diapers for birds). Now her collection of accessories is “like collecting shoes and very addictive”.
The majority of the £4,000 a year goes on accessories, but she also buys food, medicines and anything else needed to keep her pets healthy.
She said: “I love everything about them. I think it is probably their different characters. I think the thing that makes a pigeon a great pet is that they do something different to make me smile every day.
“With me having four, they are all really different. Some are cheeky and love playing more with the soft toys and remind me of little dogs.
“They are so cheeky and smart and want to be in with everything. If you are doing something they want to come and see what you are doing.
“They are so loyal and I have a particularly close bond with Sky. When she was brought into me she was around two weeks old and I hand fed her throughout the day, and when we go outside she will sit on my shoulder on a lead.
“Everybody loves Sky, and it is a bit of a joke (the Facebook relationship with the pigeon), but everyone knows I am a bit bonkers about pigeons. I am known in town as the crazy pigeon lady.
“When you get talking to people coming into the shop, everybody says they didn’t realise pigeons made good pets, and can’t believe what they are seeing.
“People will always say they are really dirty and call them nasty names like flying rats, but they are great as pets. If you look up how many diseases they have compared to humans, I know who I’d rather spend my time with.”