Thursday, January 22, 2015

Prices and other things

Hi all.

Let's talk about pricing.  I had someone message me the other day asking about how much it was to adopt / buy a chinchilla.  Well, that's not a few-word answer, so I told them:

It depends on the chinchilla.  A rescue chinchilla that's an adult, standard grey, would be $75.  A rescue adult that's a different color would be $100, unless it's over 8 years old, then it would be $75.  Babies, whether rescues or adults, start at $135 and go up based on age, color, quality, etc.  As those babies get closer to being adults, costs go down.  That's why you see some chins listed that are closer to a year and more in the $115-125 price range.  Is there something specific you're looking for?

They responded with "black baby or adult that's pricy"

Now, any of you that know me even reasonably well know that that was the wrong thing to say.  Because money is not something the rescue has a lot of, and calling my fees "pricy" is just bullshit. 

I told the person, the only black I have right now is a special needs black velvet female.  And then went on to mention, the fees are hardly pricy.  Pet store prices usually start at $150 (I think I paid $200 or $225 for a beige, back when) per chin, and it's unusual for me to have many that are that price or over.  The average chin here is $100 or under (exceptions being pairs).  Told him, the adoption fees aren't cheap like what he might see on craigslist or something like that, but this is a rescue.  All the critters here are given vet care if needed, cared for well (which is way more than I can say for some people with ads up for rehoming chinchillas), and come with a health guarantee.  Yes, they cost more, but the adopter is getting more.

Say you go and buy a chin from someone on craigslist.  It keels over dead the next day.  You call up the person, leave a voicemail.  They're not stupid, they don't call you back, and they intentionally don't pick up your phone calls.  Even if you wanted to sue them (not sure for what), animals are considered no different than a fridge, and if there's no express statement that it is guaranteed healthy for x amount of time... it could die the second you pay for it, and you would be out of luck.  So... yeah you paid $20 for that chin, but now it's dead, your kids are bawling, and really, you're out $20.  And often, as a result of such an experience, then people go to the pet store and buy a $150 chin, because they think that'll last longer (which it may, don't get me wrong), and in the end, spend way more than they would have in the first place.

Versus coming to the rescue --> not all rescues offer health guarantees, but this one does.  Ours is 7 days, though I often tell people, if the chin dies or gets sick, I will not be counting the days.  If it was reasonably recent, I will cover it.  Now, I can say that, and do that, because if I even have an inkling that an animal is sick, it will not be adopted out, and therefore, I only adopt out what I believe to be,  healthy animals (and time has proven that correct, the grand grand grand grand majority of the time).  But say I'm wrong.  It's happened before, nothing is full proof.  Maybe the animal was in the first few days of a respiratory infection, and I didn't notice, or heck, maybe it was fine, and caught a cold on the way home.  Either way, I get a phone call, adopters says hey, my critter is sick.  Ok, we have a chat, they take it to the vet, get me the bill, and I pay it.  (Ok, in reality, it's a tad bit more complicated than that, but that's the basic gist).  Say the animal dies.  Due to fakers, I need to either see the body or see a picture of the dead animal, and I will either refund the money or replace the chin (if more expensive by a lot [$75 vs $175], they pay the difference).

But see, with the rescue, there's a solution.  If the chin's sick, I will make it well.  In the event it dies anyway, I've spent MY money (not theirs) trying to get it well, and they would still get a replacement chin if it died.  If it dies (through no fault of their own), it gets refunded or replaced.  Can you say that for your $20 craigslist chin?

Also want to note a few more things.  Cause believe me, this would not be the first person lately to ask me why they should spend more to get a rescue chin versus go on craigslist and get one that comes with everything for half the price.  Or even get one at the pet store, young baby.  Ok, fine, I'll bite.  Here's why.

At the pet store:  Many pet stores will no longer allow you to physically hold animals prior to purchase.  Don't you want to hold the pet that you will be owning for the next 15-20 years?
At the rescue:  You can hold the chinchilla.

At the pet store / person's home:  Most often, there will be one chinchilla.  Do you like it?  Do you not?  Do you really have anything to compare it to?  If you don't like that specific one, you'll leave empty handed.  Or, maybe you'll just take that one, whether you really like it or not, because it's your only option.
At the rescue:  There's multiple chinchillas up for adoption.  You can hold various ones, decide which one you like, out of the ones available. 

At the pet store:  Most often, the pet store people can tell you nothing about the personality of the chinchilla.  I manage a pet store, and even with me being a small animal person, there's so much going on, that this is the extent of my small animal personality assessment:  does it bite me?   No?  Then it's "sweet."  If it bites, "it's evil and your kids won't like it."  See, and that's coming from someone who cares.  Pet store employees don't typically have time to learn the personalities of the critters in their care.  
At the rescue:  We spend ample hours with the various critters we have.  We can tell you a little bit about them, where they came from (versus "from a company called Apet").  We can tell you their likes and dislikes.  When they start to bark at you, we can tell you, "oh she's all bark and no bite," or, on the other hand, "if she starts that, she'll spray, leave her alone."  Because we spend time with them and we know.  So, we can recommend the best one for you, if you care for our opinion on that sort of thing.  And even if you don't want our opinion in person, we've written these things into the ads we write about the furballs, so you can decide whether we have any that you might want to come look at in the first place.

At the pet store:  It's not that the employees don't care, but chances are, if the furball is sick, they don't notice until it's on death's door.  If it was sick, it wouldn't be for sale, but if they don't know, they can sell it to you, and it can die.  But chances are, they have no clue one way or the other. 
At the rescue:  Most rescues closely monitor their animals (we do it, in part, by weight on a gram scale) to make sure the animals are eating, drinking, pooing, and so on.   If there was a past problem with the animal, it will be mentioned.  Full disclosure.  No reason to hide anything, because we want the animals to go into homes that understand their history, and how that could potentially affect their future.
At someone's home:  People lie.  Sorry, but that's just the reality.  Some just don't know either way, but I've found, many many many many times over, people will tell you to your face "oh yeah, healthy as a hog!" and then the chinchilla either keels over dead the next day, turns out to not be eating, turns out to have an impaction, has an open wound somewhere on it's body, has a respiratory infection, has dental disease / malo.... I could go on.  And I don't mean little things like, oh it sneezed once and they didn't notice.  I mean like the chin was drooling so much that the entire chin and belly were soaking wet and the food didn't go down in the food bowl for weeks, or the chin had snot bubbles coming out of it's nose with every breath.  Some things are more subtle, like respiratory infections.  But still... I've found, people know, and will lie.  Because, common sense says, no one wants to adopt / buy an unhealthy animal.  So, if people think that telling you it's healthy will get you to purchase it, "oh yeah, healthy as a hog."  A rescue wouldn't adopt out an un-healthy animal (note, one that could be made well, versus one with an ongoing, non-fixable health problem), but if they did know of a health problem, either in the past or something that could crop back up in the future, they'd let you know. 

At a pet store:  You take the critter home.  There's a 14 day (or however long) return policy.  After that, good luck.  If you decide you no longer want the critter, it's up to you to re-home it.
At a rescue:  When you adopt, you sign an adoption contract requiring that you will return the animal to the rescue.  Some rescues (mine being one), do have a 14 day return option, but should you go past that, you are required to bring the animal back.  And if you don't, and I find out you are selling it elsewhere, I will track you down.  Point is, though, if / when you no longer want the animal, all that is involved is you returning it, and you don't need to go through the hassle of rehoming it yourself.

At the pet store:  Have a question about your new small animal?  They have a care sheet (one page) for you.  Maybe, if you're lucky, someone working there who knows something about the animal you're buying, who can maybe answer some basic questions for you.  But need anything else?  That's all you.
At a rescue:  We're here to help.  I probably answer more emails with random questions, health and otherwise, about chinchillas and their care, than I do emails regarding adoptions.  Why?  Because people have questions, and don't know where to turn.  And, rescues all know each other, and tend to know a lot of other animal people, so we can get the answer if we don't have it.  Adopt an animal from here, and you gain a lifetime of support.  I get calls and texts and emails all the time from people who adopted years ago who want to know if a product is safe, or what I think about this or that.  That's what I'm here for.  Same with other rescues I know.  We can also just be sources of general info.  Had someone contact me about if I knew of vets that would do tumor removal on a rat for a reasonable price.  I asked if they'd contacted the local rat rescue, they had, but the options provided were either prohibitively expensive, or reasonable, but multiple-hours-drive-away.  I knew a girl at work who had a tumor removed on her rat for a reasonable amount, so I told the caller that I would talk to the girl and call her back the next day.  Got the info at work, called the person, they now have their tumor removal scheduled, at a reasonably priced vet that's not hours and hours away from them.  Point is, you need something, most rescues will try to help you out however they can.  Whether that's answering questions about care, or helping you find a rescue in your area, or whatever it is. 

At the pet store:  Not sure which supplies are safe for your critter?  Chances are, employees have no idea either.  They're likely to tell you, if it's got a chinchilla on the package, it's safe.
At the rescue:  This sort of goes along with the previous one, but a rescue can tell you what the safe items are.  Often, they'll provide a care packet (like we do) that specifies safe type items.  Some (like mine) even go further to sell safe items, so as to eliminate the need for questioning, if people choose to get their items from the rescue. 

I'm sure there's more, but aren't those differences enough to make the average person think twice about getting an animal from a pet store or craigslist, versus a rescue?

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