site map/ about us, copyright/ pet chin resources (clubs, books, all star sites)/ critical points


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The Webmasters

*Our Story
*The Webmasters' Credentials, or Background
*Judging the Quality of Internet Care Information
*Copyright Notice & Sharing Policy
*ChinCare's Principle
*Site Disclaimer

Link-to-site logos: 1, 2 and thumbnails: 1, 2. Save and link to www.chincare.com


OUR STORY

Like many people, the ChinCare webmasters grew up with animals: dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, mice, chameleons, fish, horses, chickens, pigs and a turtle, bearded dragon, tarantula, ball python, racoon and squirrel. In 1997, right after we began dating, we got our first chinchilla on an impulse buy from a pet store. We were told that it was a boy, so we bought "him" a buddy... and a couple years later something that looked like a mouse was scurrying about the cage! YIKES! That was Hugo, the first chin born to us. After that surprise birth we had two more litters born to Hugo and his mate Deedlit while trying to get to the point where we could have all male and all female cage pairings.


We weren't what you would call "responsible breeders" (we wish we'd known then about adopting from rescue first), we didn't know much about chinchilla genetics and we didn't have our chins' medical and temperament histories. That's BAD. We learned our lessons, the "what not to do's," in this and other areas the hard way. So we decided to make it our mission to do research and compile a website that would serve as a hub, a directory, to all the online chinchilla care information so that others would be able to start out on the RIGHT track as prepared, knowledgeable, conscientious chinparents. That's how ChinCare came about, in January of 2002, it mainly just linked to and listed the information available on other pet chinchilla care sites; there weren't that many back then. Eventually, as we worked with more chinchillas and acquired more knowledge and experience, we began writing articles of our own.


After purchasing that first chinchilla in early 1997, our chinfamily grew as we became smitten with these charming, intelligent creatures. We adopted from pet chinchilla or "hobby" breeders, ranchers, and one reputable pet store that occasionally got a chin in who had a discharging eye, heavy scarring from fight wounds or a difficult temperament. In 2000 we began taking in only chins in need: abuse and neglect cases, rescue, rehomed, special needs and senior chins, and during the peak years of our rescue work, from 2002-9, our rescue maintained between 30-40 chins.


We were very fortunate during 2002-9 to have the opportunity to do a lot of intensive observation and interaction with the hundreds of chinchillas that we rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed. The webmaster was frequently able to telecommute during those years and the webmistress, who was battling GI disease, was at home full time: networking and advising in the pet chinchilla community, strategizing and organizing rescue operations, studying extensively both online and from their reference library, and producing articles for publication or use by rescue organizations, see Credentials.


In 2003 we began networking internationally with chinchilla rescue services to encourage communication, promote proper education and to better assist chinchillas in crisis situations. In 2004 we initiated the Pet Homes For Ranchies (or PHFR) Midwest Project that worked cooperatively with ranchers to save (pelting is no longer profitable in the U.S.) one hundred at-risk ranch chinchillas and find them homes within the pet community. PHFR projects continued for several years.


Our rescue work drew to a close in 2010, but we plan to continue to host our website and offer advice to chinparents, occasionally assist rescues in our area, and maintain our ties within the international chinchilla rescue community.


Besides caring for our chinfamily, the ChinCare webmasters also make time for recreational interests: attending artistic and church events, reading, writing, biking, swimming, landscaping, hiking, paintball, etc. Our combined university education has culminated in the following degrees: English Language and Literature for Secondary Education, Human Resources Management, Business, and Computer Science.






THE WEBMASTERS' CREDENTIALS, OR BACKGROUND

The content written by the webmasters for ChinCare derives from the following knowledge and experience:

Intensive observation and interaction while working with literally hundreds of chinchillas through:
Our chinfamily- begun in 1997, at its peak
our rescue maintained between 30-40 chins from 2002-9
Our rescue work- from 2000-10, includes interaction with chinchillas from all backgrounds: pet chinchilla or "hobby" breeder, pet store, rescue, rehomed and those with handicaps, special needs or that have been neglected, abused, etc.
Pet Homes For Ranchies- saving ranch chinchillas since 2004, also see Achievement Reports on Matilde's Mission (note: we resigned our position with the charity in 2010)


Extensive online research, data mining and the study of our reference library which includes dozens of veterinary, scholarly and rancher-authored books, pamphlets and articles
(.doc, and our purchase of rancher-authored books did not contribute to the continuation of pelting), plus the hand-reviewing of all English language pet chinchilla care sites (over 700 as of 2008) on the web for the educational purposes of this site.


Ongoing international communications with scientific researchers, published authors, pet chinchilla owners, breeders, rescue workers and ranchers, and of course the indispensible benefit of working closely with our exotics specialist vet.



Content from ChinCare has been translated into at least three foreign languages: Finnish, German and Spanish. In 2008 we wrote an article on chinchilla safety for Critters USA magazine, "Danger Defused." Over the years we have contributed a prolific amount of advice and articles to rescue and other organizations (like HSUS' Animal Sheltering magazine, May-June 2009 issue and a disaster response sheet for Animal Crisis Team).


We don't have scientific or veterinary qualifications, which is why we thoroughly research our topics and credit sources appropriately. We have dedicated a large part of our lives to learning about, understanding and interacting with chinchillas because we love them, but we are not infallible and all-knowing, we're just devoted chinparents helping other chinparents for the benefit of all chinchillas.



Besides establishing
ChinCare to serve as an educational resource for the pet chinchilla community, the webmasters have initiated other projects to promote education and positive activism, including:

Have maintained Urgent Alerts for other animals and pets and the Confronting Cruelty page, the latter of which includes a pet store outreach program. Have continued to address pet chinchilla neglect, abuse, overpopulation and homelessness through the Rescue & Rehoming Pages.

Have assisted in a research and advisory capacity for the lawful prosecution of several chinchilla hoarding/ abuse cases

Continue to provide small animal shelters with chinchilla care information and adoption tools (contracts, surrender forms, charging an adoption fee)

Ongoing participation in chinchilla railroad projects and donation of supplies, educational materials and personal assistance to chinchilla rescue workers, including paying for website operation costs.

Performed IT work for and funded the first year of one educational chinchilla forum and briefly managed another. Submitted an efficiency report to a major pet forum for ethical and administrative improvements.

Have helped prominent chinchilla suppliers establish their business and client bases to make quality goods more commonly available to the pet chinchilla community

Obtained reproduction permission for and submitted several informative articles to a pet chinchilla magazine

Contributions made in the initiative to establish national chinchilla breeder standards in New Zealand

Initiated projects that were assumed by "The Matilde Mission: Pet Homes For Ranch Chinchillas, Inc.," a 501(c)3 registered charity that the ChinCare webmasters co-founded in November, 2005:

*Change by Choice*
A call to action for those who value chinchillas and want to assist the on-going transition in the U.S. from exploiting chinchillas for their fur to protecting them as beloved pets.

*Pet Homes For Ranchies*
The 2004 Pet Homes For Ranchies (or PHFR) Midwest Project placed one hundred at-risk ranch chinchillas (pelting is no longer profitable in the U.S.) within the pet community between 10/2004 and 6/2005, inspiring the creation of Matilde's Mission.

*IPCR, International Placement Coordinators for Chinchilla Rescue and Re-Homing*
From 2003-06 IPCR coordinators The Dust Bath and ChinCare networked extensively within the international chinchilla rescue community, assisting in scores of cases (in Europe and nearly all 50 U.S. states) that involved everything from routine rehomings to emergency rescue assistance. The work of IPCR was picked up and expanded upon by Matilde's Mission's International Chinchilla Rescue Network (ICRN), which ran from 2006-2010.






JUDGING THE QUALITY OF INTERNET CARE INFORMATION

The sole objective of this article is to encourage chinparents to THINK CRITICALLY and ASK QUESTIONS of their information source. We too have been confused and misled in the past by some people's ignorance and arrogance in online advising, and we'd like to help others avoid some of the trouble and grief that we've been put through. This is not an attempt on our part to somehow disqualify advice given elsewhere and to imply that only our advice is true and relevant, we invite the same honest scrutiny that we encourage chinparents to apply elsewhere. We also expect that people can and will think and make up their minds for themselves, that's the way it should be. Please see ChinCare's Principle and read the conclusion after these points:


This statement epitomizes one of the biggest problems with getting chinchilla care advice online: "Typically, the people who give the most online advice are not the same people who spend hours every day working with high-strung, oversensitive or troubled chins, and that's why these chins are so often overlooked, misunderstood or dismissed as the exception."


Most online advice comes from pet chinchilla breeders, and they typically cite their years of experience as proof of comprehensive expertise. But unless a pet breeder also does a substantial amount of rescue work, then their experience is limited to understanding the type of chins they breed: temperamentally mellow (breeding for temperament should be a top priority), hand-raised pet bred or docile ranch chins.


Reputable pet breeders don't get their breeding chinchillas from pet stores, rescue or rehoming (this is a good thing!), but the public that they are advising DOES, and those chins may be high-strung, oversensitive or troubled, thereby representing the "real" more than the "ideal" pet chinchilla-owning experience. When pet owners or breeders generalize based on their more ideal experiences with easy-going, well-adjusted, and therefore more adaptive and resilient chins, they often fail to realize that what holds true for them, what works for them isn't necessarily applicable in every situation, for all pet owners.


This is why some of the most widespread advice in the pet community is also some of the most problematic in practical application. For instance, being hands-off with a new chinchilla or using the Side by Side Cages introduction method (things that often don't pose a problem with mellow, easy-going, well-socialized chins) WILL pose a problem with chins that are high-strung, oversensitive or that come from a troubled background. This is another reason why pet breeders should also do rescue work (and indeed some do), because besides acting as a "checks and balances" against overpopulation, it gives them a more well-rounded perspective from which to advise.


Chinchillas are truly unique as individuals, they vary as much as people do, and generalizations should err on the side of caution and usually need to be framed by qualifying language. This is not a criticism of pet breeders, the problem with generalizing from unrepresentative experience is a valid point that applies to everyone including rescuers such as ourselves, but the voice and experience of rescuers, at least in the U.S. pet chinchilla community, is rarely heard.


We started out adopting chins from pet breeders, which often have a positive social disposition toward people as a result of having been hand-raised by them, but the bulk of our experience has been with chinchillas from pet stores, ranches, rescue and rehoming, i.e., chins that are sometimes very high-strung, troubled in their ability to relate to people and other chins, or suffering from stress-related health and behavioral problems. We have to keep the potential limitations of our experience in perspective and temper our advice accordingly.




Quantity of experience does not guarantee perfect and complete knowledge, not ours, not anyone's. Experience must be defined in order to be useful, because ALL anecdotal advice is inherently LIMITED to a particular set of circumstances and a SUBJECTIVE point of view. For instance, some novices are more knowledgeable in their subject area than those with years of experience that is largely outdated, out of touch, and disconnected from scientific or veterinary advancement. Also, it should not be assumed that expertise in one topic is proof of knowledge of the subject as a whole.


To help determine the usefulness or value of experience-based advice:

1) What type?
...What specific type of experience is the advice rooted in? For instance, experience dealing with chinchillas in a ranch (business) environment where they're treated like livestock is not the same as experience that involves constant interaction with chinchillas from various backgrounds, where their social habits and how they relate to people is regularly observed.


2) How many?
...How many of the case type have they dealt with? Are they generalizing from a small or unrepresentative (or even inappropriate) population sample? For example, when ONE chin (especially one chin with special circumstances) has an adverse reaction to a medication, that doesn't mean that all chinchillas necessarily will and that everyone should thus be warned not to use that medication.


3) For how long?
...For how long have they dealt with the type of case they're advising on? For example, are they making conclusive statements about malocclusion based on a brief encounter with a chin in the final stage, or have they treated several cases of varying severity for a number of years?




Most chinparents are unaware of the "politics" of the U.S. pet chinchilla community when they first get involved online. They assume that everyone feels the same way about chins that they do, that everyone else is putting the chins first and that the focus of the pet community is always on the chins' welfare and happiness, not human egos or rewards.


Regretably, this is not always so. Almost all pet chinchilla breeders belong to the U.S. pelter clubs (ECBC and MCBA were formed by ranchers to support the fur industry, and those clubs are for breeders) where they compete for status and awards; pet breeder actually comprise the majority in those clubs. They learn from ranchers and some (not all) emulate them in treating their chinchillas more like livestock than pets, which consequently leads to their giving very biased input through the pet community's clubs and forums, which are all owned or administrated by pet breeders.


We have nothing against responsible pet chinchilla breeders and their choices are absolutely their prerogative regardless of whether we agree or disagree with it, HOWEVER, pet chinchillas truly NEED better treatment than what fur farms offered: confinement in a tiny cage with no exercise, environmental stimulation, companionship, interaction, etc. More information on this subject is detailed on Matilde's Mission's Change by Choice, where we advocate that pet chinchillas be given the consideration and treatment that they are entitled to as PETS.




When new chinparents complain about receiving inconsistent or conflicting information, it is often because they've consulted forums or beginner's sites where "newbies" are every bit as vocal as those with tenure; this also unwittingly contributes to the perpetuation of myths and misinformation, see: Misinformation and Care Myths Index. Sometimes erroneous "common knowledge" has been repeated so often that by sheer repetition alone it's become mistaken for fact (wet bath, the MF Chapman hoax, etc.). Other advice is downright dangerous but because the person giving it hasn't directly met with disaster, they casually recommend it, just as if their luck holds some magic guarantee for others (wheels with spokes, unsafe mesh width, etc.).


There is also an inclination by some in the pet chinchilla community to want all information presented in an overly simplistic, "always do this" or "never do that" fashion and when advice from one source seems to lean toward one extreme more than the other, it may appear to be in conflict with other advice when in fact the truth lies somewhere in the middle, where the big picture is more complicated than that. For example, although excessive amounts of protein can be harmful to chinchillas (think unhealthy treats like nuts and seeds), serving alfalfa hay occasionally is beneficial even though it is has a high protein content.


Alfalfa hay is especially good for pregnant/ nursing or poorly chins (underweight, malnourished, ailing) who need the extra protein, and it contains calcium (helps prevent malocclusion caused by calcium deficiency) in addition to many other very beneficial nutrients. The complicated bit for the average chinparent is to consider what their chin eats on the whole, calling to mind his complete diet rather than over-analyzing the parts. As long as the chin's diet is high in fiber and low in protein overall (as their diet should be), then serving alfalfa hay occasionally IS definitely adviseable.


There are some pet owners, breeders and rescuers with years of experience dealing with substantial numbers of chinchillas from diverse backgrounds, who have accumulated libraries of chinchilla-related books, work closely with their exotics specialist vet and spent time researching scientific and scholarly articles online, and these are the people to consult because they have put in the time required to really know their subject, and to distinguish myth from fact. Some of these more authoritative and reliable resources are listed in All*Star*Sites.


That said, we are not condoning cliquish elitism and bullying, which is very prevalent on some forums, that obstructs the learning process for everyone. We believe that those "in the know" owe it to beginners to extend patience and understanding so that ultimately the chinchillas on the receiving end will reap the benefits.




Layman experience (ranchers, pet owners, rescuers, breeders, etc.) is still no substitute, especially in health-related matters, for the scientifically-trained and professionally qualified insight of an exotics specialist vet. Veterinary expertise with chinchillas and exotics in general has increased exponentially as their popularity as pets has grown, vet consultation should be regarded as indispensable to the responsible chinparent.




Online forums are wonderful for support and comparative learning but it is not at all uncommon for them to dispense outdated or very erroneous information, albeit from people who are usually well-intentioned, see article. And then there are those who assume themselves to be above indicating and crediting their sources and, in the absence of a ready supply of scientific data on chinchillas, will take other animals' scientific data and tack it onto chins, on no other authority than their own arrogant presumption.




CONCLUSION
While there may not be an abundance of scientific research-validated chinchilla information available there nonetheless is good and bad information, myths and facts. For instance, it is a fact that safety is not optional. Our pets trust and depend on us to make wise decisions that will directly affect their welfare, therefore anything unsafe- whether it is unsafe plastic cage accessories or unsafe introduction methods- should never be put to use, regardless of whether the pet store is selling cheap plastic "for chinchillas" or whether a pet breeder is pushing their "Smooshing cages."


Chinparents need to actively practice critical thinking at all times because it is THEIR responsibility alone to judge the quality of internet care information, and this can only be accomplished by asking questions and not taking for granted that just because something is put online, repeated online, or stated by someone with "experience" that it is necessarily reputable fact. Anyone who holds themselves above reasonable questioning is not worth trusting. And EVERY online information resource, whether it is a personal website, forum, etc., should put their credentials and sources right out there for people to see so that chinparents know what they're getting and exactly where it's coming from: personal observation and experience, secondhand advice, veterinary advice or scientific research, etc.


That said, we also wish the information that we provide on our sites to be viewed in perspective: We don't presume to "know it all," and we don't have scientific or veterinary qualifications. We're simply devoted chinparents sharing the extent of our knowledge gained from years of research and experience so that we can help other chinparents to be the best they can be for their chins. We always welcome questions or concerns regarding the content of our sites.






CHINCARE.COM COPYRIGHT NOTICE & SHARING POLICY

All content material (text, images, documents of any file type) contained in chincare.com that is not credited otherwise (some images may be credited via hyperlink), originates with and is the sole property of the chincare.com webmasters. This material is protected under United States Copyright Law and the international treaties constituting International Copyright Law.


We are more than happy to share our information with others in the pet chinchilla community and we regularly do so, however, crediting sources is important: just because something can be stolen does not make it "free." We put a lot of hard work into this site, it comes from our heart and personal experience as well as from years and literally thousands of hours spent researching, emailing, and communicating with veterinarians, scientific researchers and others in the pet chinchilla community. We created this site because we genuinely care about chinparents and their chins, and all we ask for in return is to be treated with the same basic honesty and respect that we demonstrate when we credit the sources we use.


People who have scant regard for those who originated the material they wish to steal and present as their own (that's how it looks when a source is not credited) will ultimately be doing a great disservice to EVERYONE as information of all kinds proliferates through the ease and speed of electronic mediums. Crediting sources is not about elitism or self-importance, it's fundamental to academic honesty and it also makes the source accountable for their information once it becomes widespread.


SHARING POLICY: Any content material (text, images, documents of any file type) originating with chincare.com may be presented elsewhere on the condition that a notation (with or without linking) is made that credits authorship. The material must be used in its complete, unaltered form and presented in the same context, with the same intent, as the original material on chincare.com. Regarding material that is credited to a source of origin other than the chincare.com webmaster's, please abide by internet copyright laws and credit authorship appropriately.






CHINCARE'S PRINCIPLE

ChinCare is an educational website that was created for the edification of the pet chinchilla community. It was founded on the principle that the pet chinchilla community deserves to have ALL the available pet chinchilla care information presented to them so that they can make informed decisions for themselves that are in the best interests of their chinchillas. We would rather that people make decisions for themselves after actively, critically and thoroughly analyzing the care information available to them so that in the end, their chins get the absolute best. We believe that this should always be the ultimate goal: to ensure the health, happiness and safety of our pet chinchillas, to put their best interests FIRST.


Thus, while we won't knowingly link to site articles whose information is dangerous or false, we do link to sites and site articles that doesn't always seem to jibe with our point of view. We also feature information from (when it does not profit pelting and the fur industry, because supporting completely unnecessary killing does NOT benefit our pets) older books authored by pelters and pet chinchilla informative sites regardless of that site owner's choice of club affiliations or attitude toward pelting. And, when we link to stores under Supplier Sites, we expect our site users to assume responsibility for shopping carefully.


We believe that education is the key to ensuring competent, responsible chinchilla care and preventing neglect, abuse and homelessness. That is why we have gathered and presented as much information as possible- including scientific and veterinary information- so that devoted chinparents can research topics and find what they need to know via articles, documents, websites, magazines, reference libraries, online communities, books, etc. As an educational site, we encourage the sharing of information per our Copyright Notice.






SITE DISCLAIMER

Use of chincare.com binds the user to our current Copyright Notice and Site Disclaimer. References to the webmasters for the aforementioned sites and the use of "we," "us," or "our" in this article refers to the persons whose emails are contained in ChinCare's "About Us" section.


Although every effort has been made to verify the site content and material (text, images, documents of any file type) of chincare.com, for legal reasons it must be clearly stated that ultimately the site content and material is the express opinion of the cited authors or the chincare.com webmasters and there is no liability whatsoever assumed by them nor any guarantee offered to those who choose to use the site content and material of the aforementioned sites. There is also no suggestion, advice or recommendation on chincare.com that is intended to serve as or substitute for the expert diagnosis and treatment of an exotics specialist vet.


By providing links to external sites, the webmasters for chincare.com claim no association with, endorsement or guarantee of the information, products or opinions of those sites, AND vice versa. It is our site readers' responsibility to thoroughly research and ask questions before accepting or acting on the information, products or opinions of the external sites listed on chincare.com.