Monday, December 31, 2018

Getting Pets While Not Able to Afford Vet Bills

We've taken in quite a few sick animals lately, so I wanted to touch on this.  Not that I think any of you would do this, but still...

If you want to get a pet, you need to be able to afford basic vet care.

Now, I'm not talking about affording a $1000 vet bill.  However, you should be able to afford to take the animal in, and at minimum, be able to afford that initial vet bill and possibly ending the animal's suffering if the problem is that bad.

The two cases that stuck out were actually both guinea pigs.  The first one was a guinea pig that was passed around several times.  Turns out, Person 1 had the guinea pig and gave it to their cousin, Person 2... we assume because of it's skin (and other?) issues.  Person 2 takes the guinea pig, knowing it has skin issues, while only working one day per week and knowing she cannot afford to take this guinea pig to the vet, and tries to treat these skin issues at home.  I don't know with what, I didn't ask, but my guess would be... anti-dandruff shampoo (as that's what people seem to think will fix all small animal skin issues).  She calls us, turns out she's now had this guinea pig for 1-2 months, has been treating it at home the entire time, and it's only getting worse.  Imagine that.  So she brings him in to us.  Poor thing didn't even have a name, and looked (if he was a dog), he had mange.  Most of his fur missing, what was left was patchy.  All the skin on his body looked crusty / inflamed / itchy and boy was he scratching.  He was dropped off in the evening, and I didn't want to treat him late at night (our first treatment for a skin condition like that would be a blue dawn bath) so I could be sure he would dry off properly, so I gave him some bedding, hay, water, all the things he needed, and left him for the night.  He unfortunately didn't make it through the night.

Whether he passed from stress or another condition secondary to the skin infection, I don't know.  What I do know is that whatever he passed from, he may have had a considerably better chance at life, had people not spent all that time on home treatments (and yes, blue dawn is a home treatment... but might actually work, whereas anti-dandruff shampoo just reduces flakes but doesn't treat anything).  Maybe, maybe not.  Of course, the previous owner called a few days later asking how he was doing, and I had to break the sad news to her.  She wanted to know what he died from, and I told her, I didn't even have a chance to treat him or get him in to see a vet, had the treatment not worked.  It's unfortunate, but I only had a few hours with him.  She had a few months, and while it's not her fault that she didn't have the money to take him to the vet... my personal opinion is that she shouldn't have had him as a pet then.

Second person.  Also calls with sick guinea pigs, has a bonded pair and doesn't want to separate, but can't find anyplace to take them since the one is sick, and has something going on with it's back and it's eye.  For sure, this one was using anti-dandruff shampoo, as she brought that with.  She said it looked like it was getting better, but she wasn't sure, and of course... she had no money to take them to the vet.  So, we welcome in Rain and Star.  Rain is the one with the fungus, on her face and back.  I did take pics, shown below.  The pic of her back doesn't quite accurately show the extent, as I was holding her with one hand and taking the pic with the other, but it is about a quarter-sized patchy spot that looks like it was scratched (or something?) until it bled.

I covered her spots with blu-kote, which is an antiseptic and anti-fungal... Rain has now been treated twice, and for sure her back is improving, but her face will take more time.  Fungus has an easier time getting started on the face, as the area around the eyes / nose / mouth provide a nice wet environment in which it can take hold and thrive, so those areas will likely take longer to treat.

The people got these guinea pigs from a pet store.  Guinea pigs are what, $35ish each at the pet store?  So they could afford a new cage, two guinea pigs... all that... but not vet care.  Also, I should mention... neither guinea pig person brought in a cage or anything with their guinea pigs, except the second person did bring in the anti-dandruff shampoo.  Usually when people don't bring in a cage and whatnot, that's so they can sell the stuff and recoup their money.  That's fine, don't get me wrong... but again... they're getting the pet and the first sign of a problem, passing it off to someone else, with nothing but the animal itself.  No food to switch over, no cage, no nothing.  

If this upsets you (that I think you should be able to afford the vet if you get a pet), I'm sorry, but in both of these instances, these guinea pigs had relatively minor problems that would NOT have cost a fortune at the vet, but since these people couldn't (or wouldn't... who knows) afford a vet visit...the one unfortunately passed and the other pair is here.  Since they are young, I am sure they will find a great home as soon as Rain is better, but that's beside the point.  They never should have been here to begin with. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Waiting List for the Rescue...part 2

...when we call people on the waiting list, several things can happen:

1)  they don't respond (the email says they get x days to respond, after which we move on)
2)  they respond, saying they no longer need to bring in their chin / animal (sometimes they even choose to keep it)
3)  they respond, saying they do need to still bring in their animal, and they set an appointment

It's honestly a wild guess which one will be which.  Sometimes, everyone I call will bring in a chin, other times, everyone will have already found help elsewhere (which is fine as well). 

You might think this is relative to how much time they've spent on the waiting list, but that's honestly not often the case.  Sometimes the people who've waited months are still wanting to bring in their chins, and sometimes people who've been on the list a week have already found a different place for their chins.

I have one person on my waiting list who I haven't officially crossed off yet, but I messaged her back on 11/25 telling her she could bring her chin in, and last I heard, she was working on finding a good day.  Before I officially cross her off, I will message her again... but that's another thing.  It's been over a month since I messaged her.  That means, one of our cages has sat open for over a month, as I've waited for her to get back to me to bring in the chin.  I hate to be that kind of person to put a time limit, like "you have a week to bring in the chin..." but the difficulty is that when someone waits this long... I may have been able to bring in another chin and already get it adopted before she gets around to bringing hers in.

And that brings me to my next point... this seems to be one of those things that maybe people don't realize, because everyone always seems so surprised when I say we have a waiting list.... there is quite the need for small animal rescue.  My last two people who were paid help have commented that they never would have guessed that there was so much to do / going on with small animal rescue before they worked here.  And I assume people with these animals probably often think the exact same thing, that oh they have a guinea pig to give up, and probably not that many people have guinea pigs, so sure we can take it in.  Unfortunately... not always the case. 

A friend and I have come up with two scenarios (now, before you get mad, this is supposed to be funny, well, funny but true).  Either they think that I have so few animals here and there's so NOT a need for small animal rescue that I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs just waiting for people to call so I can jump on it and take in their animal... or they think I have so many volunteers and such a big organization that even if I can't help them, there's a foster who can, or someone else in the organization who can.  Obviously, neither one is true.  There's plenty of animals here, and there's a significant lack of volunteers, unfortunately.  My main two volunteers are people who do the volunteering at a distance (Colette, who helps sew the hammocks / fleece tubes / hanging houses, and Chris, who helps with the website and expos), rather than at the actual rescue.  And that's fine!  But that's also why I can't bend over backwards to help people, because there is just me, and the occasional paid help.

I did create that program where you can volunteer for a discount.  Due to how many people were always asking for discounts, I thought actually that that would be good and people would take advantage.  I mean... if you can spare a few hours of your time, it saves money!  So far, no one has taken advantage, though I still think it's worthwhile.

Last thing I want to touch on, as far as taking in rescues.  Most rescues, and by most, I mean by far the grand majority, require the person surrendering the animal to bring the animal to them.  I just had someone yesterday tell me that this one rescue didn't give them the time of day since they couldn't make the drive to the rescue.  While I'm sure that is disheartening and all... if the person can't drive the animal to them... how is the rescue supposed to help them?  I mean, I feel like that's a valid question.  Also... this same person was telling me about how they got this chinchilla to be a buddy for their other chin, but then went on to say that the new chin is aggressive, unfriendly, unsocial... you name it, not the greatest... which is why they want to surrender it.  The reason I mention this -- if it was an awesome pet, they would totally be keeping it.  So... often times, the animals we get aren't the most wonderful example of what a chinchilla is like...they take a lot of work, a lot of patience, and still may require an experienced home.  If someone wants to surrender a really friendly angora, I may just drive to you.  But for the average person that wants to drop off the chinchilla that will spend a year+ in rescue due to it's personality (read: attitude) and liveliness (read: squirmy-ness)... my personal opinion is that we are helping that person (who honestly, would probably only be able to find a home for that chinchilla by flat out lying about what it's like), and the least they can do is drive it to us.  Sorry if you disagree with that, but at the end of the day, it's my time and resources that are going into these animals, and at the end of the day, by the time many of the rescues get adopted, their adoption fee doesn't even come close to covering what's been spent on them.  That's fine, don't get me wrong... but I won't add in the additional expense of going and getting the animal.  Sorry not sorry.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Waiting List for the Rescue...part 1

Let me start this out by saying this -- we almost always have a waiting list to get animals in.  Let me repeat the important words: almost always

Here's what this means -- when you call and want to drop off your animal, I tell you about our waiting list and tell you that I can add you, if you'd like.  Many people never respond.  I assume that means, they want their animal gone NOW, not at some undetermined date in the future.

Here's the thing.  Small animal rescues are few and far between.  Yes, most humane societies and whatnot will take in the small animals... but they have considerably less room than the small animal rescues.  The one local humane society has a small animal room that is the size of my bathroom.  Not that most of you have ever seen the bathrooms here, but even my larger bathroom is like a normal sized shower / bathtub, and another space about that big (which holds sink / cabinet / toilet), and that's it.  So basically, you walk in, and have to completely turn around to exit.  Now, how many small animal cages, even stacked, can fit in that area?  The short answer: not many.  When those are filled... that's it. 

A lot of those places, the humane societies and whatnot... aren't no-kill.  Some are even contracted that they are required to take in any animal that is brought to them.  So... guess what that means if all their small animal cages are full, and you bring in another small animal?  Hopefully one gets adopted right away, because otherwise, they have to make room.

We are no-kill.  That's not to say that we've never had to put an animal down, and the same goes for other no-kill rescues.  No-kill means that a rescue does not put down an animal for the purpose of space.  Should an animal have severe medical problems, or something of that nature, they still can have their suffering humanely ended, and the shelter still be labeled as no-kill.  But the point is, if a no-kill shelter is full and all the animals there are healthy... they just can't take any more in.

...and that's often the problem here.  There's only so many cages, and even for people wanting to bring in cages, there's only so much room to keep putting cages before it becomes impossible to walk around and move around in the rescue.  I try my hardest to stop intakes before it gets to that point, as if I can't easily get around, that's not helpful to the animals and that's not helpful as far as adopters coming to look at them to adopt them out.

So usually how it goes is that we adopt out some animals, maybe even sell some cages to make room (and generate funds), clean the empty cages, and then call the people on the waiting list.  Sometimes it's a short wait, sometimes not.

Currently, we had a lot of our chins go home in the last month or two... a lot of the rescues.  This is good, as it's freed up a lot of our bigger cages, and a lot of our foster homes can use a new chin or two as well.  So for the last few days, we've been deep cleaning the big cages.  Sanding all the shelves, scrubbing down the entire cages, replacing the liners, whatever needs to be done, to get them ready for new chins.   We don't always go quite this gung ho to bring in new chins, but now that we have a few empty, this is the best time to do this when we have room to shuffle a few around.  In another few days, I will be calling people on the waiting list, making appointments to bring in chins. be continued...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Kids Touching Things

So... I'm sure this will sound nitpicky, but when I was a kid, before we'd even leave the house, and then again before we'd go into the store, my parents would remind me, "don't touch anything."

Parents today... most don't seem to care.

I have my work cart at the rescue, graciously donated by my mom a few years back.  I use the top usually for when people are signing adoption papers, and the second shelf has all these little red bins, like the type you see in a divided toolbox.  I have a much larger version (complete with the red bins -- about... 20ish of them?) of this:

So...for the purpose of making my hardware accessible to me when I need it, I don't have these bins in the actual toolbox, but rather, I have them lined up on the second shelf of my work cart.... where they are apparently highly-sought-after-playthings.

Now, before you think that I have one or two of each item in each bin, consider this.  One bin holds washers... I can at least get 20-30 in there, probably more if they're nicely lined up.  For something smaller like snap clips (the clips that hold the toys and hammocks to the cage, I can undoubtedly get over 200 in there.  And that's how they all are... the smaller the item, the more I can get in there, and I try to keep them relatively full, because when I need them, I rarely need one or two, I need several.

This is becoming a problem.

I have them on the cart for convenience -- when I need them, they are easy access to me, as the cart is always kept accessible, as we use it every day.  However... it seems, especially this fall / winter season, we've had an unusually large number of kids playing in the bins.  If I see this, I have told the kid something along the lines of, "oh honey, please don't touch that."  Trying to be nice, and you know, it's not my kid.  Usually the kid stops for a bit.... but in every instance I can think of, has gone right back.  Usually there's two parents / adults there, and what has happened several times... AFTER I have already told the kid to not touch, the kid resumes touching, and one of the parents points out out to the other parents, hey the kid is touching the stuff again.  (why they don't tell the kid no, but rather point out to the other parent, I don't know).  Here's the best part -- the parent they tell, in almost every instance has turned to them and said something like, "oh it's ok, I'll fix it before we leave."  Now, I probably don't need to tell you that they, in fact, do NOT fix it before they leave.

This is a problem for two reasons.  First, these are small pieces, and even for not-so-young children, could easily be a choking hazard.  Apparently this isn't a concern for parents, nowadays.  Second... when they leave, I have to re-sort all the parts!  The last time this happened, they were so messed up, I literally had to dump out all the bins and re-sort them all.  This took about an hour or so for me to individually sort all those little parts into their bins.  This is time I should not have to spend!

See, when I was growing up, and going somewhere with my parents, before we'd even leave the house, my parents would remind me, "now, don't touch anything."  Then, as we'd be walking into the store, they'd again remind me, "remember, don't touch anything."  Apparently this isn't a thing anymore!  But it made sense, because if I didn't touch anything, I couldn't touch anything that would potentially hurt me or mess stuff up for anyone else to have to fix or clean up.  Nowadays, it seems, the kids touch whatever they want, and the parents let them, to keep them occupied.  Now, I don't have kids, so I know a lot of people say, oh it would be different if I did.  No, it wouldn't!  If I was at someone's house and my kid decided to play with their obviously-not-toys and mess them up, I would tell the kid to knock it off!  Not only do I find it disrespectful that the kid isn't listening to me, you know, an adult asking them to not do something, but I also find it disrespectful that the parents don't seem to care what I said, cause they let their kids do the exact opposite!  That's just not right.  I shouldn't have to "hide" my needed tools, to the inconvenience of myself, because people can't seem to control their kids.  I find this maddening.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

People Trying to Steal -- REALLY?!?

So... this was from the last expo we had... we were at the AAE, and it was a bit dead.  Me and Jim are standing at the booth and these two girls walk up, late teens / early 20's.  They're looking at the herbs and talking, and occasionally looking up at us.

Not sure what Jim saw, but he says to me, "I bet they're going to try to walk off with those."  I didn't notice anything, but sure as shit, we turned away for a second and they walked across the aisle.

Still trying to give the benefit of the doubt, I said to Jim, "oh maybe something caught their eye..."... and then they HIGHTAILED it around the corner.  Yeah, no.

I said, loud as shit, "EXCUSE ME!!" and quite a few people, including the two girls, turned around.  "Oh, we need to pay here?"

They did buy the items, a whopping $8.25 of herbs.  But I mean... clearly trying to steal from a rescue.  Not that it's never happened before... but people are sometimes shits.  That is all.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Important of Correct Paypal Addresses

So... I know I've talked before about how communication is important... and it sure is... but also... having the correct paypal address is important.  This happens rarely, so this isn't something that the average person needs to be concerned about, but when you set up your paypal account, you are prompted to enter an address.  You then have the option to verify that address (how that's done, I don't recall... I've had my paypal forever).  Anyway, you do not need to verify the address.

However... when you buy something through paypal, I receive the address you input (which you can select / change when purchasing your item) as the address to ship the items to.  Should your address have a problem, when I go to ship to it, paypal will show that and will prompt me to edit the address.

Here's the problem -- I don't know what any of your actual addresses are.

So... should the address be wrong, but not obviously wrong (for example, you put 123 Main Street, and it's really 132 Main Street)... I will not know, and you may not receive your package.  Should you reach out and tell me you never received the package, I will likely confirm your address and when we see it's incorrect, go from there.

But then, some addresses are blatantly wrong, and those are the ones paypal catches.  For example, I had one address from a recent order, where the street address (123 Main) was something like 35235.  That's it, just number.  I didn't notice this immediately, but then when I went to pack up the order, I did, and paypal prompted me to edit the address -- I dunno how to correct -- so I reached out to the person.  In that instance, I just replied to the email that paypal sends me, which is always titled Notification of Payment Received, which includes the order.  When you reply to an email like that, it replies to the buyer.  I kept it short and sweet and basically just said, you know, could you please send me your correct address as it's incorrect in paypal.

Few days go by, no reply.  Well, I figure, with an email titled like that, maybe it went to spam or something, so I copy and paste the email into a new email and title it something along the lines of, Question about NWI Chins order.  Email a bit longer version explaining the address issue, explain I have emailed previously and not received a response, and because this is the second email at this point, I explain that if I haven't revived a response by the end of the day on the 19th, I will refund the order.  Why?  Because I can't ship it without the correct address or without someone contacting me to inform me of the correct address.

So see, not only is it important to keep your paypal address correct and up to date... this again goes back to... communication is important.  If this person does happen to reach out to me and tell me their correct address, I will happily go in there and update their address and mail their package out (which is already packed up and just awaiting that address).  That is all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Some people think they're so clever...

So... I would post screenshots, but... no, you know what?  I'll post screenshots.  Hold up on those.

I save texts.  If we're having a conversation and you're set to come over on Monday and we set the time at 1 pm (this is not a post about being on time, but just for example), I will wait until you show up to delete those texts.  Now, I do that MAINLY because I want to be sure I have your number and I can reach you, to reach out, should you not show up, or should I need to reach you last minute like to cancel or reschedule or something.  But... it also shows me when you're not being completely honest. 

Case in point...

Wrong number, eh?  Liar, liar, pants on fire.  I took the screenshots, blurred out the emails and numbers, and deleted the text.  If they don't want to adopt, fine.  But don't try to lie and say, oh wrong number... when it's clearly not.  I could have fun with them and send screenshots... but it wouldn't do any good.  If they've decided not to adopt, they've decided not to adopt.  But how stupid... just say so.  That is all. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Persistent... vs. Annoying

So, this may be a matter of opinion, and I totally understand that, but I want to share with you an example, as it's a good example of the difference between being persistent and showing interest, and turning into what an annoying pest.

Let me begin.

I posted one of our young guinea pigs up for adoption, fully aware that her color (the silver agouti) is a bit unusual and not often seen in rescue.  Almost immediately, someone contacted me, interested, that night.  I sent her the adoption form and told her I would need a deposit to hold and so on.  She has emailed back in appropriate time frames and everything, and at this point, she has sent me an adoption form (which I now need to look at) and sent me the email that I should send the invoice to.  This is reasonable.

On the other hand... I was at the expo the following day, and the phone rang.  First time, no message left.  Two minutes later, rings again, same number, they leave a message.  I'm at the expo, and I can't hear the phone all that well (not even at the expo, just normally), so I figure I will listen to it later.  So then the person texts me.  She explains in the text that she has emailed twice, and called.  I go to look and see how long ago the emails were, as I'm thinking, ok maybe I missed them from a few days ago or something.  She had sent both emails within the last 30 minutes.

Anyway.  In the texts, I tell her, there's someone else ahead of her interested in the guinea pig.  She tells me she would start driving here now if she thought that would help (it wouldn't... we're only first come first served if I don't already have someone in the process of adopting) and she tells me she's very upset that she's going to miss the guinea pig, she's just sick about it.  I tell her, I will let her know what happens with the first person interested, and I will get back to her.  She continues texting me, and eventually asks how long they have (I said somewhere they have a deadline).  Now, stupid me, I told her, but I should have told her it's none of her business, but I told her, they had until the end of the next day, or a bit more within reason if they are making an effort.  She has called two more times today and texted multiple times, asking, "did they follow through???"  Honestly, I am ignoring it all at this point.  No feeding the troll.  HAVE SOME PATIENCE, PEOPLE.  This is annoying.

I think, a lot of this may stem from the fact that we can get everything NOW.  You want food?  They can deliver it.  You want a furnace filter?  Order it on Amazon Prime and it can show up within 2 days.  That's fine, but... and this may come as a surprise to some people... I have a lot of animals up for adoption, which means that whoever I'm talking to is NOT the only person I'm talking to, and, as I am one person, that means someone has to have a modicum of goddamn patience and WAIT.

People like the one that won't leave me alone about the guinea pig... should the first home fall through, her pestering me to death makes it so that I would not even want to message her.  Maybe you find that mean of me, but that's just how I feel.  Irritating me to death isn't endearing for you. 

Now, this is a bit of an extreme (albeit true) example, but here's more what I feel is what I would consider persistent.  Maybe you sent an email, or a facebook message, or whatnot, and you don't hear back... within a day or two, not an hour (important to note.. also, still have other customers, no matter how you contact me)... then by all means, give me a call or send a text.  But contacting me on every method possible within 30 minutes just cause I haven't responded?  Little much, sorry...

Clearly Not Reading Posts -- Craiglist Style

So, I opened up my inbox today, and I had multiple posts about many of my craigslist ads for the chins.  Not necessarily a bad thing and mostly spaced a bit out, so it didn't make me think it was the same person.


When I opened them, they all read:

"Hey I saw your post and was wondering if he came with the cage and everything"

Had this been to one post, I can sometimes understand, but this was for 14 posts, one of them being my sale post that doesn't even list a specific chinchilla.  Here's the funny thing.  Out of all the posts they inquired about, two of the posts were for chins that CAN come with their cages / accessories... the rest just specify (as all my ads do), something along the lines of, this chinchilla comes with 2 pounds of food, a goodie bag, and a printed out version of our care packet.  Myself, personally, I would read that and assume, that's ALL the chin comes with (as in, they're not also throwing in a cage and just not mentioning it).

In case you're curious... I did not respond to any of these messages.  Clearly, they not only DIDN'T READ to see what it says the chin doesn't come with, but I'm POSITIVE they didn't read any of the chin descriptions either.  I'm not so dying to have chins leave as to waste my time on someone like this.