Pigeon idea may not fly: Iowa investigating company for scheme

SALEM, Ohio — The Iowa attorney general’s office is investigating Canadian-based Pigeon King International as a possible fraudulent scheme.

Background

Pigeon King International Inc., which bills itself as the world’s second-largest pigeon breeder, is based in Waterloo, Ontario.

The company, owned and operated by Arlan Galbraith, invites investors and buyers to invest as much as $50,000 to $100,000 or more to buy hundreds of pigeon breeding pairs.

Growers enter contracts with Galbraith that promise a guaranteed selling price — and market — for the pigeons from Day 1.

Iowa no-no

“We believe that potential investors or buyers should be very cautious and examine the situation very carefully, especially the question of whether there is a realistic and independent market for pigeons now and in the future,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a December statement.

Miller has issued a formal demand to Galbraith to provide various details about his operation and plans for the future, saying he may be “misleading consumers regarding the true viability of establishing several large pigeon processing plants within a time frame that would allow the business opportunity … to have a legitimate independent business purpose other than providing inventory for new growers in furtherance of a ‘Ponzi’ type of investment scheme.”

Phone calls to see whether any complaints were filed with the Ohio attorney general were not returned.

Fear mongers

Galbraith, who was repeatedly not available for comment, did speak his mind in the September issue of The Pigeon Post, his company newsletter, posted on his Web site:

“The people who find fault with the pigeon industry are always those who are not dealing with us. … If they would spend their time minding their own affairs and keeping their noses out of other peoples’ business, they would be much better off and the world in general will be a much better place.”

Not so sure

The accusations of pigeon raising being a scheme don’t fly with Monroe County, Ohio, breeder David Rinkes, whose hatchery business was featured in Farm and Dairy in September 2007.

At that time, Galbraith declined to give out hard numbers that revealed his annual sales or production, or hard figures to show the company’s growth and demand.

Rinkes, who also serves as a business development manager for Pigeon King, said in September the birds he sells are sent to other start-up breeders, or are sold as pets or for meat.

“I heard rumors about it [being a scheme], but I don’t believe it. He’s been real good to us,” Rinkes said of Galbraith, who bought 100 pairs from him in late December.

Rinkes said he did receive notice last spring that purchase prices would drop — Galbraith pays Rinkes $25 for each young bird, but newer breeders’ contracts only allow to be paid up to $18 per bird — but there have been no surprises otherwise.
“I ain’t never had a problem in two years with him,” Rinkes said.

The Iowa attorney general continues investigating the matter.

Related Story:
You’re raising what? Pigeons!.

About the Author

Former staff reporter Andrea Zippay wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2001 to 2009. More Stories by Andrea Zippay

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