Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chicago Pet Show - Libertyvile

So, we were at the Chicago Pet Show, Libertyville, this past weekend.  We had a great time, met some new people we hadn't before.  We presented on chinchillas and how you'd know if they are a good pet for you -- twice in fact -- and maybe you were one of the ones there, listening to the presentation and asking questions.  For both presentations we had awesome volunteers from Chicago Pet Show who helped us.  We had two girls each time, sorry to say I did not catch names, but they held one of the chins we brought (a standard grey male, Pippin) and walked around the bleachers in the seminar area so people could pet him and see him up close, while I talked about chins and their care.  The girls were all super helpful and nice, especially considering it's hard to hold a chin and talk, and (knowing me) not trip over the microphone cord.  On that note, I don't think they usually have cords at these events, pretty sure we had wireless mic's for some of them, as I don't remember having to worry about tripping over the cord in the past.

Anyway.  The first day of the expo was slow, if you were there, you probably talked with me if you passed by booth, as it was unusually slow, and most vendors were talking with quite a few people who walked by. The second day picked up, and thankfully was the better day.  We had one of our adopters, Carrie, stop by the show, and she handled the rescue booth for awhile, so I could take a break.  I got to walk around the expo, get my own freebies / goodies, and talk to some of the other vendors, so it was a nice break.  Carrie showed up right before my presentation on chin care on Sunday, and stayed about 2.5 hours.  She sold a ton of our rescue items and was helpful to people with questions, so yay, let's give it up for Carrie!

The expo was actually surprisingly busy even later into the day.  Sometimes at these expos, once it hits 2 pm on a Sunday, we sort of sit around and twiddle our thumbs for the next few hours, but this one was more hoppin til the end, and we sold some of our critter items late into the day.

Packed up, went home... back to cleaning cages and haying (Sunday night) and even had a chin surrender that night (one of our own chins coming back, since I know some of you are probably on our waiting list, wondering why you didn't get called).  Busy busy, but all in all, a fun weekend.  If you were there, you know it was an awesome expo.  If not, you should totally come check it out next year!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Listen, Please

One other thing I don't get...

People will call, and will say, "is this the humane society?" (or replace that with animal control, animal rescue, etc etc).  My response is, "this is NWI Chinchilla Rescue."

To which they respond... as if they totally did not hear what I said... with something completely unrelated, which I cannot help them with (and they would have likely known this, had they listened to my answer).

The lady today was looking to purchase a german shepherd.  People all the time are looking to surrender their dogs or cats.  People all the time are interested in adopting cats.  Others want to know if we picked up their stray dog today.

I've found it simpler, honestly, for most of these people... to just say, "no."  Do we have cats for adoption?  Sorry, no.  I used to go into more detail and explain, no, we don't take in cats or dogs, we only rescue small animals... but really, if they didn't listen to me the first time, when I said what rescue they had called... they don't care.

I guess I just think it would be great if people would listen to what is said.  The might think, oh a chinchilla rescue.  Small animal.  They probably don't do dogs or cats.  Now, I know a variety of rescues take in a variety of critters, like at the humane society, you might just see dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, etc.  But that's because it's... wait for it... a humane society.  If you notice, the smaller rescues specialize.  Border collie rescue -- only takes in border collies or border collie mixes.  Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue -- only takes in cavalier king charles spanials or those mixes.  Rat rescue -- takes in rats, and maybe other smalls like mice, hamsters, etc (think on the smaller end of small animals).  Chinchilla rescue -- most take in only chinchillas.  We also take in guinea pigs, rabbits, and smaller small animals.  But you get the point.  So... you'd think, if they hear "chinchilla rescue" they wouldn't follow it up with... "so, can I bring in my pitbull to you guys??"  Sometimes I just have to laugh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Applying to Adopt... at like 10 Places

So, I hate to come back from not posting for awhile with a complaint, but this one has happened multiple times recently and I guess I just don't get it.

Someone will put in an adoption form for an animal.  In all these cases, I've gotten back to them within a day or two (which I think is reasonable).  When I do get back to them, they respond with, "oh, we adopted an animal elsewhere."

Now, I say anything else, yay for that animal that found a home... but... from a rescue perspective... it's a time waster.  I'm perfectly fine with someone who, up-front, says that they're unsure they want a chinchilla / rabbit / guinea pig / whatever, because obviously, any potential adopter, at any time, can vanish and go elsewhere.  I realize that.  But for 95% of these times I'm thinking of, the person has gone to the effort to submit an adoption form, as well as an email that has told me about the adoption form with even more info about them and their family (which I can't help but think is copied and pasted to the various rescues / adoption agencies).... so they seem like a serious potential adopter.... well, until they say they've adopted elsewhere.

Reasons why this is frustrating:

1) Waste of time -- for a lot of people.  If there's me, and another adoption agency that received completed adoption forms... are there more?  How many adoption forms did they fill out / how many agencies did they contact, expressing interest in adopting?  For each one of those, someone had to take time out of their day to read the form, make notes for themselves on things that might be improved or that they have further questions on, write those in an email to the potential adopter... only to find, op! sorry, they adopted elsewhere.  If they filled out 5 adoption forms at different agencies and adopt only one, that wastes at least 4 people's time.  For the larger adoption agencies that are run by boards of directors, where the board has to agree on the adoption, they waste even more people's time.

2) Lack of commitment to a specific animal -- ok, I realize this isn't a dog where we can have a super specific description including how it will get along with everyone and all that.  But... if someone is applying for that many animals, do they even know what they want?  I've literally gotten emails, one after another, literally saying, "oh I'm interested in this one."  Next email, "oh this one too, tell me more about this one!"  Next email, "oh now that I looked at your entire website, I like these 6 too!"  To start with, this makes me think that they didn't even read the descriptions, but if they did... usually the ones they've picked are different enough in personality, that they seem to not have any idea what they want.  Of course, part of the job of a rescue is to help with that, but at the same time... people have to have some idea, for you to start from.  I'll ask, ok, would they prefer a baby or an adult?  Doesn't matter.  Ok, color?  Doesn't matter.  Gender?  Doesn't matter.  Well... I have 40 to pick from, so unless we want to start on one end and take them all out... it kinda does.  And honestly, while some people might say, "oh, let's do that!" most breeders / rescues / anyone will tell you, that is the most frustrating people ever.  I'm happy to pull out quite a few chins for someone, especially if they can tell me, hey, they're interested in a male chin under 1 year.  We can even pull out every male under 1 year.  But no joke, some people have no idea what they want and want to pull out every last chin, typically these people who do this sort of thing, and that gets old really quick.

3) You get your hopes up -- I swear on my life, this never happens on an adoption for a super adoptable animal.  You know which ones it happens on?  The seniors, the hard-to-adopt pairs, the ones with health issues.  So, basically, the ones where they have little-to-no chance of being adopted in the first place (you might be surprised, or not, to learn that seniors and animals with health issues have a better chance of dying in rescue / foster than they do of being adopted).  Until you get that email -- HOPE!  And then, after you've responded quickly and gotten back to them and tried to be uber friendly and nice, you get the email back that they've adopted another one.  Well... sorry, buddy, guess you'll be here another few months...  I feel like it's inconsiderate, to apply for multiple animals and see what pans out.  Yes, I have also heard the stories of rescues that never respond to adoption inquiries, but I feel like... give them a few days before you immediately assume that's the case!  Not all of us are just sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, playing with animals all day.  For me, I'm always working to catch up on paperwork, answer the emails, work at my other job, work on orders...and so on.  I do my absolute best to answer emails in a timely manner, but chances are, that is not 5 minutes after you send it (and this is true of just about all rescues).  We appreciate your patience as we get to you.

That is all.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Clear the Shelters

This would have been from last weekend, I think, but some of the local humane organizations had that "clear the shelters" program, and so we got a few calls, asking if we were participating.  I think this is important to talk about, so I finally got around to writing this.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure the people who called, even knew that they hadn't gotten a dog rescue.  A few asked where they'd reached, and I'd told them, and they then, asked if we were participating in the clear the shelters event, so maybe they did know... but some just called and asked.  And with the number of calls that I get for people asking me to take in their dog or cat, I'll assume a good portion of them had no idea they'd reached a chinchilla rescue.  Anyway.

In case you're not familiar with what this is, let me explain.  Some humane organizations -- notably humane societies, animal welfare groups, and animal control -- will participate in an event.  I believe it is once a year (maybe a couple times? don't quote me on this).  During this "clear the shelters" event, the adoption fees for the animals are waived.  The adopters still have to fill out the adoption form, and if they are approved, they get to adopt the pet for free.  The idea is to clear the animals out of the shelters, hence the name.

I remember this from when I lived in Indy and used to take Kailey to obedience classes at the Humane Society.  People would be posting on their facebook page, on the images of their available animals (after the event, but before they'd gotten a chance to change the available animals), how oh, this person REALLY wanted that dog, but darn, this other person got their first and beat them to it, and then a third person would chime in, about how they also really wanted the dog, but found out it'd already had an application put in on it, and someone else wanting to know if that one didn't work out.

Here's the thing.  No one wanted that dog two days prior.  But since it was, all of a sudden, FREE, everyone was beating down the door for it.  And this was the case with many of the animals.  Often, they really would "clear the shelter" and have mostly open kennels to bring in more dogs...

...like the exact same ones they adopted out, in a few weeks, when people who, in their impulsive decision to adopt since the fee was FREE, didn't really think this through.

We did not, and will not, participate in events such as this. You may notice, if you are trying to find places that are participating.... places such as breed-specific rescues, private rescues, and the like, just about never participate.

Here's why.  The places that do participate sometimes are often kill shelters, where if the dogs are not adopted out, they may be put down, due to lack of space or behavior issues.  So, it is in those shelters' best interests to get them out, even if they end up coming back, so they can euthanize less.  For them, a home is a good thing.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm NOT saying that there aren't some good adopters in this sort of event.  I'm sure some people adopt a dog for free, and have and spoil the dog until it dies peacefully in it's sleep of old age at 16 years old.  I'm sure.  However, what I'm also sure is, there's people who see "FREE ADOPTIONS!!!" and because the adoption process at these places is not always that difficult** go and adopt an animal, without putting much thought in.

**I looked up the adoption questionnaire at one of the local humane societies.  Name, age, address, how best to reach them.  It asks about kids ages, and what role the pet will play in the household (cuddler, mouser, guard dog, companion, etc).  The form asks what pets they have at home.  The form asks if they have any information they'd like to share.  Finally, there is also a section that allows the person to check off if they have any specific topics they'd like to discuss with an adoption counselor at adoption time, such as training, finding a groomer, etc.  The adoption process involves them filling out the form, and it being gone over with an adoption counselor, and if all goes well, they can adopt.

Now, again, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying my adoption form is difficult, in comparison or anything like this, but just that this one is relatively simple, and the average person could write their name, address, how to be reached.  They could write, no one else in the household.  No other pets.  They could indicate that they've had a dog before, so they don't have anything they'd like to discuss... and in theory, it could be filled out in about 2 minutes.  The reason I mention this, is because it's so quick to do, it makes me wonder how much thought is put in to all of this.

With my small animal adoption forms, and the care packets they read along with them (and the god-awful in depth adoption forms that some breed rescues have... but that's a topic for a different day), I've had people start on them, and tell me, you know what, now that they really had to think about caging and the answers to my questions and whatnot... they're not sure they're ready to adopt.  Sure, that loses an adoption (if you want to look at it that way), but I'd prefer to look at it as -- an informed person decided that that specific pet is not right for them, right this moment.  I'm not sure if that happens when there's a form that could be filled out in 2 minutes.

My worry, which I imagine is echo'd by the breed-specific rescues and other rescues that do not participate, is that people will adopt, without much forethought, because the pet is FREE.  In going back to the humane society I was mentioning... the adoption fees for dogs are $75 for large dogs (over 30 lbs.), $150 for small dogs (under 30 lbs.), and $200 for puppies.  You can debate if that's reasonable or not, to yourself, but the point is, it's not a fortune.

Think about dog food for a second.  A large bag of food (provided you're not buying the absolute junk) is at least $30-50 for 30+ pounds.  With a large dog, you'll go through that pretty regularly, so if you can't afford the $75 adoption fee for the large dog... how are you going to afford these $30+ bags of food, at least every other month?

Think about the veterinarian visits for a second.  If you can't afford the $75 adoption fee, how are you going to afford taking the dog to the vet?  I just took in the new dog, and for her checkup, heartworm test, fecal, shots, rabies, and 3 months of flea and tick, it was around $270.  That's fine, I'm not complaining.  But I bring that up, because all of that IS ALREADY DONE, plus spaying / neutering, for these dogs (which is ~$200ish at your average vet), and the adoption fee is $75.  If you purchased a puppy elsewhere, you'd have that, on top of the price of the puppy.  And maybe you want a puppy, of a specific breed, so that's cool with you.  But the thing is, you know the dog you are adopting will be up to date on its shots, and, barring it getting sick, will not need a vet visit for another year (for their yearly checkup).  However... at that yearly checkup... you will, then, be paying for these shots and such.  Should the dog get sick, the vet here is around $49 to walk in the door.  This money has to come from somewhere, and if $75 is too much, I wonder if people are going to be able to afford the vet costs.

Think about the older animals.  Seniors are half price adoption fee.  So, a large senior dog would only be ~$38 to adopt.  That's nothing!  And that's a 7+ year old dog, so they may have plenty of life in them left!  Now, I don't expect everyone to necessarily bend over backwards the way I do for Kailey.  If you haven't been following along, Kailey is my 9.5 year old sheltie soul-mate-dog.  She has arthritis in at least one wrist (the other has never been x-rayed, but is suspected) and arthritis in both ankles.  Kailey is on a prescription arthritis medication and a prescription nerve medication.  She gets two glucosamine / chondroitin joint supplements.  She also gets CBD (cannabinoid) medication, which runs a pretty penny... but works.  The cost for all of this is upwards of $300/ month, and she needs bloodwork ($150) twice a year (x2) to stay on these meds.  Plus the costs of shots yearly, works out to...$4,150+ per year (~$250 shots / checkup, $300 bloodwork, $300 meds / supplements x 12)... and that's IF I don't take her in for anything else, and IF you aren't counting flea / tick and heartworm prevention meds!  Now, I'm not saying everyone necessarily needs to put this much money into their dog.  However... without these meds, she is an unhappy, limping dog, that would rather be a throw-rug on the floor.  With these meds, she plays with my younger dogs and actually rarely limps!  Will someone, who thinks $38 is too much to adopt a senior dog, and instead adopts it for free, even consider putting their dog on joint supplements when the dog starts to get achy?  Maybe, maybe not.

Think about additional accessories.  Dogs need a collar, leash.  Crate.  Chew toys, if you would prefer the dog didn't munch on your cat or couch.  The medium crates I use for my shelties aren't anything special, but I'm pretty sure they were around $150, and that wouldn't even fit a large dog.  The collar and leash could be purchased at the dollar store (though, low quality, I'd worry about them fraying / snapping), as could dog bowls... but the thing is, these are extra expenses that will be incurred, with bringing a new furry family member home.

I guess the overall question that looms in my mind is this -- if the person cannot afford (or doesn't want to pay for) the adoption fee for the animal, are they financially able to care for the animal?  Are they really that invested in the animal?  I see people posting on pet groups on facebook all the time -- oh they got it for free, so no big deal if it doesn't work out.  Maybe if they paid $75, and actually had put money and thought into it, they would have a different perspective.  Maybe not, but I don't think that the animal being free, does anything to help the situation.

I realize, above, that I am talking about dogs, but this all applies to any animal.  With chinchillas, ok, the chin is free -- can the person afford the cage?  The chew toys?  The vet visits if the chin gets sick?   Maybe more importantly, the vet visits if the person uses improper caging and the chinchilla gets impacted from plastic?  Pet food for small animals is even more ridiculously priced than dog food (at the pet store), so that will take a chunk of the owner's cash, regardless of what the small animal cost, as will chew toys and accessories.  Will the people research the pet and buy the appropriate cage, with the animal being free?  Or will the people who, before, could never afford a chinchilla, get one for free, and then go out and get a 10g aquarium on craigslist for a few bucks, and keep it in less-than-appropriate caging, because that's what they can afford?  This is what I worry about.  And that's why we will not participate in events like this.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Specific Ages

I've had this happen from time to time, so I wanted to mention it...

Had someone email the other day asking for a female chin, could I send pics?  Well, out of 30ish chins available... at least half are female... so I asked, what are they looking for?  I asked if they could be more specific as far as age or color.  I get an email back, they're looking for a "standout color" chinchilla, not a grey because that's what they have, and chin should be 18 months.

The 18 months is what this post is about.  I don't know if people are trying to match the age of the chinchilla they have at home, and want the two to be the same age for some reason, but age is a hard thing to match up.  You want a beige?  Oh, sorry, I don't have, but I have a lighter tan!  Some things you can use similar, and still make people happy, but when people want a specific age, they often want that exact age.

I've heard people tell me, they want two chins the same age because they'll grow old together and, apparently, die around the same time, so one won't have to live without the other.  Now, not to burst anyone's bubble... but even if you have two siblings, where genetics really doesn't come into play that much as it might with two random chinchillas.... one can die at 3 years old and the other can make it to 20 years and still be going strong.  Just because they're the same age does not necessarily mean they will both live to be ripe old chins together and die within a week of each other.  That'd be nice, but it doesn't tend to happen.

Anyway, so I looked through the chins here... I have a pair of grey females who are roughly around that age, but they didn't want grey (or a pair), and the only other one I had that matched the age (forget color for a second here) was a beige female.  For most people, beige is hardly a "standout color," as they'd worded it, but I sent them an email back, mentioning that that one, single chin, was the only non-grey chin that I have, that is right about 18 months old.

I also suggested, if they're at all willing to expand their age range, I have alllllll sorts of colors in the younger ages, and for older adults, if they went up to 3-4 years of age (which I realize is doubling the age, but for animals that live to 20 years, it's a drop in the bucket), I have two ebonies... a medium / dark and an extra dark, available, as well as a mosaic / white ebony, and any of those would be more of the "standout" color they are looking for.

This all said, if they're really set on the 18 months, then these are not what they are looking for.  And that's fine.  Though it's useful to realize that while I may have everything under the sun, out of probably 30-40 chins that could be available (including ones not ready), there's only three that age.  If they asked for a 2 year old, or 6 year old, or a 1 year old, I have none.  While of course, I'm happy for people to inform me of what they specifically want, it's useful to keep in mind that with only (only! haha) 30-40 chins to pick from, and many of the adults being rescues that people have surrendered after getting tired of them (the average age of a rescue chin is 3-5 years old... most people don't get tired of the chin and decide to give it up, for free, at the age of 6 months), there may not be chins of each and every age, oh and at that specific age, each and every color available.  Just so everyone's aware.  So, we shall see what happens with this person.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

People Delaying to Get Back to You

For once, I'm not complaining about my own people!  I wanted to share an experience I had, and use it sort of as an example.

Someone had an item I wanted for sale on hoobly.  Hoobly has their own messenger system, sort of like how facebook does.  Anyway, so I message them, because they only have one picture of the item, and I want to see more pics.  So I ask, do they have more pictures.

Week goes by.  Finally get a message, the message basically says, sure, and if I provide them with an email or cell phone number, she will send me pics.  (in hoobly messenger, you can't attach anything)  So I reply, that day, with my email address, so she can send pics.

A week later, I get a reply... "you may text message me at [number]"

Um... no.  I've already bought this item elsewhere, cheaper in fact.  But that's beside the point.  This is now two weeks after I asked for pics!

The reason I wanted to bring this up is because this is what I try to avoid doing, here at NWI Chins.  If you email me and ask me something, it may take a day or two for me to get back to you.  If you write a book in your first email, maybe a little bit longer, since I may need to type out a book back, in response to your questions.

But I sure wouldn't wait a week to respond, then have someone provide a way for me to send pics... and then wait another week to basically tell them... oh, let's use the other way.  What do you bet, if I texted them, they wouldn't text the pics right away?  Maybe they would, I don't know... but I don't get the feeling they're dying to sell the item, or else they'd be responding right away.  I want my chins adopted, I want my products sold... so I try to respond as quick as is reasonable.  And... just like me, having bought my item elsewhere... many other people will too.  If you want to see pics of a chin today, or tomorrow, or whatever, and I don't even respond with, "hey, I'm working on it, will get pics soon!", it doesn't surprise me in the slightest when people move on.  I get it.  But what I don't get is the people who "want" to sell their items, and then delay delay delay when people ask about them... it's frustrating.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Does The Chin Come With...

Not sure if this is the same person or not (cause some have been emails, some texts, some through hoobly messages), but times lately it has been asked, "does the chin come with a cage and a dust bath?"  Why those two specific items, I don't know.  Obviously, both are needed... but there's other items needed as well.

The most recent was... would you provide a cage and dust for a dust bath.  So, slightly different, but same concept.

I just want to quickly re-iterate that most of the chinchillas that we get in, at the rescue, do not come with any supplies.  People bring the critters in, in a box, sign the required paperwork, and leave.  We do not often get cages in with chinchillas.  Even when we do -- the last few have been guinea pig type cages, which would not be appropriate for chinchillas.

Without the cages coming in with them, we do not have cages to send out with them.

Also, keep in mind -- when you adopt a dog, it might come with a collar and a leash.  Might.  Many places specify that you need to bring these with you, when you come to pick up your new adopted pet.  But... the dog will most likely NOT come with a crate, or with food / water bowls.  Some dog food, sure.  A toy, maybe.  Moreso if you're buying a puppy from a breeder, you might get the collar / food / blanket / etc.  However, I used to volunteer at a humane society, and they would wash the dog before you came to adopt -- but you had to supply everything.  So... this is across the board, that when you adopt an animal, you typically adopt just that animal, not including its things.

For us, most of our animals are in our double ferret nation rescue cages.  We are unable to give those away, as they cost a fortune, and we need them to be able to take in, and rehome, future critters.  Therefore, unfortunately, no, we will not be providing a cage and a dust bath.