Lost pigeon who flew from England to Alabama to be returned to owner

MEXIA, Ala. — An animal shelter in Alabama said that it intends to return a pigeon to its owner after the bird took a wrong turn and went to the wrong country.

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Bob, the 4-year-old homing pigeon, was on a routine 10-hour journey from the Channel Islands to his home in northeast England three weeks ago, but he never arrived at his destination, The Guardian reported. Instead, he was found approximately 4,000 miles away, in the United States.

“He wouldn’t have flown all that way,” Alan Todd, Bob’s owner, told The Guardian. “He was covered in oil — it could have been an oil tanker.”

The bird followed an elderly gentleman in Alabama home and was then taken to the Monroe County Animal Shelter. Once there, rescuers scanned a microchip that revealed the bird was a long way from home.

Animal rights group PETA sent a letter to the shelter, asking that the bird not be returned to his owner. In the letter, PETA said that Bob’s owner uses him for pigeon racing, “a hidden cruelty that badly exploits and kills birds.”

“They preach birds should stay with their flock, and birds are meant to fly,” Trisha Davis, of the Monroe County Animal Shelter, told AL.com. “But yet, they don’t want Bob to go back to his home, to his flock, and they don’t want him to fly.”

Davis said that she watched Bob and his owner interact over the computer and told AL.com that the pigeon “actually responded to [his owner’s] voice.”

Todd has started an online fundraiser, saying he is trying to raise money to fly to the U.S. to bring Bob home.

“If Bob’s owner is willing to fly all the way to the United States to pick up one single pigeon, then I believe he should have his pet,” Davis told AL.com. “For those of you that uses hunting dogs that lose their way in the woods, would you want your dog back if found? Even if it means you have to travel?”