In case you’ve never been here, you should know that suburban Miami is full of peafowl. These critters, adored for their feathery good looks, have grown in popularity—and population—over the past decade. My neighborhood is full of them.


Most of them wander the yards, occasionally straying into the street when they need to cross it to find more fruitful foraging grounds. Who owns them? Someone did…at some point. But now I guess they just belong to themselves.


Sure, I have a young male who roosts on my roof every once in a while. But I don’t feed him. Nor does anyone else—not deliberately anyway (that I know of). They take care of themselves, eating whatever berries or castaway stuff they can find. It must work for them—they certainly don’t look unhealthy.


Last week I had one of my neighbors bring in one of the young’uns after he/she(?) was attacked by a neighborhood dog (not hers). The dog was in its own yard, in case you’re concerned we have a loose dog problem (for the most part, we don’t). Said dog was just doing his doggy thing—no blame there.


Now, this doesn’t happen often—neither dog attacks nor veterinary peafowl care (not in our hospital, at least). But in Miami, it’s the equivalent of finding a baby squirrel in your yard and wanting to make sure the creature doesn’t continue to suffer in another predator’s maw.


Still, we’re not exactly set up for peacock care. The avian vet’s is by far the best place to go. But some clients don’t want to spend avian specialist prices on stray peafowl. “Do what you can, Doc. Euthanize if you have to. Call me when you figure out what you want to do. And, whatever happens, don’t let me spend over $100.”


Of course I can understand this sentiment. $100 is a haul for a stray bird in most people’s books. But I just don’t know what to do for less than a Franklin. The visit? $48. X-rays? A $45 minimum. Antibiotics? At least $20. Anesthetics and wound cleaning? Another $100—if it’s really simple.


Somebody help me out here! All I can do for under $100 usually includes assessment and antibiotics or euthanasia. I guess that’s better than letting it suffer on someone’s front lawn. But it’s nowhere near ideal. So most vets find a way to keep their clients happy (and assuage their consciences) by sucking up the excess costs.


One of these days we’ll live in neighborhoods where community slush funds will go towards stray animal care. But given most people’s various approaches to the semi-wild creatures in our midst, even I’ll admit this falls into the category of extreme pipe dream. Until then, though, the squirrels, the peafowl, the stray cats and the almost-roadkill everywhere will continue to land in your lap and mine.


So next time you find a baby anything lying in a neighbor’s lawn, knock on doors and pass the cup before seeking professional assistance. Otherwise, you know it’ll be a project shared by only two entities: your family’s…and the vet’s. If you want to keep your vet a happy, willing partner in your numerous humanitarian projects, you’ll help her out as much as you can. Remember—partnership always gets you further than reliance.