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Pigeons have long been out of business as couriers of important information; they have became better known for dirtying windowsills. Now, pigeons have sent their own messenger to Capitol Hill. Thrust into hot-button issues like avian flu, the American Pigeon Racing Union is trying to make friends in Congress. The 10,000-member association hired Gregory Smith of The Smith Law Firm to lobby on the Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005 and animal-shipping restrictions. “They are this obscure group of people of modest means who have been racing and raising pigeons, with some family traditions going several generations,” Smith says. He registered to lobby just a month after the Oklahoma-based group made its first trip to Capitol Hill to network with members including Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Ernest Istook Jr. (R-Okla.). Grassley later introduced legislation in the Senate that would require air carriers that ship animals to also ship birds. “It seems to me [airlines] are cherry-picking the mail,” says Smith. The group’s main opposition is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which put out an action alert on May 22 against the legislation, calling it a “dangerous piece of legislation that would force countless birds into these death traps.”
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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