Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pigeon disposal cost $100,000

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food spent $100,000 disposing of 175,000 pigeons in Ontario barns after Pigeon King International Inc. went bankrupt in 2008, leaving the pigeon owners with no market for their birds.

And that's not counting the staff who worked long hours dealing with the fallout of the bankruptcy.

Poultry specialist Al Dam spent six weeks on the situation, he testified in court in Kitchener as the fraud trial of Pigeon King owner Arlan Galbraith continues. I recall chatting with Dam soon after the job was finished and he was pooped.

Dam testified that the ministry considered either letting the pigeons fly free or processing them into meat, but decided the best option was to euthanize them.

They were gathered into 14 holding barns for disposal.

The owners gladly gave them up rather than running up more bills to keep them fed.

The investors lost about $20 million on contracts that would have been worth about $320 million had Pigeon King and Galbraith honoured the contracts.

Pigeon King made its money by marketing breeding pairs and promising to buy back offspring at profitable prices. It lured thousands of investors from across Canada and the United States, but then quite suddenly Galbraith declared bankruptcy of the Waterloo-based company.

A few months later a disgruntled investor pushed Galbraith into personal bankruptcy.

In addition to the fraud charge, he faces four charges of violating provisions of the Bankruptcy Act.
The jury trial, where Galbraith is defending himself without a lawyer, is expected to continue until Christmas.

Some investors did quite well with their Pigeon King contracts, such as Ken Wagler of the Woodstock area who testified he pocketed about $200,000 profit  on his contracts. He became a salesman for the company and also testified that no investors were ever pressured to buy pigeons.