This week, I had to deal with a dead pigeon. It was very strange, actually. I looked out the window and thought I was seeing a piece of ice on the road. Of course, I knew it couldn’t be ice, since the weather has been too warm for that lately. When it was still there a couple of hours later, I decided to investigate.
A dead, grey pigeon lay in the street near my house. It wasn’t actually on the property, but it was closer to our house than any of our neighbors’ houses. I have no idea how the bird died. It wasn’t close to a window or anything. It could have been hit by a car or maybe even one of the neighborhood cats got it. But I doubted it was a cat who got the pigeon because it was still laying in the street.
I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The truth is, in the United States, I probably would have just buried it or thrown it away. But I am now in Germany and I wasn’t sure of what was done when these situations arise here. My landlady had also mentioned that laws about disposing dead things were strict. Indeed, it seems like there are a lot of strict rules in Germany, especially when it comes to trash. Maybe it’s not reality, but that’s my perception as an American living here for the second time. I have been yelled at by Germans before and I don’t hanker to repeat the experience. So I asked on Stuttgart Friends what I should do.
An entertaining thread ensued. I was actually surprised, since I was sure someone would think my questions was idiotic. I had done my Googling before I asked the question and all I could find was a thread on The Local for Switzerland about what they do in Switzerland when an animal dies. Apparently there, they get incinerated. I think that’s what they do in Germany, too. Though maybe the process isn’t as straightforward.
Finally, today, someone brought up the point that my question seemed ludicrous. In the United States, the vast majority of people would just bag or wrap up the bird and toss it. He couldn’t believe the question was asked or that some people were saying I needed to call a vet or even the cops. I will admit, I was a little annoyed. But I told the guy that birds (and other animals) can carry diseases. Moreover, having been yelled at by Germans before, I wanted to try to avoid a repeat of the experience if possible. Another poster wrote that when a duck died near his house, he’d called the police and they said he’d done the right thing because of zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted between people and birds or other animals.
So then the guy asked what the procedures were in the United States. I’m sure he figured there were none, or I would not be able to tell him.
Of course, he asked this not knowing that I have a master’s degree in public health and used to work for the South Carolina Bureau of Epidemiology. I know about things like West Nile Virus, Hanta Virus, Toxoplasmosis, Mycobacterium Avium, Bird flu, etcetera… and that’s another reason why it occurred to me to ask about how to dispose of random dead animals and birds.
I posted information from the state of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control… to which he “lol’d” and said, “Fair enough.” But he still wanted to know who in the USA would think of this. So I had to tell him about my education and that I had learned about this stuff in school and work. But really, I was mostly motivated by not wanting to get bitched out by someone after making a mistake.
I also just *knew* that someone was going to think I had asked a “dumb” or odd question. It’s not actually that dumb… but I will agree that most people would just throw the bird away and not give it a second thought. Incidentally, our landlady told us we could just put it in the gray (restmull) bin. Hopefully, it won’t stink up the area before the trash guys come next week.