Tammy Vrettos calls it a “vicious cycle.” Every year, domestic ducklings bought as cute Easter gifts are discarded at parks and on the side of the road after the novelty wears off.
And if the ducks dumped around the Valley don’t end up dead, they’ll often wind up in the hands of animal rescue and rehabilitation groups such Webfoot ResQ, which Vrettos founded about 10 years ago.
Vrettos, a Gilbert resident, sees about 500 to 600 domestic ducks a year.
“Probably the majority of these birds have been impulse buys at Easter,” she said. “They make absolutely wonderful pets, but people need to do research and know what they are getting into.”
Ducks can be fully grown in six to eight weeks and live as long as a cat or dog.
Many people who let the ducks go think they’ll be OK because they’re animals or they’re at a pond with other ducks. But “they don’t have the survival instinct of their wild counterpart,” Vrettos said.
Webfoot ResQ places the unwanted waterfowl in foster homes until permanent homes can be found. Sometimes, the ducks require medical treatment, which is paid for through donations to the organization.
Sarah Bons found a goose that had been hit by a car in the road about two years ago. After some searching for somewhere to bring the goose, she found Vrettos.
Bons subsequently learned about the need to help ducks and geese and became a foster caregiver for Webfoot ResQ. She’s provided a foster home to “at least 100” ducks and currently has eight ducks and a goose she’s adopted.
She said ducks are low maintenance and make good pets.
“It’s definitely something different to experience,” she said. Ducks are “nice to watch, kinda like having a fish tank.”
Vrettos said she would like to see a ban on the sale of baby ducks and geese as Easter pets. But for now, she’ll continue to rescue and rehabilitate the unwanted waterfowl.
“I don’t think I’ve had a night’s sleep since I’ve started this.”
• For more information about Webfoot ResQ, or to adopt a duck or become a foster caregiver for ducks, call Tammy Vrettos at (480) 497-6652 or (480) 205-3639.
• Adopted ducks need to be secure from predators, have ample shade and proper food, and have access to water such as in plastic play pool.