Ok, so I would like to share with you all the story of a chin that I heard over the phone, when someone called inquiring whether we'd take the chin into our rescue. We actually referred her to a much closer rescue to her, but we may still get the chin, if that rescue is full.
So the lady tells me, the chinchilla keeps getting respiratory infections. During these respiratory infections, the chin stops eating, and the lady has to get critical care and handfeed the chin. During these respiratory infections, the chin drools. The vet is the one diagnosing these as respiratory infections... now let's be honest, this sounds like classic malocclusion.
The owner did say the chin has had the teeth filed once or twice, and that has helped immensely, and the chin bounces right back to eating after the filing. But her main concerns were time and money.
Now, this lady said that she works 8-10 hours a day. Raise your hand if you, also, work 8 hours a day.... I imagine that's a good chunk of the living population of humans. Everyone has their own perspective for how long chin care "takes," but I always find it interesting when people tell me that they don't have time, but they actually have about as much time as everyone else, to devote to their pets. But if she doesn't think that's enough time, especially considering the chin has been sick and has to go into the vet a few times since she's gotten the chin, all means, that's fine.
I guess the part that irks me is the money. Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate putting malo chins through filing after filing after filing. If people want to drop $10-15k on their chin over the course of the life, have the chins constantly under anesthetic every month, have to handfeed the chins... by all means. To me, that's pretty much no quality of life for the chin. However, when taking on any pet, I do believe that the owner should be willing to spend some amount of money on vet care for the animal. Just because they didn't take in a dog or a cat doesn't mean, in my opinion, that they should be cost-free, if the animal were to get sick. This lady, for example, told me that she has already spent $300-400 over the last 6 years on this chinchilla, and that the last vet bill was over $100. Maybe it's just me, because I remember Shiloh's $2900 vet bill that we had a few years back (and again, I don't think people have to go quite that far with expenses, everyone has their limits, but...), but I feel like in the scheme of things, that's not all that much money. It is, but it's not. A vet bill being over $100 is pretty standard... I can rarely get out of ANY vet's office, even for something super simple, for under $200, so to me, over 6 years, $300-400 for a chin that's constantly sick is practically a steal! Haha. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that she shouldn't release the chin to a rescue or anything of the sort. It's perfectly fine if she's over her head and realizes it's too much to care for a sick chin, on top of her already busy life. That's fine. But the money part... that's really not that much to spend, to be honest.
And, mind you, this is the same person that complained that it is 30 minutes to their vet's office (omg, much too far to drive), the cage cost them $80. The fur on the chin is matted (likely due to the drooling) and she doesn't want to pay to have the matts removed by the vet....
Here's the point of all of this. When I get people here who are filling out our adoption paperwork, I routinely get people ask me -- "do I have to answer all the questions?" Now, personally, I want to bang my head up against the wall, because it's really not that difficult -- here it is -- http://www.nwichinchillas.com//NWI%20Chinchilla%20Adoption%20Form%20-new.doc -- 2 pages. Half of the first page asks where you live and info about your living situation. So there's two questions on there about vet bills -- the one basically asks if the potential adopter understands that vet bills can be expensive, and the other asks if the potential adopter can afford possible vet bills. Again, I will clarify, that I don't expect people to spend thousands on their chins, but I do expect them to at least take them to the vet and get some vet work done (and I give kudos to this lady for at least doing that). The reason these questions are on there are because people seem to think, ok they'll get a chinchilla, and it'll be super cheap because it doesn't routinely need to go to the vet (which is true, routine visits aren't necessary). But then, the second the chin gets sick, people immediately tend to go "omg, that's too much, let me find the nearest rescue." Now, I'm not saying that's all people; some people do legitimately spend a lot of money on the health and well-being of their chins, but the ones I tend to run into, as a rescue, are the ones where they've spent some money, and that was more than they ever wanted to spend in the first place, and so the chin ends up in rescue. Again, not saying people have to spend their life savings on a chin, but I would just like my own potential adopters to realize that if the chin ever does need to go to the vet, there will be a cost. Not $20, but rather, more like the cost of taking a cat or dog to the vet. If that's a problem for someone -- well, I was going to say, maybe a chinchilla is not the right pet for them, but actually, maybe no pet is right for them, as any pet, even as small as a hamster, could possibly even go to the vet and wrack up huge vet bills. What it comes down to, is people need to think about these things before they go and get a pet.