The pigeon racing tag attached to its leg originally dates back to the American Racing Pigeon Union, with the bird registered to someone in Montgomery, Alabama.
The pigeon was initially thought to be in a race in Alabama on October 29, but it never made it to the finish line, instead flying thousands of miles into the officer’s backyard.
However, American Racing Pigeon Union spokesman Deone Roberts told 9News that after the investigation, the “band is fake.”
“The bird’s home is somewhere in Australia, not in the United States,” he said.
“This has been confirmed with the race handler who had the AU 2020 ARPU 5622 pigeon, which is in fact a blue-barred homing pigeon, not the bird you see in the photographs.”
The reveal could be a lifesaver for the pigeon, because if Joe is indeed Australian, there should be no reason to belittle him.
Australian quarantine authorities planned to euthanize the bird, which remains on the officer’s property, amid fears that it could carry disease.
Quarantine officials contacted Chelli-Bird yesterday and asked him to catch the bird for them to collect.
“Maybe we should have called him Donald and we could have appealed to the president for a pardon or diplomatic immunity,” Chelli-Bird previously told Nine.com.au.
“The last 12 months have been hell for most of the people, now we finally have good news and they want to end it.”
Victorian politicians are among those calling for the life of the dove to be saved.
“I urge Commonwealth quarantine officials to show Joe some compassion,” Health Minister Martin Foley said today.
Animal Justice Party deputy Andy Meddick urged the federal government to offer a “pigeon pardon for Joe.”
“My message to the federal government is this: get Joe off death row,” he said.
“Surely the federal government has bigger problems to deal with right now than death sentences for pigeons.
“I know that I speak on behalf of many Australians who want justice for Joe.”
Joe, who is considered a biosecurity risk if he’s from the United States, should be able to quarantine and live in Australia, Meddick said.
“I understand their reasoning, but I also can’t understand why they can’t quarantine the bird,” Chelli-Bird said.
“There should be other ways for the department to make an exception.”
There is hope that the department’s stance will change following news that the pigeon is Australian.
Nine.com.au has contacted the Department of Agriculture for an updated response.