Homeless man 'heartbroken' after pet pigeon taken away by police

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A homeless Devon man says he is “heartbroken” after his pet pigeon Cooee was taken away from him by police with no explanation.
Dan Ward, 29, is a fixture of Barnstaple High Street where he has raised Cooee after finding her as a baby chick two years ago. He is known affectionately by locals as “Pigeon Man”. But two weeks ago Cooee was taken away and Dan has still not been told where she is.
According to the police the pigeon was taken away after reports of animal cruelty.
One morning two weeks ago Dan took up his usual spot outside Costa on Barnstaple High Street but not long after he arrived he argued with a charity worker who was working on a stall next to Dan’s spot.
Dan is still hopeful Cooee may be returned to him.
Dan is still hopeful Cooee may be returned to him. 
The charity worker asked if Dan would move on but Dan stood his ground and remained in his usual place.
A little while later Dan had to retrieve something from his makeshift camp nearby and left Cooee on top of his rucksack, but when he returned Cooee was gone.
“She wasn’t on my bag and she wasn’t on the street, I became very worried,” explained Dan.
“After being told by friendly members of the public the charity worker had reported Coee to a PCSO I went down to the police station to ask about her, I was told I wouldn’t be able to have her back until she had been seen by a vet. 
“I couldn’t believe it. I’ve got a good relationship with the local officers and could not understand why they had taken her, I didn’t ask for a vet.
“I just can’t understand it, she is a tame bird.”
Because Dan found her before she had fully fledged, she has never learnt to fly.
Early the next day Dan went back to Barnstaple Police Station and was told that Cooee had been passed to the RSPCA.
Dan has taken losing Cooee hard, he said: “It’s heartbreaking not knowing where or how she is. She helped me through a lot of rough times.
“She kept my spirits up when things seemed dark. We had a really close bond. She was a lovely little thing, we would quite often coo at each other, I miss her so much.  
“I’ve felt very depressed since I lost her. I’ve found myself in one big hole, if she was here I wouldn’t be like this.”
Dan, originally from Barnstaple, has been in and out of the social services system.
He was at one point sent to live in a house share in Holsworthy but due to disagreements with his housemates was evicted from the house.
After that Dan felt he had no choice but to come back to Barnstaple and with nowhere else to go ended up living on the streets.
Shortly after returning to Barnstaple Dan found Cooee.  
“One really frosty and cold morning I was walking up the High Street when I saw a little pink ball in a doorway. I didn’t take much notice as I was walking past, until it started moving,” explained Dan.
“I turned around picked it up and realised it was a baby pigeon. I was worried it was going to get trod on or run over so I picked her up and put her under my wing.
“I looked after her at a friend’s house until she got big enough to come and live with me.”
Dan does not understand why Cooee, who never learnt to fly, would be taken away from him and insists she was well looked after.  
“I gave her constant affection and love, she was always well fed. I fed her meal worms and I would fed her before I fed myself.
“She loved the affection, she could easily have run off but she never showed any sign of wanting to leave.
“She would never leave me. She would often go for a little wander but would always come back to me.”
Living on the streets in Devon can be very hard and Dan has on a number of occasions been the victim of violence, despite that Dan does not want to leave the town. 
“It’s a walk in the park compared to other places,” said Dan.
“Some of the public aren’t very nice, you often hear snide comments as they pass by.
“One lad kicked me in the head. He kept asking me if I was going to put Cooee down, I kept my head down. The next thing I know he kicked me in the head.”
Local artist Elissa Frohlich recently painted a picture of Dan and Cooee and was dismayed to hear that the pair had been separated, she said: “As far as I could see and a lot of other people who regularly see him that pigeon was well cared for. It was his pet and companion.
“It seems to me that people still bully and intimidate those people in society who are not able to fight back. He is in no position to fight his corner and argue with the authorities.  
“I think it is disgusting the way he has been treated. That pigeon was cared for and loved by him, much better than a lot of people keep their pets who have a roof over their heads.
“People keep birds in cages and think nothing of it. He had reared that bird from a chick himself.”
She added: “He was thrilled with his picture because as he said 'It is the only memory I have of her now'.” 
It’s a difficult time to be homeless in Barnstaple, the recent cold and wet weather has made living on the streets “almost unbearable” at times and Devon has been the wettest place in the UK.
A police spokesperson said: “A member of the public approached a local PCSO after reports of an animal being left within an unmanned rucksack. The PCSO found a stack of belongings and found a pigeon in very poor health stuffed into the side pocket of a rucksack and zipped up.”

“The Pigeon had had its flight feathers forcibly removed meaning this wild animal is unable to fly and source food for itself.
“This harmed animal was taken to the local station before being handed over to a local animal hospital for treatment. We ask that anyone who suspects animal cruelty in any form, contact the police on 101 or the RSPCA.”

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