With today being the last day to adopt / pickup until the 28th, I thought I'd post about the last fun one that I had. It never fails that I get a lot of "fun ones" around this time of year. And I posted about some of them, but let me share the last one. The ones that really drive me nuts are the ones that don't seem to read what I write, and give me generic responses that don't tell me anything.
Him: My wife has just passed away from old age. Would love to replace it for her for xmas. Plz contact me. My name is [name]. Thanks
Me: Your wife's what? Message just says "my wife has passed away" but that doesn't seem quite right
Him: Her chinchilla Angel
Me: Ok. Is there a particular one you're interested in?
Him: Actually looking for a pair. No particular one. Im trying to make her smile. She's been so depressed
Me: I only have one established pair right now and have someone interested in them. I could try to pair up some of the other ones if you wanted though
Him: That would be nice
Me: Ok well I couldn't do it until tomorrow after work and if you wanted em by Christmas, tomorrow would be the last day you'd be able to come get em because the rescue is closed from the 23rd - 27th so I can spend time with my family. How much are you looking to spend for a pair? So I know which ones are potentially able to go together. Also, to adopt, we have a chinchilla care packet you would need to read and an adoption form to fill out, so you would have to have that done by tomorrow as well. I can email those to you if you'd like?
Him: That's fine
Me: Alrighty what's your email? What about price range?
Him: [email] I don't know what u want for them
Me: Ok, I'll send email in a bit. Well, rescues typically run from 75-100 and you get $25 off if you're getting two. But then I also have some pedigreed chins that are younger that are from 150-175. The thing is, without trying to put any of these together, I don't know if they'll get along. So, like if I knew how much you were looking to spend, I know what chins to pair up. Like if your max was say $150, then I would only be trying to put rescues together to stay within your budget. Does that make sense?
Him: Yes that's fine
Me: Right but so that I don't pair two chins and then have it be too much for you, what is your budget?
Him: I will discuss it with my wife when she gets back
Me: Alrighty. I emailed you the care packet and adoption form
And after all of that... never received the adoption form back, never heard back from the guy. And I had a few people at work read this, because I admit, sometimes I've sad something and then people tell me it's not clear, but the people at work told me, all I was asking for was a max price, so I knew which chins to put together. And I even asked em, why did I need that? And they told me, cause some chins are cheaper, so if they say, ok, lower budget, you don't take two $150 chins and pair them, to get a fee of $275 (with discount), if their budget is $150 (because then they can't afford $275, and while I do occasionally give discounts, $275 down to $150 would not be one of them). THANK YOU. Not that difficult.
And I suppose the frustrating thing is... this is a LOT of people. Spend time sending them the forms, talking to them. Never get the form back, never hear back. And I'm sure it happens at other rescues too, it's just frustrating. Because I literally will have people ask me, "what do you spend all the money from adoption fees on?" Like, as if I should be drowning in the money, able to throw wads of cash in the air and let it fall back down and let the chins use it as a chew toy. Not quite. I purchased 200 pounds of food on 12/8. Roughly $150ish. Now, I do sell the food, and some people buy a full 25 pound bag, but right now, I am literally down to 50 pounds. It is 14 days later. And that's JUST food. They also need hay, and chew toys. They drink water. Cost electricity to keep the rescue heated / cooled / etc. So yeah, there was a two week period where I adopted out four chins and, between adoption fees and supply sales, the rescue made about $600. But then, consider, we had a month or two of no adoptions whatsoever. Being adopted or not, they still all need food, water, toys, clean bedding, and so on and so forth. The money has to be there, even when the adoptions aren't. I can't just say "yay $600" and go splurge on something for them. That has to continue to pay for their food and vet bills, and has to stretch from one adoption to the next.
Before I get to the next fun person, I want to take a quick break from that to mention sanding wood shelves. New shelves are sanded to get off any rough edges and splinters. Used shelves are sanded to remove the grime, make them look better, and make them more sanitary. But I don't think people realize how much better the shelves can look when they're sanded.
See pic below. Apparently my phone camera washes out how dark the left side is. Right side looks like new wood that's never been used, right? No, that's the side that was sanded. The left side (well, a bit darker than shown, but you get the idea) is how the entire house looked before sanding. Little bit of sanding and it all comes off, you have nice looking wood underneath. Doesn't it look better? I should have taken a before and after pic, but you get the idea. Way better look if you sand it. And it feels like nice smooth new wood again. This is also how the used shelves (only sold as part of a used cage, I don't just randomly sell used shelves except the tiny perch shelves on request) and used houses look halfway decent. Like this was a house that was purchased from here, brought back when chins were brought in, and someone wanted a used house, sanded it up, and out it went to its new home. Except for the fact that the sides are chewed and two holes on the front now connect, the wood itself looked nice and clean.
Next time I fix a cage, I'm going to take before and after pics... Cause one thing people ask me, is why do I sell used cages for so much. Which, I don't think it's a lot, used medium cages are often $80+, used multi-chin cages are often $90+... and they usually top out at about $150 and you're getting a heck of a cage for that.... but the reason they're not like $20 is.... because most times, the cages are in super shape (and if they're not, the prices reflect that) and I've put a lot of work into cleaning them and making them pretty. And not saying you all wouldn't believe me, but just to show the transformation, next time I work on a cage, we're getting before and after shots... so you can see why, if I sold the cage dirty, it'd be way less than when it's all nice and clean.
Personally, when I donate things to places, I clean em. If I'm donating clothes, they're washed and folded. If I'm donating whatever, it's clean. But more often than not, our donated items are grimy beyond belief. Which, don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have em, most of the time, cause you'd be amazed what can come off. But it would be nice if people would put a little more effort before bringing me a cage with 4" of feces dried on the bottom.
Anyway, back to the "fun" people -- I had someone the other day, come to my work, realize I ran the chin rescue (cause Scottie is at work, and there's a sign above his cage, one line of which states that the rescue person works at the store), and tell me "oh it must be easy to run a small animal rescue, nothing much to it, since they're small animals." Floored. Absolutely floored. It's not difficult in that you need to be super smart or anything like that. But it takes effort:
- There's always cages to clean. Water bottles to fill. Food bowls to fill.
- There's stuff to take upstairs / downstairs. I make an effort, if I am going upstairs, take a bag of chin trash with me. If I am going downstairs to the rescue, take something with me.
- There's paperwork. Lots of paperwork. Not even legal paperwork, just inner-rescue stuff to keep track of everything.
- There's vet bills.
- There's finding time to go to the vet.
- There's finding time to go anywhere -- including the laundromat to wash chin-items that are not griming-up my washer and dryer.
- There's getting in the chins that people swear up and down are healthy... and then finding out that they either had no clue, or straight up lied (which is often the case... it may not be obvious to me for a few days that the chin isn't eating.. but it was likely obvious to the previous home), and then gotta figure out what's wrong, usually with a hefty vet bill.
- There's moving things around. I have two rabbits right now, one can go in my bottom half of my GP/rabbit FN. Well, my mom's taking my last guinea pig, so I can actually move both rabbits into the FN for the time being, but I need to clean both top and bottom first. Then I have another FN that will literally be sold as soon as it's clean (already have a buyer), and the chins need to move into my standard-rescue-cages. But I need to clean those first as well. But even without having more animals than I need, sometimes pairs come in and then later don't get along. Gotta split those up. Then people want a pair. Gotta try to pair up chins.
- There's finding room for transfers. I don't get a ton of chins from other shelters. I suppose I should be lucky, because the two places I get chins from (CatNap from the Heart, and I suppose I can't name the other for legal reasons) both I would like to stay on good terms with. With CatNap, I suppose they could care for them, they just figure I can better, and they've transferred chins here a few times. Right now, Arcadio and Aureliano are from CatNap, one of their people drove them to me at my work. I scrambled to get a cage ready for them, cause I was full, but not a good idea to turn away chins from another rescue, because we need to keep up good relations. The other place, let's call it "the hell hole," because it really is, and is politically a mess to deal with -- is a kill shelter, that occasionally gets in chins. They won't contact me directly, because it's an Illinois shelter, and you have to be a 501C3 rescue in IL to pull from them, but I get an email from my contact person, and another rescue pulls them and transfers them (inter-rescue-like) to my rescue and we often meet in Homewood at the Petco (or is it Petsmart? whichever). If I don't get em, I hate to think what might happen to em. So those I jump at the chance to get outta there. But the thing is, I'm lucky these places don't get em in all the time, because I don't often have empty cages for when chins turn up here, and I don't want the chins to go to worse homes. People on my dropoff waiting list can often simply wait for me to have an open spot at the rescue, but a chin at a kill shelter could be put down if I don't get it out.
- There's cleaning. Both rescue cages and random supplies. For the supplies, you'd be amazed how quickly food bowls start looking poo'd on or sticky or whatnot. All those need to be washed. Thank God, I have a sink in the basement (which was like a pre-requisite to getting a house), so I pretty much throw everything that needs to be washed in a big tote, and wash some stuff when I get time. I have enough food bowls, water bottles, etc, to be able to take a few out, stick a few clean ones in, and be ok. Can't do em all at once, I don't have that many spares, but I have enough that I don't have to immediately wash a food bowl or water bottle if I remove it from the cage.
- Going along with the cleaning -- when I get in a chin, it is nice to get in supplies with it. Always good to have food to help switch over the chin. Well, that food will get mixed with my food, so the chin doesn't have a cold turkey switch to the new one. And good to have the supplies to sell (well, most of them... some things get pitched or donated to other places). To be blunt though... a lot of the chins that are brought in, are brought in by owners who have fallen way behind in cleaning. Not that I can say that's never happened here, because it can easily happen. But, there's also a crapload of chins here. It should be easier with one chin. Anyway, before I can sell anything, I have to wash it. A lot of stuff has to soak to get the grime off, and sometimes it's not until after I've scrubbed the grime off that I see that the item's in such bad shape that I can't sell it and it just needs to be pitched anyway. I believe in recycling, so if something's dirty but can be recycled, I'll clean it just so I can throw it, cleaned, in recycling. Within reason, of course.
- I sell the used cages. They usually come in with some grime on them, and in the summer, they can get taken out and hosed down and cleaned. Bit more difficult in the winter, but same concept, but they get washed inside. Shelves made, installed, pictures taken. Pics and descriptions put up on website and other places, so people may see them and buy them, and so if people ask what cages I have, I have all that ready with dimensions and such.
- Phone calls and emails. My life revolves around answering rescue phone calls and emails. I need a smart phone, not because I have that many friends to keep in touch with, but because people are constantly calling for something or another. Which is fine, good to be noticed. But sometimes it can really get annoying. Yesterday, a potential chin owner sent a group text message out to 18 people. I imagine, 18 people who had ads up for chins for sale. Asked if we still had the chin, if we shipped, few more thing. So for the next 5 hours, my phone buzzed across the desk non-stop as every one of those people texted back and forth. Now, that was just one person that made my, and everyone else who was a recipient of that text (but was not selling a chin to the guy)'s life hell.
- Time. At the end of the day, what the rescue takes is time. And super flexibility. I try to be nice and flexible, I do. Let's break this down.
- First, to run a rescue, you gotta love the animals, and this has to be something you want to do. Let's take a step back. I work retail, and that is my choice. I used to work retail in college, said "never again," then I had office jobs. I hated them. Found em super boring. For those that don't know, I'm a licensed attorney in the state of Indiana, three degrees (BS in psychology, JD (law), and Masters of Business), and I choose to be a Store Manager of a Pet Supplies Plus store. Way overqualified, to say the least. Why? Because I like it. It pays next to nothing (especially compared to what an attorney could make), but I like it, and that's what counts. Which is the same for the rescue. I have my days where I rant and rave, but at the end of the day, I do like seeing the critters find homes. I like the animals (when they're not escaping). In general, on most days, it's something I want to do. And it has to be, because it's not something most people pat you on the back for.
- Second, if you want it to work, you have to be flexible with your own time, while setting limits. I know, that sound like an oxymoron. This year, I said no pickups, adoptions, supply sales, ANYTHING, from the 23rd - 27th this month. That's my setting limits, cause otherwise I get stepped on, to help them out. Which, at the end of the day, isn't fair to me. That said... I pretty much bend over backwards on the average day for these people. Just a few examples. Had someone set to come at 8:30 the other week. Said they were gonna be late, but would be here by 10. Showed up around 10:45, cage wouldn't fit in the car, we had to take it apart. They were gone around midnight. Other day, I'd tried to set up multiple appointments with this one person to get them a cage. We had a date set, but that was the day my dog got sick and I rushed her to the emergency vet, so we had to cancel that and re-set for the next day. Well, I got off work at 7:30, told her, come at 8:30 or later. They showed up a little after 9. Wanted to see the chins, so by the time they saw the chins, we talked about the chins, and then got the cage fit in their car, and talked about shelves they wanted to get at a future date, they were gone by 10:30. Had someone else show up 9ish the other day for an adoption. Today, someone wanted to pick up chin food. I've been in and out since I came home from work, so I told em, I'll set it outside, would be out there by 5 pm. Didn't quite get out of work on time, so had to rush home, hurry up and bag it up, so it'd be out there for when they showed up.
- Point of all this is, you have to work around other people's schedules. I'd love to say, people can only come Tuesdays between 5-9 pm. You don't even understand how much that would make my life easier. But then, people would just go elsewhere. If someone wants a cage, and wants to come at 9 at night, and I have no good reason to say no... I should probably tell them they can come and just pray they show up on time. Cause god knows the rescue can always use more money. If I'm not available within a day or two from when they need the cage (not people who are adopting, but people who just need a cage or supplies), they will get it elsewhere, and the rescue will lose out. With the exception of a few repeat customers who I'm pretty positive come back to me everytime, the average person will not.
- Third, unlimited patience. Or the ability to fake it. I had the one guy at work today describe my patience, compared to other people like this. Everyone else has a cookie. I have a miniscule crumb. Which is absolutely true, and I admit it. It absolutely drives me nuts, in retail, the statement that "the customer is always right." NO, they're not. And as manager, I don't always give them what they want, because, simply, they're just not always right. And I don't always bend over backwards for people, it just depends. You'll have a lot better luck asking to come pick something up at 9-10 pm than you will at 5-6 am. Just not a morning person, and the rescue isn't going to turn me into one. But the point is, the crazies come out, and you gotta be able to handle them calmly. I have my days where that doesn't work out so well. But in general, like with the guy texting. My gut reaction, which my friends could tell you, would be to simply say, "dude, you didn't answer my question. I'm not repeating it, re-read the text, and answer the question." I know you're all sitting there reading this, nodding your heads. But in reality, that sort of attitude gets you nowhere. Oh I can post that on here, but it won't get that person to adopt from me if they think I'm being an ass (even if, in all fairness, they didn't read). Lots of counting to 10 for me.
- Interacting with the animals. Learning their personalities, so I have something to write when the time comes to put them up for adoption.
- Fixing things that break. That includes, catching loose chins. If a bar breaks on a cage, I guarantee you the chin knows about it. How they know, I don't know, but they get out. I have a Happy Trap that works every time, and I've about gotten to the point now, where if I can't catch the chin in 10 minutes, the trap comes out, baited with cheerios, and I go back upstairs. No sense wheezing and wearing myself out, when the chin will come out when I'm not there. But then, gotta repair the bar. Gotta fix cage issues. Just adopted out two girls the other week, they had a hanging fleece hidey house, and a corner hammock. The way they chewed the shelf the hanging house was hanging from, the one eyelet came out. Had to screw that back in. Have to put a new grommet in the one corner of the corner hammock so that can be re-hung. Doesn't take long, but figure this times like 20 rescue cages that each have oodles of stuff in them to break.
- Filling chew toys. They chew em. The toys fall off of em. Toys need re-drilled.
- Talking to the customers and potential adoptive homes. I get a lot of people asking about shelves, food, supplies... I spend a lot of time on the phone with them, and more time here with them when they're picking up. Same with adoptive homes. Talk to them, educate them. They read the care packet, have questions stemming from that. Answer those, get them the care packet, and adoption form. They get it back, I go over it, talk to them about any potential issues. Decide whether to adopt to them or not.
- Keeping the website at least reasonably up to date. I do my best, I really do. The page that I try my absolute hardest to keep up to date is the available chins page, because that's the important one. But in general, the entire thing needs to be edited here and there, and tweaked, and that takes time.
- Last but not least... supply sales. The adoption fees come nowhere near paying the bills. Not even close. So, I sell food and water bottles and used cages and toys and all that. Gotta find the time and effort and all to build all that, so I have it to sell.
Mind you, I'm not complaining about this stuff. I'm just saying, this is all stuff that goes into running the rescue. It's not "nothing to it" by any means. It's do-able.
None of this stuff takes a genius to do. But it takes someone to do it.