A Cloverdale U.S. Army veteran hopes the community will come together and help him raise enough money to replace his emotional support bird, which died in December.
Tony Marcello, 58, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He and his Harlequin macaw, Tia, had been together 29 years, and since the birds have an average life expectancy of 50 to 80 years, he had expected her to outlive him.
Emotional support animals can range from dogs and cats to bearded dragons and birds. Parrots and some other species of birds, in particular, are known to be extremely empathetic and tuned in to the emotional environment around them.
Marcello spent time as a docent at the San Francisco Zoo where he said the macaws stole his heart. By chance he found Tia in a San Rafael bird shop.
“They told me she was incorrigible and reduced the price by $1,000,” he said. “We learned to train each other and it took some time, but I cannot explain the loyalty and love we shared with each other all those years.”
After her death, he tried to replace her by taking advantage of a bird rescue affiliated with the VA Center in Los Angeles, but no macaws were available.
After searching online, he found a reputable breeder in Florida, took what money he had and borrowed $500 from a friend for the deposit. The bird has now hatched, but Marcello still needs to raise $3,820 before it can be shipped to him.
To help, donate at gofundme.com/tonys-new-tia.