Monday, January 21, 2013

craigslist & other things

So, I should probably stop posting ads on craiglist.  Cause those are the ones that cause me the most stress, and that's not what I need right now.

Got an email earlier telling me that I might want to treat Apollo for mites because biting is an indication of mites.  Ok, well, he doesn't have mites, and I know because I preventatively treat the rats and pigs.  And he just bites because... he bites.  I mean, sometimes it's not always explainable through some bodily illness.  They go on to say that they hope I'm not breeding rescue guinea pigs, as there are hundreds on Petfinder.  Funny, mine are some of those hundreds.

Anyway, so I respond and tell her that I know he doesn't have mites because I preventatively treat the critters and I say that I am not breeding rescue animals.  So of course, then I think I can't just leave well enough alone, because I get an email back saying that they're glad that I don't breed but that offering the information that Apollo is a skinny carrier might attract people who breed.  Really?  So might the fact that he comes with a pedigree AND his ads specifically state that he could be used for breeding.

So, I nicely explain to her, he is not a rescue, he is a pig that was bred at a friend's caviary, and as he is not a rescue, he is not being "adopted out," per se.  He is not on PetFinder, also, because he is not a rescue. 

Also, she notes that I should consider spaying and neutering all the animals before they leave the rescue.  Really, and who's going to pay for this?  I nicely explain that my vet, and the other local ones, charge at least $150 to spay/neuter small animals, and at that rate, I would have to adopt out every small animal for at least $150, and I would still be operating at a loss because it costs money to house, feed, medicate, and clean them.  I told her, if I could find one of those vets who'd work with me and charge me $20 to neuter a small animal (and I do know of a rescue that has a vet that has that agreement with them to charge $20 to neuter a small dog), then sure, I'd spay and neuter them all.  But an extra $150 per animal would put the rescue out of business so fast it wouldn't even be funny.

So then, she asks if I'm licensed by the dept. of agriculture, as they "prohibit the breeding of animals that are adopted out from licensed rescues."  Really?  So, let me ask you something.  You adopt out an animal from somewhere licensed by the DOA, and you get them to believe you that you're not gonna breed it, and you take it home and breed it.  Let's even say they find out that you're breeding an animal adopted from that licensed rescue.  What are they going to do?  Oh yeah, probably nothing.  Because animals have no rights under the law, and animals are still considered property, and last time I checked, people can pretty much do what they want with their property.  Heck, puppy mills are USDA licensed half the time, you think they're gonna care you're breeding a rescue critter?  I highly doubt it.  Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE if they would crack down on things like this.  But they don't.  And frankly, they probably can't, because if there isn't enough money and resources to shut down the big dog puppy mills, I highly doubt there's money to worry about small animal breeding.

Moving on, she tells me that reputable rescues don't breed.  Excuse me, remind me where I said I breed rescue animals?  Oh yeah, I didn't.

And somewhere in there, I told her, just because Apollo is at my house, does not make him a "rescue animal."  I have a dog, she is not a rescue animal.  I have my chins, they are not rescue animals.  They are in the same house as rescue animals, but that does not make them rescue animals.  No more than having my parents live here makes them co-owners of the rescue.  Nope.

So, now I'm waiting for my reply email which is probably going to read "I'm going to report you to blah blah blah and you're doing everything wrong and blah blah blah."  That should be a fun one.

Moving onto the next email.  So, we all know I'm having my 13% off sale for 2013.  Let me start by saying the email starts with "answerusthis" (answer us this) which makes me think they go around asking people annoying pointless questions.  But I digress.

Here's the email I get:
2013 sale! All adoption fees are 13% off! Apollo's reduced adoption fee is $30. ??? I don't think you can sell pets on just rehome them so why is there a sell of 13% off?
Omfg.  I explained to the person, nicely, I might add, that as a rescue, I am allowed to have something "for sale."  I told them, usually it's like $5 off a starter package, or $1 off a hammock, but this time, it's a reduced adoption fee.  I told her, I could put it "reduced adoption fee for January!!" but that doesn't have the same ring to it as "sale."  And, it gets people scratching their heads and emailing me asking "well... how is that different from a sale."  It's not.  But just because I am having a sale does not mean I am selling pets.  There is a difference.  They still have an adoption fee, it is just reduced.  I told em, I can't please everybody.  Some people don't like it worded as a "sale," others think its confusing if I put it up as "adoption fee reduction."  I confuse less people with "sale," so that's the term I used.  Gonna piss someone off no matter which way I go, I'm going to choose the one that makes more sense. 

I have a feeling all my ads are going to be flagged down tonight.  And I swear, I was actually nice to these people in their emails.  I admit, if I write an email and send it off without reading it, sometimes it can come across more aggressive than I'd like, or more negative than I'd like, but I read these emails several times and revised them so I wouldn't sound like an idiot, I'd sound like a reputable person running a rescue.  I still have no doubt the ads will get flagged.  

I remember that one year when I had 16 rescue chins come in within a month's time.  Well, probably more, but those 16 were all from the same place, hence why I remember them.  So, almost all of them completed evaluation around the same time, and at the very most, there was maybe a month between the time the first completed their eval and when the last completed their eval.  So, all of a sudden, I have hoards of chins available.  And for anyone wondering, I had extra runs out and many of these chins were living together, which is the only way I was able to have that many here all at once.  So, I had them all up on craigslist and on the other sites where I list the rescues, and I consistently got emails that the only way I would have that many chins up for adoption all at once was if I was a breeder who was trying to sell off chins that wouldn't breed, or was trying to get out of chin breeding.  Really?  Do they question the humane society when they have 60 dogs for adoption at once?  Didn't think so.  Just with chins, since there's only one "species" (versus so many breeds of dogs), people kept seeing a ton for adoption and apparently couldn't think of anything except *points fingers and yells* "BREEDER ALERT!! BREEDER ALERT!!"  Uh no.  Not these chins anyway, any actual chin breeder could have told you they had horrible fur and were not anything anyone would breed (and yes, I do get some nice looking chins in now and again, but they are rescues and are not bred, they are adopted out into pet homes).  But people apparently couldn't help themselves and every time I would put up an ad on craigslist, it would get flagged down.  I even took the time (stupidly) to email these people back when they'd have a cow and email me telling me how horrible I was for dumping all these chins at once.  Excuse me, me?  Horrible for dumping?  I think I'm the one who had them dumped on me, not the other way around.  But you know, my response, to them, was just a breeder backpedaling and trying to "sound" like a rescue so I could use craigslist to rehome the chins.  Uh-huh.  Can't change everybody's mind, but I can almost never just leave the email alone, I almost always feel the need to respond to the email.  Not because I feel guilty, but because I want the people to know what's really going on, and that I'm not this horrible person they think I am.  

Every once in a blue moon, there will be a chin/rat/whatever posted on craigslist, and when the people can't rehome it, after months, they will call and say "hey, I've had this critter up for adoption for x months, no one's called, can I come and drop it off."  So then, once it's here a month and I list it, and it's got the same name (though different pictures) and information (age, color, likes/dislikes, etc)... oh, they have at me then.  Then I'm an "animal flipper."  Yes, an animal flipper that took the time to get on PetFinder so I could quicker rehome the animals that I flip?  Yeah, that's probably about what they think.  I swear, people on that site have the most negative opinion of everyone.  And I hate to be mean, because I know I've sat here and called people animal flippers, but it's different when someone gets a guinea pig for free and then tries to charge $150 for it.  There's nothing different between Monday when the pig's for free and Tuesday when the listing is put up by the new home asking for $150.  At least here, when I take in the pets, they're here for at least a month, they're evaluated, they're weighed and checked that they are healthy, if they are not healthy they are not put up for adoption until the are, they get vet care if needed, they get the requisite foods (for chins, pellets and hay, for guinea pigs and rabbits, pellets, hay, leafy greens, and apples/carrots/etc, for rats, lab blocks, a dry mix, and extras), they are cared for well.  As in, I spend money to care for them, so by the time they're adopted out, with the exception of some of the higher priced chins, I've probably spent considerably more than $25 feeding and caring for every guinea pig and rabbit that comes through here, probably in leafy greens/veggies alone.  And I offer a health guarantee.  I think that warrants a $25 adoption fee (though definitely not a $150 one).  And for the chins, they have a higher adoption fee because they're a more expensive animal in general.  Not to feed, per se, but in terms of vet care, and also because of the fact that if I charged $20 per chin, everyone and their mother would be coming out of the woodwork wanting one.  I charge right around what other rescues charge for chins, and I think the price is fair.  Call it flipping if you want, but I hardly think taking in an animal, making sure it's well fed and healthy, screening owners and making sure they're actually a good home for the critter, and all that, is something a flipper would do.  Just my opinion though.

Other than that, been some good days.  My good friend Lisa, who I've known since middle school, came over to help the other day.  We built four houses and I probably have at least another one cut and ready to be sanded and put together.  She said she had fun, and she was holding some of the rabbits and guinea pigs and rats.  She doesn't have any pets, but she always talks about adopting when she gets a place of her own.  So we will see.  But that's good, cause now I have some houses sitting and drying.

Still need to make that motorhome for the order that the one guy put in.  Was thinking of doing it in the morning tomorrow, but since class is not being held because of MLK day, the usual time my capstone group would meet, the building will be closed, so we're all gong to meet in a coffee shop near the school location.  So, that'll be in the afternoon, I don't want to be covered in sawdust for that, so I'm hoping *fingers crossed* to start on that when I get home.  

I have all but one of the orders from the Twilight Auction/Flea-Market Event packaged up.  The one that I don't have ready yet is from this one person who wanted to get a hammock and some other stuff.... enough stuff that her order will actually have to go into a box rather than into one of the first class mail packages I have.  So I hope to get her an invoice for that tomorrow.  And then I have one more person I'm waiting on.  Someone from Canada had messaged saying they wanted the one shamrock hammock during the event, and after the event said they wanted to add another hammock.  Well, I hadn't yet updated my "fleece items for sale page," which shows all the available fleece patterns, as I won't actually remove a pattern until the person has picked up and paid for their hammock.  Otherwise, what happens is that I remove the picture and then the person doesn't buy the hammock, or never pays, and I end up having to put the picture back up.  Because, see, I use that page as the link that I give people when they ask what patterns I have available.  So, I hadn't updated the page yet, and the person asked me if they could get the dot explosion hammock, which someone had already claimed in the event.  So I told them that, and they said they would get back to me.  They still haven't, so I messaged them on facebook a bit ago asking if they'd decided anything.  Cause, ideally, people aren't supposed to back out (I know, I know, not supposed to, key words), but I would like to know, one way or the other, if I'm supposed keep those hammocks on the side for her or what.  The shamrock ones I have oodles of, I guess I bought more of the fabric since it was on clearance, so it's not like it's the last one of that color, but I have already enough clutter without having a hammock out on the table for someone who doesn't want to purchase it.  

When I would talk to Jean (of TJs), before I had my own chin store, she would talk about how people would order and she'd get the order together and then get back to them with shipping, and they'd never get back to her.  So she'd talk about how she'd have all these orders in boxes on her table ready to be mailed out, and half the people wouldn't get back to her, which is why she now only accepts orders through the shopping cart.  Which at the time, I was like "how bad could it be?" but now I see.  If someone wanted to know how much shelves would be, with shipping, I used to cut up the shelves, weigh them, find a box that fit, put them in the box, put in packaging materials, weigh all that, figure out shipping, and email them back.  And what would happen?  I'd never hear back from people, and then I'd have an order of shelves sitting around, either needing to be re-cut or used or sold or whatever.  Anymore?  Ha.  No, now... let's go with a recent calculation so it's something I can recall.  Someone wanted three 23" shelves and an 18" shelf and a corner shelf.  Ok, so 3 x 23 = 69 + 18 = 87.  87 / 12 = 7.25 feet.  So, I know that a board that's 6' long weighs roughly 6 pounds.  So, I write down 6 pounds.  I find a board that's roughly 15" long and weigh it.  Add that to the 6 pounds.  I figure that those shelves would have 15 bolts, 15 wingnuts, and 30 washers.  So, I pull those out and weigh them all.  Add that to the total.  Add another 2 pounds for box and packaging materials and tape, and now I have a total and a relative box size (because I know how long the boards are and about how tall the box will be considering I know how many boards I need to stack).  So, I use that box size and that weight to determine shipping.  And sometimes I'm off, especially if it's a box over 15 pounds that I have to use the human scale to weigh (versus the gram scale), or if it's a box that managed to fall under balloon rate packaging.  But if I'm considerably over the amount, they get money refunded, if I'm under, I eat the losses.  I had someone order a pound of mazuri and a goodie bag the other day.  I guess they wanted to give it a try.  Somehow, this order only ended up with $5.25 shipping.  Which, don't get me wrong, isn't pennies.  It was more shipping than the order cost ($1.25 + $2.00 = $3.25 total), but it still wasn't enough.  Because I couldn't get it in a small flat rate, I used the next tiniest box I had that would fit the two.  Shipping was like $7.35.  For a pound of food and a goodie bag.  Ridiculous.  But the point is, I eat it when it's an overage on my part for shipping (that order was paid through the shopping cart -- usually I give myself a $1 or so of a buffer if I'm actually quoting someone shipping, cause I can always refund if it's over).  Shipping is just getting so high anymore.

Moving on, today was supposed to be the day that the person dropped off the 5 chins.  Note, I said supposed to. This was the person that had cancelled at least 3 times prior.  So, it was like 4 am last night and still no email so I thought I was in the clear.  Uh, no.  I get an email at like 6 am that she found a place to move to where she can keep the chins.  That's positive, so good for her.  But here's the one pet peeve -- she said in the email that she found out "early yesterday morning."  Ok, so she found out early Saturday morning.... but she waits til 6 am Sunday to let me know?  Maybe it's just me, but if I find out I can't make a doctor's appointment or whatever appointment, if I can't be where I said I'd be, I call when I find out.  I don't wait until the day of, an hour before the appointment (unless that's when I found out) to let the people know.

On that note, I had someone picking up food the other day, and they were late.  Which was fine, because they had texted me a bit prior to when they should have been here, saying that they were going to be late.  It was almost funny, because my mom had asked me if she'd told me how late she was going to be, which she didn't.  So, probably an hour passed and she showed up and got her food.  Now, that was really late, but the point is, she had the decency to tell me that she wasn't going to be on time.  That's all I ask for.  Unless I have some pressing committment where I absolutely need to be out of the house by 5 pm (or whatever time), I will wait around for you to show up if you actually say you are still coming.  But, say I do have that committment, I probably would have mentioned it prior to scheduling an appointment, as I think it's important for people to know that, yes, I am squeezing them in at 4, but if they're still yapping at 5, I need to leave.  I think sometimes people think I have nowhere else to be, and that's fine if I really don't have anywhere else to be, but every once in awhile, I do schedule someone close to a time when I have a doctor's appointment or something of the sort where I have to be there on time.  And I tell people so they're aware that if they're considerably late, there won't be anyone here to adopt them their pet.

So that lady would have been my first appointment today, my second was that my volunteers from a few weeks ago came by to adopt one of the rats, Bella Boo.  So they adopted her and hopefully she's currently getting along good with their ratties.  Will get a pic up on happy customers within the next few days.  

I wrote up the ads today for Joey (rex rabbit), Dash (male rat), and the standard grey male kit that was returned after Christmas.  I plan to put those up tomorrow if I get a chance.
For my capstone class, we had agreed to get docs to me no later than Sunday at 6 pm, so I have time to put them all together in the master document, so I can send copies of that out to everyone Monday morning, and then we can all discuss come class time Monday night.  I swear this relates to the rescue.  So, today, the one guy in my group hadn't responded to me with his document, and you know, we each have a section and I can't say I completed mine, but I got a good part of mine done, and other people did the same, they completed part of their larger section and turned it in to me (I'm the group leader).  But for this guy, I hadn't received anything.  We're using this app called GroupMe, where everyone in the group can see our texts to each other (due to my saying, during week 1, that if we had any "he said, she said" argumentative crap going on that I had to break up, I was kicking people out of the group).  So, basically, any of us send a message in this app, and it goes to all of us.  So we'd all know what was being said from everyone to everyone.  So, I had sent a message out on this app saying that I hadn't received his part, and if he'd sent it, I needed him to re-try sending it (cause sometimes I'd get the email and, at the time, not realize there was no attachment, but this time, there wasn't even an email).  So I didn't hear back, and one of the other group members told me I should call him up, since we had all exchanged all contact info at the beginning as required.  So I called him, and he told me why he hadn't gotten it in and then... told me that since he'd brought home my business card with the chin on it (I handed those out to my group first class cause it has my email/phone/everything on it, rather than writing it out), his kid was begging him to go see a chin and see if it'd be the right pet for them.  So he wanted to set up a time to come out and see the chins.  He said we'll set that up tomorrow when we all meet.  So, we'll see how it goes.  
I never did get a call from that casino job that I was mentioning on here that I applied for.  So I guess I managed to screw that up somehow.  Ah well, something's got to pop up eventually, right?  I suppose I'm lucky that the rescue is at the point where it's supporting itself, because if it wasn't, I sure don't have the money coming in to keep it running on my own.      

When I was going on about closing the rescue, someone told me last week (if it was you, I apologize that I can't remember who said it), if it wasn't for the rescue, who would have taken in Rochelle, or paid for Shiloh's surgery, or paid for all of Fuzzy's care (way back when)?  Which made me think, because, that's true, the people who had Rochelle weren't going to take her to the vet, and if they'd posted her for free hoping someone would take her in and get medical care, most people would see a free chin and grab it without paying any attention to the fact it needed medical attention.  Which is why, when I have sanctuary animals, I don't have them listed as "free to good home," in fact, they're not listed at all, cause (sorry for the prejudice) the biggest creeps come out of the woodwork when you say something is free.  I tried it once or twice with a chin and something else.  One needed significant medical attention, the other just needed monitoring, and the ads both specified this, and I always got people who never made it past the word "free."  So that's why, if you have one of the sanctuary animals, you remember that it was offered to you, and you had probably no knowledge that I even had that animal before I asked if you wanted it.  That way, the correct people end up with the animals.  But anyway, when I think about it, Rochelle may have never been taken in for treatment, and that leg may have gotten even further infected, become septic, and died.  Fuzzy would have died from his impaction without months and $1000+ worth of treatment (which pales in comparison to the $2700 spent on Shiloh, though the $1000 was back at the beginning when the rescue was only bringing in a few hundred per year).  And with Shiloh, the people was with couldn't even touch him.  I remember them literally taking the carrier, inverting it so the open end was down, and shaking it, the way you'd shake a suitcase to get crumbs out.  They said he'd bite and you couldn't touch him.  But they'd said they bathed him, and when I asked how, they said they dumped him in the bathtub.  Well, that I can vaguely understand, because we have bathed him once and it was QUITE the ordeal.  But those people, would they have spent that kind of money and took the time to handfeed him while he was gnawing on my hand creating lots of miniature puncture wounds all the while?  I doubt it.  I'm not trying to make myself sound like something special, but the few animals that really do need medical help, or even just the right food and clean water to recover from years of bad treatment, there is a question of where they'd be without the rescue.  Shiloh would definitely have passed.  I don't remember the exact days, but the first time we took him in, for his breathing, he was put on metacam (anti-inflammatory, pain med) and said give it a week.  By day 2, I wasn't comfortable with his breathing and we rushed him back to the vet.  He had his surgery the following afternoon, and stayed at the vet for the next 7 days, running up a $2700 bill.   Apparently, the trachea on a prairie dog is so far back that they can't adequately breathe out of their mouths, so if forced to, they will eventually die of exhaustion.  He was on oxygen for just about the entire time.  And not that I don't cringe when I think of that vet bill, but so many people, when given an estimate of $650-$2100, would say forget it, and put the animal down.  Obviously, that estimate was a tad blown out of the water, but at the point you're spending $2100, I suppose an extra $500 isn't something you're going to argue with.  It's over and done with at that point.  
Those kind of animals are the ones that need the rescue open.  I remember how surprised the vet was when I gave the go-ahead for Rochelle's laser therapy.  Or even Pixie's (guinea pig) steroid use, and how happy the vet was to hear that she was using her legs again.  There need to be people willing to try to save the animal, even if it means using new technologies and alternative meds and techniques.  Steroids aren't approved for use in small animals.  They cause all sorts of weird side effects internally, not to mention, Pixie was losing fur like no tomorrow.  Same with Rochelle -- she had such a bad infection, we were using an antibiotic made for dogs because the vet thought it would work quicker (and in effect, end up with us losing less tissue to tissue death) than a small animal antibiotic.  But, when the alternative is putting the animal down, then the alternative methods, even with their side effects, look appealing.  If they don't work, or cause the animal pain, the animal gets put down anyway, but at least you tried.  The animal's no worse off.  But on the other hand, they could actually work and then the animal is considerably better off.  But it takes the right vet and the right person to say, yeah, we're going to spend the money on the new therapy, or we're going to try different meds, or we're going to save this pet even though those 10 other vets don't think we can.  Not that I've never turned away a sick animal -- sometimes I do literally have enough sick ones here that I don't literally have enough hours in the day to care for them all (but I do send them to another good rescue) -- but the ones I take in, I make sure they are cared for well.  I can't say that about everyone who owns animals, and that's a shame.  Most people don't even see the animals until they are healthy and almost ready for adoption.  If I have a sick critter that might upset someone to see its injury, or needs peace and quiet, it's usually somewhere off where it's not visible to the average person at the rescue.  But if you all saw the condition of some of the animals I get in, it's amazing how bad people can treat their animals and still think they're "caring for them well."  And I'm glad there's people out there with rescues, like me and my friends (seems when you have a rescue, you tend to meet others that run rescues), who take in those animals, and make sure to educate the next owner, so the cycle doesn't repeat itself.  I think, for the most part, we do a good job.  There will always be some people who slip through the cracks -- some who aren't great owners, that we don't realize until later on -- but for as much as we all usually have on our plates at once, and with as much effort that we put into it and how hard we try -- I'd say we're doing pretty good.  :)

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