AWOL racing pigeon arrives a taxi!

Sarah Poynter and saved pigeon 'Riley' at home in Hemel Hempstead
Sarah Poynter and saved pigeon 'Riley' at home in Hemel Hempstead

An exhausted Geordie racing pigeon discovered lying in a shop doorway has been reunited with his owner after being taken in by an animal lover.

Sarah Poynter, 29, of Lyne Way in Hemel Hempstead, is general manager of a restaurant and was working the evening shift last Tuesday when one of her customers pointed out a poorly-looking pigeon lying just outside the eatery’s door.

Mrs Poynter, who works at Carluccios in Berkhamsted, said: “He looked very shaken up and feeble, so I left some water and bread out for him because it didn’t look like he was able to fly. I couldn’t stop thinking about him my whole shift.”

When the bird was still there hours later, Mrs Poynter carefully picked him up, put him in a cardboard box and took him home to husband Matt, 36, because she was concerned he would be eaten by a fox.

But it was only as the pair installed the stricken bird into his temporary home that they noticed the distinctive rings on his feet and realised he must be a racer.

The next day, Mrs Poynter researched on the internet and discovered the bird – which she had affectionately christened ‘Riley’ – hailed all the way from Newcastle, where he was registered.

After more digging, she tracked down the bird’s owner, who admitted he thought he’d lost him forever after he went missing on Saturday, May 18 on his way to Wales.

Then came the problem of reuniting pigeon and owner, who were 267 miles apart. So animal-lover Mrs Poynter appealed on local Facebook sites, asking if anyone could act as a ‘pigeon taxi’ and get him home safely.

To her delight, a man from Hemel Hempstead came forward and offered to deliver the bird on Monday, as he was travelling to Scotland anyway.

Mrs Poynter said: “It turns out that Riley was in fact a girl! And his owner has named her Sarah in my honour. I grew quite attached to her. I’m so pleased I could play a part in getting her back home.”