It’s a time-honoured tradition at some weddings. After the ceremony and as a pledge of their love, newlyweds release doves from cages and set them free to fly away.
When you hear about a “dove release” or “wedding doves”, it usually means that Homing Pigeons, selectively bred to be all white, small and dove-like, were rented so as to be ceremoniously released. (They don’t call them “wedding pigeons” for some reason…)
Most will survive the flight home, according to PETA.
During “dove releases,” birds are let out of a cage, and event attendees likely assume that they have been “set free” and will live happily ever after. But that four-second visual display claims many of their lives.
The “doves” that people rent for weddings, funerals, and other occasions are often actually pigeons who are bred to be all-white. Breeders make money by renting them out as “wedding doves.” They’re stuffed into cages, dragged to unfamiliar locations in the middle of noisy crowds, and turned loose. As they try to find their way back to the exhibitor, the domesticated birds often get hurt or lost, are killed by predators, or starve to death.
It’s tantamount to dumping your dog or cat on the street.
One cemetery employee called a bird-rescue group for help saving doves who were “released” at a funeral. He said that the animals, who were likely scared, wouldn’t fly, so the funeral guests snatched them out of their cages and tossed them into the air. Still, many of them didn’t fly away. One was attacked by a hawk, another was hit by a car, and the ones who did fly away had little chance of surviving.
In nature, doves mate for life and work together to raise their babies. They’re considered symbols of love and fidelity, as well as peace. Harming and killing them doesn’t honor a deceased loved one, and it’s no way to begin a joyous new life together.