A typical Friday morning at Avila Beach turned into a wild pigeon chase for an animal lover on a mission to save a bird wrapped in trash — fortunately for all, it was a success.
Melissa Höxter, a San Luis Obispo resident, was watching her son learn to surf at the Van Curaza Surf School camp when she and her boyfriend, Mark Moreno, noticed an injured pigeon around 9:30 a.m.
Initially, Höxter thought the pigeon had a broken wing, but when it wobbled closer, she noticed the string tied around its feet, binding them together. She immediately felt compelled to help.
“Nothing upsets me more than seeing animals wrapped up in trash left behind by selfish humans,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
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After about 20 minutes of chasing and baiting the pigeon, Höxter was able to catch the bird, and Moreno took video as she untangled the string.
“I wanted to take the video to make people realize that even a piece of string can do a lot of damage,” Höxter said.
Although the bird was difficult to catch, Höxter said it was relatively calm through the entire process, as if it knew she was trying to help.
Höxter said she and surf instructor Megan Cirvencic were able to untangle the intertwined and deeply embedded string from the pigeon’s toes using nail clippers that the instructor had with her. Had they not stepped in, the bird may not have made it due to the lack of circulation, Höxter said.
At the end of it all, the bird walked away trash free and she, its hero.
The takeaway, she said, is that people need to be more aware of the affects of litter and the dangers it poses to animals.
“We have beautiful beaches,” Höxter said.
“We all need to work together to pick up trash even if it isn’t ours,” she added.
If you find an injured animal or for more information about animal rescue, visit the San Luis Obispo County’s nonprofit animal rehabilitation center at pacificwildlifecare.org.
Editor’s note: The story has been updated with the surf instructor’s last name.