While walking Sweep one evening along Havana Beach, Estepona, we encountered a Seagull that looked in trouble. She was unable to fly as her wing was damaged and her right foot was missing, the bone exposed and muscle about it wasted away. She was unable to fly, walk or swim for that matter, as we’d find out later.
Georgie, as we decided to call her, was in a real state and obviously very hungry. A Spanish family had been giving her bread but they were packing up and preparing to leave meaning that if we didn’t do something, our new avian friend would be in real trouble because the area is home to wild cats and a mass of dogs off leads.
I spent some time plucking up the courage to pick her up and as I attempted to do so a little dog zoomed in from nowhere and chased Georgie into the sea. This is when we found out she couldn’t swim. She floundered on the surface and her head kept going under the water. I had to act quickly or she stood the risk of drowning.
I waded in and closed on her, the fact she was trying to swim away making it easier for me to catch her.
There were a few sharp pecks but little else in the way of a struggle and I soon had Georgie under control. It was quite late in the evening and none of the local vets were open or had an emergency number to call.
The next best thing was to call ADANA, a dog rescue organisation run by volunteers, and I was answered by Mary, a very kindly sounding lady who told us to take Georgie to ALBATROS Clinica Veterinaria in Estepona the next morning.
With everywhere closed it meant Georgie was going to be spending the night with us in the van where she’d be safe and comfortable. First things first though, she needed feeding so Calypso headed off to the nearby OpenCor for some sardines which she devoured in seconds (Georgie, not Calypso).
We put her in the front of the van and covered the windows and put Sweep’s furanda (don’t ask) up to keep her enclosed and she was off to sleep in no time and we followed suit.
The next morning we awoke to a seagull mess in the front; white and green splotches mixed with the scent of sardines, but an other wise calm enough Georgie. We dressed and drove to Albatros Clinicia Veterinaria at Calle Ibiza 5 where they were just opening. We were greeted by the vet, a very nice Dutch lady who took Georgie from us and initiated a difficult conversation about her future.
Although she has taken birds in before and has seven in her care at the moment, she explained that she made a decision a long time back about birds who would not make it in the wild and/or were not endangered. Georgie fell into that category. A bird that can’t fly, walk or swim will not survive in the wild and as seagulls are not used to human contact and are quite aggressive birds it would be difficult to domesticate Georgie – something else we hadn’t the space for.
All of a sudden her future looked very bleak and we were very upset that we’d brought her to certain death.
The vet took her in and promised to wash her and give her one last meal before putting her to sleep by injection. I felt terrible about it.
We left and spent some time wondering what else we could do, when in truth there was nothing.
Later I got to thinking sensibly and found peace inside myself over the situation. Georgie’s last hours alive were spent in a safe place where she was fed, watered and kept warm. From the moment we took her in she would never know harm or danger again and although putting her to sleep seems cruel, it is a far less cruel proposition than letting her slowly starve to death in the wild, or die by the teeth/claws of a cat or dog.
She is at peace now and I feel glad that we made her final hours comfortable.
Read about Reggie Heron (a Cormorant) whose story had a happier ending.
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