A Vancouver Island woman is devastated after her pet pigeon Tweety was taken to an animal rescue centre, which now refuses to give the bird back.

Chemainus resident Sandy Bird, 72, rescued the pigeon from near death last March. He has lived as a member of her family ever since, accompanying Bird everywhere she went, even on car trips.

Last week, Tweety flew out of the car, but returned to the wrong vehicle. The owner of that vehicle, Mike Toole, took the bird to the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre - Wild ARC - in Metchosin.

Bird said wildlife officials tell her Tweety is better off with pigeons, but it feels like she's lost a member of the family.

"He's probably the most lonely, lost little guy in the world. He's more than just a bird," she said.

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Wildlife officials say Tweety the pet pigeon is better off with other pigeons. (CBC)

Her friend Moe Vesey said the pigeon was a constant companion for Bird.

"It's her companion and her dog's companion and it visits all of us. You come in the yard, you come home and it's, 'Hi Tweets. Hi Tweety.'"

Despite this, Senior Wildlife Rehabilitator Christina Carrieres said Bird did not have the proper permits.

"It is illegal to possess any type of wildlife without a permit. They are protected under the Wildlife Act," said Carrieres.

Wildlife officials plan to transfer Tweety to another wildlife centre soon, where he can live out his days in captivity.