A New Experience- Shipping Doves
by Mary Ellen Robinson
©American Dove Association (ADA), 2004

Whenever I start to think about doing something new, I always spend so much time thinking about the "what if’s" (like-WHAT if things go wrong?) that it tends to hold me back from doing it in the first place. In hindsight, I now see how smooth and easy it was to ship my birds, and I wanted to share my experience with all of you who are contemplating shipping too. Of course, this is my own personal experience, and you may have a different one when you do decide to ship. However, everything went pretty much the way I was told it would, and the outcome was very satisfactory!  In my case, it was necessary to think of shipping my birds, as there are very few dove enthusiasts around my neck of the woods to buy my extra birds. This is something I am hoping to change, by getting my birds out there and showing people how wonderful doves really are. But in the meantime, shipping was becoming a necessity. The one thing that really pushed me to ship, was the fact that my website somehow got added to a search engine, and whenever people typed in Doves or Cavies in the search box and hit go, a link to my website popped up! This is GREAT news for business, except most interested people were many states away from me. So, I decided to take a deep breath, and start studying. First, I wrote to my friend John Fowler, and asked him for advice on where to get shipping boxes. I had had birds shipped here from him, and he had walked me thru the process of waiting for the birds to be delivered and explained that the process was pretty much the same in reverse. The company he sent me to for shipping boxes was Horizon, and the boxes can be found on line at: http://www.hm-e.net/ John suggested I order the PetPort boxes and then buy the additional micro fiber filter paper to paste inside the box myself. The cost of these boxes is very affordable. I chose, however, to order a few of the more expensive boxes, called NEST boxes, simply because I wanted to be totally SURE I did this the first time the right way. These boxes cost almost twice as much, but already have the micro filters attached, and have a special "peek hole" for the postal inspectors to look in and see what is inside. After 9/11, and living in New York, I decided better safe than sorry! Next time, however, I am going to try the PetPort boxes. After I ordered these boxes, I wrote to Jeff Downing, who kindly sent me TONS of excellent information on what to do, step by step, to make sure that my birds would get safely from point A to point B. So, after reading the notes over and over again, I called my local post office. Surprisingly, they were at a loss as to what to tell me to do! I live in a small city, and they NEVER ship live animals out of their facility. As a matter of fact, my birds sent here from John Fowler, and then later from Dr Miller, were the first ever anyone had seen arrive down at the local P.O.! They suggested I call the bigger Main Facility, in downtown Albany, who also suggested I call the Express desk at my local Airport to talk to them directly. I was getting shuffled around and started to feel like no one wanted to deal with me and my birds. But I did not let this deter me.  I called the Airport (Albany International Airport) and they connected me to the desk of the Express Shipping Center. There I met another very patient person named Bill, who helped me immensely. He told me that both the local and Main offices of my local post offices SHOULD have known more about shipping and was going to call them personally and "fill them in on the basics of shipping poultry" for future inquiries. (gulp) He then told me that he did see many birds shipped out from his desk, and could help me each and every time I needed him. First, I was to figure out when I wanted to ship my birds, and call his desk the day before I planned to ship them out. I also needed the town, state and zip code of the recipient. As soon as I had my first customer set, I called Bill at the Express desk. He told me that I could bring the birds directly to the Express desk at the airport, (only a 15-20 minute drive away from my home) but as the flight out for the birds destination was leaving at 4:15am the next morning, he suggested I wait as late as I could before bringing them up there. I had printed out a sample shipping label at home with all the info I needed to bring with me. For information on what info is needed, go to:  http://www.usps.com/shipping/expressmail.htm  and see what a real shipping label looks like. It will tell you what information is required to ship your birds correctly. I then lined the bottom of my shipping box with newspaper, which seemed like it would be more absorbent than the cardboard floor, packed the birds up, and left for the big adventure! (note: As suggested to me, I did not include food or water for the birds. When the box is closed, it is quite dark inside, and the birds seem to settle down as they would for a long night’s rest) When we got to the Express desk, it was so easy and quick I couldn’t believe it. The woman there weighed my box, and told me how much it would cost to ship two birds plus the box by weight, and I paid her there. (You can actually open an account on line at the USPS web address above, and pay for the shipping of your birds ahead of time if you care to do so) Then I filled out the recipients address, the senders address, our phone numbers, and the birds were off on their way! It was SO easy, that I couldn’t believe all of the energy I wasted worrying about the task at hand! On the receipt they give you at the counter, is a tracking number. You can actually go the USPS website, and type in the tracking number, and see where your birds are in transit at any given moment. Two days later, I got an email from the buyer, telling me her birds had arrived first thing that morning at her local post office, and they were just fine! Now that I have successfully shipped my birds, there is no stopping me! I am feeling better about letting them breed a bit more, knowing that the whole country is out there as a possible customer for my birds! Looking back at all the worrying I did, I thought it would be a good thing if I could write about my experiences and try to help anyone new at shipping to go ahead and do it yourselves. For me, the most important aspect of successful shipping is to ask questions, and to build a good relationship with the people you will be dealing with at the shipping end of the business. Many thanks go to John Fowler, Jeff Downing, and all the good people on the dove and pigeon list. They are an incredible source of advice, wisdom and knowledge. Go ahead! Try it! If I can do it, anybody can! ....... mare

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