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


make a difference: fur-free pledge, fur-free society/ confronting cruelty/ matildesmission.org

Rescue & Rehoming Pages (site map lists page contents). Let's Home Those In NEED Before We Breed,
The Rescue Report, Setting Standards for Responsible Breeding, Ownership, Neutering


*Introduction To This Page
*Links to Rescue/ Rehoming Stories
*Counting The Rescues
*Near Death Experience
*Dorm Room Neglect
*Dire Consequences of Irresponsible Breeding
*Thirty Inbred Chinchillas
*FTGH Fiasco
*Chinchillas Left Out With Trash
*Abandoned Outside in Summertime
*Death Trap Cages
*Crippled Kit
*Neglect Survivors
*Helping To Turn Things Around
*Spiffy's Frat House Nightmare
*The Many Costs of Rescue Work
*Warning to Rescuers About People Wanting "Cheap Breeding Chins"




INTRODUCTION TO THIS PAGE

"Behind every rescue is a complex weave of events, a cast of willful human characters, and a group of animals who are dependent upon the mercy of others or some lucky turn to set them free..." ref- farmsanctuary.org


This page is connected with Homing Those In Need. The purpose of this Report is not to be sensationalistic or shocking, this is an earnest attempt to convey the growing alarm in the chinchilla rescue community at the recent dramatic rise in the number of tragedies such as these. We want to make the public and pet chinchilla owners and breeders aware that good homes are not that easy to come by and
everyone can choose to do something now to curb chinchilla neglect, abuse and homelessness!


The following case stories, mostly from U.S. chinchilla rescue workers and dating from 2004 to the present, are real-life experiences that were brought to our attention as a result of our extensive networking to assist pet chinchillas in need. We were personally involved with some of these cases.


More articles and photos will be added to this page from time to time. All stories are reviewed and approved for posting by those from whom they originate. Some of the identifying names or states in the articles below have either been changed or omitted because they're irrelevant to the purpose of this Report, and we won't respond to curiosity inquiries about these articles.






LINKS TO RESCUE/ REHOMING STORIES
A bittersweet mix...

Chinchilla Chat Line/ ChinchillaRescue.org/ ForCHINate Chins Chinchilla Rescue
Matilde's Mission's "2006 Achievement Report"/ Monty's Place Chinchilla Rescue & Refuge
New Zealand Chinchilla Rescue's "Rescue Diaries"/ R&J Rescue Chinchilla/ Second Chance Chins
The Dust Bath/ Velvet Chinchilla's story about the realities of chinchilla breeding and rescue






COUNTING THE RESCUES

The following are the number of pet chinchillas in need of rescue that came to our attention through the rescue network we work with over the course of just one month, July of 2006. This is just our count, one among many that demonstrates the rising number of homeless cases across the U.S:


For July, 2006:
5 on 7/6
20 on 7/7
7 on 7/9
7 on 7/15
18 on 7/16
30 on 7/17

5 on 7/19
14 on 7/26
3 on 7/29

(Total= 109)
From one rescue in Oregon: "January 2006 is when I officially opened my doors to chinchilla rescues. From January to May of 2006 (only 5 months) I have been asked to take in 15 chinchillas, this includes two 1 week old kits and the 6 kits from the pregnant female who gave birth to 7 that I am caring for now."






NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

"This is the picture of a full-grown chinchilla, not a kit. She was the second chinchilla purchased by a parent for their young pre-teen child. The first had been killed when the child sat on it, and this chinchilla was improperly fed, when she was fed; consequently she took to severe fur biting.


"She was only given medical attention when taken to a veterinary emergency room with calcium deficiency seizures, where she later lapsed into a coma. The following morning, at the emergency room, she was about to be euthanized when another vet intervened and she was rushed to an exotics specialist. Her coma lasted 24 hours in all, it was only through the exhaustive efforts of the exotics specialist vet that she eventually woke up, was given follow-up care and found a permament, loving home with a chinchilla rescue worker."






DORM ROOM NEGLECT, PERMITS AND HEAT-INDUCED BRAIN DAMAGE

"College kids are getting chinchillas for company in their dorm rooms, then when school is over and they graduate or find a job, they want to get rid of it. They also leave their chinchillas for extended periods of time shut up in their cages without exercise, alone, or passed around to roommates and other dorm members to care for while they take visits home, go on spring break, etc. Many people are mistaken about the longevity of chinchillas, they think they'll only live as long as hamsters or guinea pigs, and they don't comprehend that chinchillas require regular attention, can't take heat, etc. I have placed over 150 chinchillas since October and 99% of them were from college students.



"Our state requires permits for exotic animals as pets, and half the people who own chins don't have a permit for them. I have the state, I did put notice on my own space and other blog sites. It's a shame we don't have a universal newsletter to encourage others to do the same. I have nine chins that are behavior problems as a result of being shuttled around from home to home, one was kept in a pen with a 3 foot lizard that was so big it had to be walked on a leash, another person had three chins in a room with illegal exotic birds and kept the room temp at 80 degrees. The chins had bird feces all over them and their pens, I swear they have brain damage from the heat.



"Last but not least, I have one that was bred from her first heat, bred while still nursing, just for the babies to sell, and my rehabiliation of her consists of strict diet with suppplements as her body systems are so taxed, she is not expected to live too long becaus eof 6 years of malnourshment. It seems like it's an up hill battle, and I do spend hours going to all kind of blog sites puting in info about chins, their care and life span. When you here from others, please ask them to do the same. Just a half hour a week putting notes on blog sites will surely help."







THE DIRE CONSEQUENCES OF IRRESPONSIBLE BREEDING


"We adopted two chins, both female, my mother-in-law wanted one as well, from a person who did breeding in addition to rescue and rehoming. My husband and I had to sign an adoption contract promising not to breed the animals we adopted, but when we made this clear upon handing over the one chin to my mother-in-law, she had a fit and said she'd do whatever she darned well pleased.


"Well, I don't know what we were thinking, I guess we should have just anticipated the worst, because my MIL had two male chins and she just put the female right into the cage with them. Of course the males fought, my MIL didn't do a bit of reading up on chins after getting some crummy, mostly incorrect book at a pet store after the purchase of her first chins, which I have to say were actually from a reputable breeder but they did NOT have pedigrees and so even her male chins should never have been bred. She did get a second cage and separated the males, who had been bonded, putting the male who wasn't with the female in a small cage half the size of the Martin's Townhouse he had been in, and he sulked there, alone.


"In time, the female became pregnant and gave birth to a boy and a girl. The family stayed together, played together and were just precious. When it came time to find homes for the kits, because she didn't want to keep all five chins, my mother-in-law simply "gave" the female kit to a friend who'd expressed interest in it because it was "cute." This lady didn't know squat about chins and had no air conditioning in her apartment, we later learned. The female kit died that summer as soon as the temperatures rose, she was young, alone, scared and then literally baked to death. When my mother-in-law told us about this as if it was some unfortunate accident that just couldn't be helped, as if it was nobody's fault, I wanted to burn HER at the stake. Later I couldn't stop crying at such an awful, totally preventable fate."






THIRTY INBRED CHINCHILLAS IN THREE CAGES


"A guy started out with three chinchillas and apparently among the three was at least one female, he claimed to not know how to sex them. As they years went by, he did absolutely nothing in the way of separating the sexes, he only moved them into two other cages as they continued to multiply, eventually mating with those they were related to because chins, the same as other animals, will not distinguish between relatives and non-relatives, that's the owner's responsibility. Eventually they ended up with THIRTY, yes THIRTY chinchillas, all crammed into THREE medium-sized cages.


"The owner and his wife only contacted rescue after they decided they didn't want the responsibility of caring for all these chins because they were going to have a baby, it's frightening to think that people with such little respect for life were going to reproduce, themselves. These chins were underweight and fur bitten, from stress and inadequate care of course. Initially the owners were going to relinquish all thirty, then suddenly after we'd managed to take away most the wife changed her mind and wanted to keep back a few, the original three.


"The husband actually said that he'd just give us a call when they got too many chins again in the future, adding that it probably 'won't be too long' before that happened and our rescue had been so helpful, made it all so easy for them. I nearly had a stroke when he said that and followed up immediately with the facts about inbreeding (deformities, retardation), insisted that he separate the sexes (which we'd taught him to distinguish between) and made it clear that the "ease" with which he'd been helped was the exception and that rescue would not be able to keep bailing him out. He ended up keeping those three chins but separating the sexes, so he said, to avoid any future reproduction.


"It's become my opinion that in a case such as this, where neglect is certainly involved and the hoarding mentality is clearly present, that it's not enough to rely on the word of the owner when they initially express the intent to relinquish ALL their animals. Hoarding is becoming recognized as a mental/ behavioral illness, I now believe that it's also necessary to engage the advice and assistance of an organization (SPCA, HSUS) with some legal ties that can enforce complete surrender of absolutely ALL the animals AND prevent such a person from owning them in the future; this has been done before and in this case I wish we'd known or realized and done it that way to begin with."






"FREE TO GOOD HOME" (FTGH) FIASCO

"I responded to an ad for some chins that needed homes. The owner was giving them away, but interviewing for the right person. Myself and another person were contacted and I was asked if I could take seven of the ten, mostly female. I went to see them and they were in aweful shape, so I did take all of the remaining seven. All were fur chewed, the two oldest being in the best shape. One female was said to be "mamma" to most or all, but the last couple litters she had were stillborn. All ten were housed in only two cages that were far too small to house so many chins.


"The five younger ones of the seven were all underweight. He told me what pellet brand he used but added that sometimes they got whatever was available, when I visited they were eating his sister's rabbit food because he was disposing of all his chins and didn't want to buy more chin pellets. There was no evidence of hay recently but I was told they were given alfalfa. It was obvious they had not been dusted in a long while.


"The cage they were in was absolutely disgusting. The bowl of food had been urinated in enough that is was a solid mass of food and there was poo in it as well. The water bottle lid was missing, so the bottle was slimy and dirty inside and was empty on top of it all. They only had two very chewed and dirty shelves and their box, made with nails, was chewed until the nails were sticking out at dangerous angles. What was most upsetting was that the owner said he'd had chins for 25 years (and only wanted the best for them). But this neglect clearly amounted to more than just something that had occurred during the couple days it took them to move."






CHINCHILLAS LEFT OUT WITH TRASH
scotsman.com, Jane Bradley for the Edinburgh Evening News, Wed, 19 Oct 2005

SEVEN young chinchillas left out with the rubbish have been rescued by animal welfare officers who today expressed concern at the growing problem of abandoned exotic pets. The South American chinchillas were found in a cardboard box by staff at the Bank of Scotland in Sighthill and handed over to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


The creatures, all aged between one and two years old, were found after workers heard noises coming from a box next to the bins at the back of the bank building. Doreen Graham, spokeswoman for the Scottish SPCA, said more and more people were abandoning unusual animals in the street as they found them too difficult to look after. The problem has become so bad that the charity's only specialist exotic animals unit - at the Lothian Animal Welfare Centre in Balerno - has been forced to expand rapidly since it was established two years ago. Welfare officers regularly find themselves having to rescue exotic spiders, lizards, snakes and mammals which have been abandoned in streets or woodland.


Ms Graham said: "Over the last couple of years, we have seen a significant rise in the number of exotics being abandoned. Basically, exotic animals are more readily available, so people buy them and make the decision based upon their hearts rather than their heads. All of these animals need specialist care and owners need to know what they are doing before they buy. The unit has dealt with all kinds of animals - from a tiny basilisk spider to a 16ft long retriculated python."


The seven chinchillas, five female and two male, were said to be in good health. Kenny Sharpe, assistant manager of the Lothians Animal Rescue Centre, said: "The chinchillas were just dumped in cardboard boxes by some bins near the bank. We don't know why anyone would have left them there. Probably what happened was that someone bought them - they are very cute and appealing - and just found they couldn't look after them. Chinchillas do need a lot of space - and for seven of them, you would need a huge cage to let them run around. They probably got to be too much for their owners. They have been seen by the vet and he says they are fine, although one was a little bit too thin. All we need for them now is a good home, preferably with someone who has had chinchillas before and knows how to look after them."


Ms Graham said the centre was also looking for a home for a chipmunk, found in woodland in Dullatur, Dunfermline, by a man out jogging. She said: "He found the tiny chipmunk sitting on his car when he came back from his run. He gave it some nuts and drove off. When he got to the supermarket, he found it sitting by his car again. It must have clung to the bumper. He knew it wouldn't survive on its own so he brought the animal to us. Again, it is very difficult to look after a chipmunk. Things that people just don't know are very important, such as that the sound of a television - even one that is switched off - can drive a chipmunk to insanity." She added: "Anyone who has abandoned these animals is subject to prosecution under the Protection of Animals Act Scotland of 1912. We are looking for any information anyone might have about whoever could have abandoned the chinchillas."







ABANDONED OUTSIDE IN SUMMERTIME

"I got a phone call today while I was at work, a lady found a chin in the playground in her condo complex along with a rabbit, someone dumped them off and she didn't even know what a chinchilla was, luckily her daugher (6 years old) knew what they were! She found it at about 9 am Thursday morning, and knowing nothing about them left it there and contacted a few friends that she thought may want it, but they didn't.


"Someone in the complex caught the rabbit and took it in as a pet, but left the chin, she was sitting under a slide trying to get some shade, the temp was crazy and the humidity was at least 80% the past 2 days. The lady got on the internet and did some reading after she caught the chin (they put it in the garage) and saw that they couldn't withstand humidity, so she made her husband bring the chin inside (thank God she read up) well, she contacted the APL (Animal Protection League) and they gave her my email.


"I can't believe this little girl made it as long as she did and is in such good shape, she just needed some A/C, food, water and a good dustbath and she's like new. I can't fathom the idea that someone just dumped her, they had to know it could kill her, she is such a loving chin, she loves to be pet and held, comes right up to you, etc. Well, I am out of cage space, so they bought a little cage for her to stay in temporarily, and once I know she is alright, I'll try to put her in with another female and see if they get along.


"They had a hard time leaving her here, they really fell in love with her during her short stay and said that they may decided to let me teach them about chins and adopt her after their baby is born, so it may be a fairy tale ending for the nameless chin, I myself think she should be called Miracle, at least for a nickname after making it through all that heat and humidity for who knows how long, I mean Thursday was sooooo hot and humid, I couldn't even bear to be outside, we stayed in the AC!!!"







DEATH TRAP CAGES

"I don't know how to explain the cage he was in, but I'll try. It was a Superpet cage but parts of the top were missing and they had 1/4 x 1/4 wire mesh added to the top to replace the missing pieces. They had thin wire holding up cardboard tubes for him to run in, but 2 of the 3 tubes were gone and they left the wire hanging. The ledges were hanging by a thread and ready to fall off... [This male chinchilla had the skin on one hind foot pad ripped clean off and a leg break that had been left to heal on its own]


"Then...to top all of that off, the cage that the girl was in was no better. Besides the fact that neither of them had food or water in God knows how long, the girl was padlocked into the cage and they didn't give me the key, I had to cut her out with wire & bolt cutters!! They are both skinny and were severely neglected."






CRIPPLED KIT

"Here is one example of the consequences of 'backyard breeding,' which is when someone decides to breed without any apparent forethought or preparation and no inkling of the personal responsibility involved with bringing a life into this world. When a litter was born to this new backyard breeder, one kit died early (very likely from the same awful mishandling that crippled its sibling) and the other was severely damaged but given no veterinary attention whatsoever.


"The breeder expressed that they 'couldn't afford' vet care, an unacceptable excuse for pet owners, much less breeders. Our rescue was contacted when that chin reached weaning age and the backyard breeder finally realized that they had to do something, and unloading their problem on rescue seemed the easiest way out. The kit was barely able to nurse,
he could not walk or hop without falling and he would push himself around with his hind legs like a quadriplegic due to limited motor control; it's a wonder he managed to survive as long as he did.


"We took him in to our vet for a thorough examination and it was ascertained that this kit had been seriously injured after birth, as if picked up and carried or shaken by the head. Since the backyard breeder's household had both small children and other pets, it's easy to imagine how
this could have occurred. The kit's brain and neck stems had been stretched and severely damaged as a result of the inflicted trauma. He was blind and had lost the ability to control his head, neck and spine. Due to the severity of his injuries and the fact that he was experiencing seizures, euthanasia was the only option. The vet did mention that had this kit received emergency attention when the problem originally occurred, the outcome may have been salvageable."






NEGLECT SURVIVORS

"We received a call one day from a man who was out of the country on business and was looking to give up his three chinchillas which were at his home not too far from our rescue. There was a mom, a dad and their son. He said even though he really cared about these chins he was not around as much lately because of his job and felt he should give them up.


"He was chuckling the entire time he was telling me about the horrors the female had been through. He mentioned that the female had been with someone else for about ten years and they no longer wanted her and since he already had a male chin he took the female in. The female was missing a back leg which had to be amputated when she was very young because the previous owner had put her in an inappropriate cage that had ramps with spokes and when they came home from work one day they found the chin dangling from her broken leg which was caught in one of the ramps. [These awful tragedies are not uncommon with cages that have unsafe mesh width!]



"The man put the male and female in the same cage, which of course resulted in a pregnancy. Keep in mind that this female was TEN yrs old at the time and only had one back leg. Luckily he was around when she went into labor because she had to be rushed into emergency to have a c-section. Thankfully because of a great hospital, both mom and baby survived. The owner then separated the male and female and put the son in with the dad. One day when the female was out of her cage he tried to catch her and in the process broke her front arm. He did not keep up the treatments of caring for the mini cast and return trips to the vet so the chin, of course, removed the cast and her arm healed completely sideways.




"Since he was out of the country when he contacted me, he said a neighbor who was watching the chins would let us in to pick up the chins. When we arrived the apartment was very dark with only one very low light on. The chins were in the kitchen with no windows and the cages were filthy and had not been cleaned in some time. The only way the chins could get off the soiled shavings was a couple of very chewed and filthy wood shelves. Both males were fur chewed and they needed a bath. They had water bottles that were huge so they would not have to be changed often. They had no hay and only a few really bad pellets. We noticed an empty large bag of raisins in the garbage can and another large half empty bag sitting next to the cage.



"The neighbor offered us the raisins and we said we do not give raisins to our chins and she was shocked because the owner had told her they were great for them. She told us one time when the owner left the country she went to check on the chins to find no food at all and only a huge glob of raisins sitting on the floor of their cage as food. The neighbor also informed us that the owner was never home, and except for a couple of very brief trips back he had been out of the country for most of the last two years!!!!! Those chins had been left completely alone all that time. Frankly, we don't know how they survived. After being given new cages, vet care, pellets and hay and some recovery time, these chins found a wonderful new home where they are never alone and given tons of love and NO raisins." [Raisins influence bloodsugar, especially if fed more than one daily, and this can lead to bloodsugar-related seizures.]






HELPING TO TURN THINGS AROUND

"When Laura bought Fiona she had done weeks of research, but neglected to heed me when I told her she would never be able to sleep through Fiona's nocturnal ramblings. So, Fiona left for college and came to live with us, her grandparents. Since we don't have central AC we had to buy Fiona an air conditioner (I don't like her to be above 70F). Fiona was supposed to go to graduate school last summer but now Laura doesn't have AC and it does get hot in Albany.


"I tried to find a rescue group which might be able to find a responsible home for her because of the time it takes to keep Fiona in the style to which she has become accustomed. I really didn't want to give her up but didn't think my husband would help with the animals here. The rescue I spoke with convinced me that they would probably be unable to find Fiona a home as devoted to her and her needs as we are here.


"I can't tell you how upset it makes me to see chins in pet stores, never mind being sold to whomever wants to pay the price. The managers get upset with me when I accost the customer and list all the requirements for keeping chins especially those (exercise, adequate housing, climate needs) that people don't want to ask about and of which they aren't informed. As you know impulse buying affects all animals horribly."






SPIFFY'S FRAT HOUSE NIGHTMARE

"Honestly, I first heard of Spiffy when I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a co-worker and friend of mine at work one day. The girl was explaining how she had been at a frat party and once they were all "lit up" the guys who lived there thought that it would be cool to show everyone a peek at this crazy little exotic animal that she says would "run around and scream." Yet she commented that "it was gross because they kept him in a basement and it was filthy."


"At this point I had heard enough, I asked her if they really didn't seem to care about the animal anymore and did she think that they would be willing to part with it? I also told her that I'd be more that willing to come and pick it up, so that they wouldn't have to catch it or anything. She looked less than enthused about the idea of having to ask frat guys to let go of their drunken entertainment and said with a shrug "Yeah, I'll ask."


"I continued to hound this girl for about three months straight, I wasn't going to give up on this poor animal when it seemed that everyone else had. In the three month span, though, I had managed to find out that the animal was a chinchilla and finally was able to get a contact on one of the guys at the house who owned him. He ignored me and didn't return my calls for another 2-3 weeks. Then one day I FINALLY got a person on the other line and when I inquired about the chinchilla he said "the what?" I thought, man, I'm too late, he must have died. I asked this guy if the animal they had was still there and he said "Oh yeah, I think so."


"Come to find out he was claiming to be allergic to the chin (he was really just scared of it). He was also the only one left in the frat house, the guy who had originally owned him was long gone, moved out. When I arrived at the house this guy, the last one left, was in the process of moving out. He said "Yeah, go ahead, good luck" and pointed me toward a room which I could have found just by the smell. When I opened the door I immediately wanted a mask and gloves, and I thought, I really hope that there isn't a living animal in there still.


"Then I saw a flash of something and realized it was the chinchilla or what was left of him. He was skinny, missing hair in spots and was making the vocalizations for alert [the distress call] already. Terrified and gross, he was without food, water or dust, and I don't know how long it had been like this. The guy I talked to earlier said oh yeah, sure, he has food and a cage and everything. Now the guy suddenly didn't know where it all went. But he did point me toward the cage, which was in the room that stunk of urine and feces. The cage was composed of a grid [mesh width] so large that Spiffy's poor legs were falling through.


"Once I finally got him into the cage and into my car, we drove home and I took a picture of the disgusting cage and then took a picture of the new cage that I had already purchased him with all his goodies ready to go. Since that day it has been a battle of patience to win his trust. I hope that this story helps educate some, and that it might deter others who haven't thought through their decision before purchasing a pet."






THE MANY COSTS OF RESCUE WORK

"Daisy came to our rescue on January 1, 2006. She was surrendered with the information that both her hind legs were paralyzed. She was examined by our vet, and it was discovered that Daisy actually did not have paralysis in her hind legs, but rather had a severely broken right leg and a left leg with several small fractures due to either being dropped or stepped on. The previous owner claimed to know nothing of this.


"Due to the condition of Daisy at the time, it was decided that she would become a permanent resident at our rescue. Daisy had her right leg amputated in January and spent the next several months recuperating from her amputation and getting back on the path to better health. During recovery, Daisy battled GI stasis, enteritis and chronic pain. Altogether, her vet bills totalled several thousand dollars, which our rescue paid for.


"In September of 2006 it was discovered that Daisy's spinal column was beginning to fuse together, either from the distribution of weight from her missing leg or poor genetics. Despite these trials, it's 2007 and Daisy continues to overcome all the hurdles set before her and is enjoying all of the love and attention she receives at our rescue."






WARNING TO RESCUERS ABOUT PEOPLE WANTING "CHEAP BREEDING CHINS"

"It is a well-known and respected fact among serious, reputable breeders that rescue chins are not to be bred [NFB] because they lack pedigree and any indication of hereditary health or behavioral problems. This year [2007] in particular there have been many people contacting rescues wanting 'cheap chins' for breeding. Some actually state that as their adoption purpose, most don't, but in any case rescue chins are not things for unscrupulous people to exploit as a 'money-making opportunity.' People who want rescue chins just because they're cheap rather than because they want to help chins in need are putting themselves first, ahead of the chin's needs and they will continue to do so once the animal is in their care. People who won't pay a sizeable adoption fee often won't put out for decent (safe, spacious, etc.) accomodations, and when the chin is sick or injured they'll put off calling in the vet until things get really bad and then they'll dump the chin right back at rescue. There are many tragedies that those in rescue have the power to prevent simply by carefully screening potential adopters and by charging a sizeable adoption fee."