THE BIG PICTURE IN REVIEW
overpopulation and "good home")
Also see: The
Since late 2004, in the U.S.,
there has been a dramatic increase in the chinchilla populations at
both kill shelters
and chinchilla rescues,
and that trend has continued and considerably worsened right through
2008. The ChinCare webmasters have worked with U.S. and international
rescue services and chinparents in need of rescue and rehoming assistance
on a regular basis since
2003; our message on chinchilla overpopulation derives from extensive
Since 2005, many chinchilla-experienced rescue services have simply
reached capacity and closed their doors for good, compelled not only
by the upsurge in unwanted pet chinchillas but also by an extremely
slow adoption rate. As of 2008 there have not been enough new rescue
services to take their place, and the remaining chinchilla rescues
are frequently overburdened and at full capacity. Unfortunately,
online rescue listings
often do not accurately reflect the current number of rescues for
a given area, because list keepers add to their lists without verifying
the open/ closed status of those already listed.
Chinchilla rescue workers use their own time and money to rehabilitate-
to treat for behavioral problems or to take the chin to the exotics
to cure injuries and illness- before
the animals can eventually be adopted out. It takes a lot of time,
energy, patience and stamina to unselfishly invest in restoring a
life, and it can be very exhausting and heartbreaking. Rescue workers
help the sick, the injured or just plain unwanted: chinchillas discarded
due to the owner's change of lifestyle or interest in a new hobby
or another pet, senior chins rendered homeless because the chinparent
"wasn't prepared for" the long
term commitment, chins that are pregnant from pet store mis-sexing,
and those that have simply been neglected, abandoned or abused.
rescue isn't "someone else's problem," it's EVERYONE'S problem,
including breeders and pet owners. Everyone needs to do
their part to
spare both the chins and the rescues that help them.
OVERPOPULATION can be determined by the ratio of homeless chinchillas
to good homes, the ratio should be more or less in balance. People
who dismiss that as "impossible," are usually the ones that
are contributing to the problem instead of the solution.
Overpopulation occurs at the point where there is an ever-increasing
surplus of animals and a shrinking number of good homes available
A "GOOD HOME" as we define it is one where there is
a financially responsible adult present with accurate chinchilla-specific
knowledge, who possesses the resources, time and interest to meet
the chinchilla's needs on a daily basis with unfailing, loving dedication.
Chinchillas are still regarded as "exotics" and many people
still don't even know what they are (You've got what?! A chihuahua?
Like the Taco Bell dog?) and their most
basic care issues (low humidity and temperature requirements,
daily supervised exercise and interaction, safe mesh width on cages,
identifying fungus, malocclusion, etc.) are not as popularly acknowledged
as those of, say, a dog or cat... for
those reasons and more, good homes FOR CHINS are
NOT that easy to come by!
While breeding chinchillas may be a source of pride and joy for pet
chinchilla "hobby" breeders, and while it is true that breeding
primarily for top health
and temperament will greatly increase the likelihood of a chin
being kept and cherished for his entire lifetime rather than ending
up neglected, abused or homeless, there does come a point at which
it doesn't matter if the chins that end up at shelters/ rescues are
pedigreed show winners or poorly-bred pet chins if they're being dumped
in ANY case because of the OTHER factor, the human factor- not enough
homes. When people breed and bring more
chinchillas into this world, the availability of good homes for those
in need of rescue/ rehoming shrinks proportionately.
The Rescue Report
contains photos and actual case descriptions from fellow chinchilla
rescue workers. The ChinCare webmasters were personally involved with
some of the cases described, others were told to us firsthand. They're
all true, horrible, and deeply sad, but now it's up to those who care,
the ones on whom pet chinchillas depend, to take
measures to see that this current trend of abandonment and despair
does not continue. We need to ensure that those chins who have already
been born will be able to look forward to a life worth living.
CASUALTIES OF RECKLESS BREEDING
Also see: Setting
Standards for Responsible Breeding, Ownership, Neutering
The overpopulation crisis has at least as much, if not more,
to do with the ignorance of some chinparents,
the greed and stupidity of careless breeders, and pet
stores that don't separate chins by gender as it does with dedicated
pet breeders. This message is not about blame, because scapegoating
achieves nothing except petty divisiveness and pointless animosity,
EVERYONE needs to unite to curb
this problem, for the chins' sake!
On average, chinchillas can have 2-3 litters a year of 1-4
kits, but that's average, they can produce more. Chinchillas live
a long time, 10-15 years on average in captivity, and every chinchilla
born will need a good
home that is willing to invest their time, affection, energy and
expense for that chinchilla's ENTIRE lifetime. This means that
every time a person allows a chinchilla to reproduce, they are asking
SOMEBODY ELSE (the adopter) to make a long term, time and money-consuming
commitment to that life. Too often people are not
willing to devote the time and study required to become a truly competent,
breeder, and that's okay, because not everyone needs to breed!
There are standards,
guidelines for responsible pet chinchilla breeding that address issues
vital to the health and temperament of the offspring. Simply allowing
any two animals of the opposite
sex to indiscriminately reproduce is irresponsible, poor breeding
practices are costly to both the chin and breeder because it perpetuates
problems like heart murmurs, malocclusion,
deficiencies and other genetic flaws (especially with mutation
Those of us who do rescue know, it's not uncommon to find inbreeding,
neglect, overcrowding and deplorable living conditions in cases
where an irresponsible pet owner started out with two and ended up
with thirty or forty chinchillas. The owner is usually totally unprepared,
unable or unwilling to provide proper care, or vet care, and the animals
become trapped, suffering, at the mercy of a hoarder.
Pet chinchilla breeding is NOT a real "hobby" or a "get
rich quick" scheme, there is significant expense and effort required
to start and maintain even a small herd, and these days chinchillas
are more difficult to adopt out because there are so many more than
there used to be.
Those dedicated pet breeders who have assumed the mission to "improve
the breed" should take a moment to be honest with themselves,
to seriously consider whether what they're doing will truly advance
health and temperament in chinchilla generations to come OR whether
they're simply using the animals they produce as a means to gain awards
and recognition for themselves (the pelter clubs
ECBC and MCBA were formed to support the fur industry). That's
fine if the more superficial qualities (conformity, fur color,
etc.) win shows and garner praise for the breeder, but the real
of value lies in whether the animal is ALSO strong, healthy and
of good temperament.
is not mutually exclusive with "rescue!"
Pet chinchilla breeders can and SHOULD
do rescue, this is the only way of getting a "checks and
balances" system regarding overpopulation. It is erroneous to
assume that breeders who do rescue are also breeding rescue chinchillas.
Reputable breeders know
better and do not want to breed questionable or inferior stock.
It is not "anti-breeding" to ask for this personal accountability
(doing rescue) from pet breeders. If they don't do rescue
themselves they should be in touch with rescue services in their area,
that is the ONLY WAY to get an accurate assessment of the supply/
demand of chins so as not to saturate the market with animals that
will ultimately get dumped, neglected or abused. Those who arrogantly
refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions,
who say, "overpopulation is inevitable, so I can do what I want
and ignore the suffering" are a problem to everyone- responsible
pet breeders, chinparents, the chins themselves, rescue workers and
society at large.
We applaud competent, responsible
breeders: Those who research the homeless situation in their state
before breeding and who either do rescue themselves or work closely
with those who do, who pursue top health
and temperament in their breeding program and don't breed NFB's,
breeders who ALWAYS use an adoption
contract and charge and adoption
fee when finding a good home for those they bring into the world,
and who are prepared to permanently keep and care for those whom they
can't find good
Overpopulation and other casualties of reckless breeding have occurred
with nearly every other animal that's become a domesticated pet: hamsters,
gerbils, rats, cats, dogs, etc. But now exotics that used to be quite
rare at shelters are showing
up with increasing frequency: sugar gliders, hedge hogs, pot-bellied
pigs, ferrets, etc.
If the pet chinchilla community doesn't
take heed and implement
measures immediately to avoid the trend that has ravaged so many
other domesticated species, then this is what our beloved chinchillas
will soon come face to face with...
Overpopulation driven by owners who allow their pets to roam or purchase
opposite-sex pairs and fail to spay or neuter:
"Millions of unwanted and homeless cats are born in our country
each year. During the peak of the kitten season - from late April
to September - pounds and some humane shelters kill unwanted and abandoned
cats and kittens at the rate of over one per minute. For example,
two uncontrolled breeding cats, plus all their kittens and all their
kitten's kittens, if none are ever neutered or spayed, add up to 80,399,780
cats in 10 years."
(ref- Humane Society
of Cobb County)
"Statistics have proven that 75% to 80% of pet owners keep their
animals 2 years or less! If most people were responsible pet owners,
we would not have problems such as: Pounds and shelters filled with
homeless, neglected and abused animals. Thousands of unwanted puppies
and kittens being born each year. Eight million animals are being
euthanized each year in our shelters." (ref-
Breeding mills that operate from greed, subjecting helpless animals
to a life of constant birthing in abject misery: stoppuppymills.org,
Overpopulation cheapens lives and results in a severe shortage of
AFRMA Rodent Rescue). These
"expendable" animals suffer from neglect, abandonment and
cruelty beyond comprehension: simon,
"We are drowning in pets. None of them have a voice in their
existence and none of them can change the course of their lives. Too
often these animals face abandonment, suffering and cruel death. Humane
officers can give you countless examples of a life worse than death
for many animals. They see the suffering and brutality to which animals
are subjected. Compared to the pain of that sort of existence, euthanasia
by loving hands can be a blessing. Please help us in the battle to
eliminate euthanasia as a form of population control. Adopt from your
local shelter. Treat the responsibility of owning an animal with the
seriousness it deserves and always spay and neuter your pets."
Cherished Critters, ref-
The Rescues" a chinchilla forum thread from 2004)
Deformities, retardation and infirmities that result from inbreeding/
linebreeding; this genetic manipulation in pursuit of superficial,
"eye-appealing" traits often flagrantly disregards the affects
and temperament in the offspring: showdogs,
Breeding more of a species that is already overproduced inevitably
attracts the dregs of society, those who practice "hoarding,"
pet theft and "bunching."
Hoarders take in many more animals than they can adequately care for,
sometimes hundreds, who are then trapped in an environment of severe
neglect: filth, untreated injuries, starvation, many become seriously
ill or die long before the problem is eventually discovered. "Based
on the data collected... there are 700 to 2,000 new cases of animal
hoarding every year in the United States." (quote-
Animal Hoarding Consortium).
"Bunchers" collect animals for Class B dealers who then sell
the animals (often at a very large profit) to medical laboratories
[for vivisectional research] across the nation. 'Bunchers' look for
cheap deals [such as "Free
To Good Home"] and often comb neighborhoods, newspapers,
and classified ads in their search for stray and free animals."
WE *CAN* CURB CHINCHILLA
NEGLECT, ABUSE AND HOMELESSNESS!
rescue isn't "someone else's problem," it's EVERYONE'S problem,
including breeders and pet owners. EVERYONE owes it to the chins themselves
to prevent the problems and tragedies they
suffer that ultimately place a crushing burden on chinchilla rescue.
Post this Petfinder link on your site: Shelter
Status in the USA and Canada
People need to be better advised on what
they're getting into before they adopt. The two most common reasons
for relinquishing pet chinchillas are: "Allergies" and "Not
enough time/ attention to give." Anyone with chins for adoption
(owner, breeder, rescuer) needs to stress that chins are not
"hypoallergenic" and that they are long-lived and require
a lot of daily attention
and supervised exercise
time during their nighttime waking hours.
Raise awareness of the "Before You Buy" critical
points (post on your site, print copies to distribute to pet
stores, etc.) to help make these important particulars better
known to the public.
Current pet breeders: Implement standards
cooperate with local rescues or do rescue yourself in addition to
breeding; naturally this is not to suggest that
chinchillas should be bred because
no serious breeder would consider that. When breeders do rescue this
acts as a "checks and balances" against pet overpopulation.
Every adoption contract
should include a provision for returning the chin to the adoption
source should the adopter need to relinquish in future for any reason.
PLEASE don't breed if you are in a state where the rescue services
are overloaded and there are pet chins that can't find homes ALREADY,
do rescue instead until the demand and supply is more in balance.
It is NOT "anti-breeding" to exercise accountability and responsibility
to the animals' welfare until their situation improves.
Potential pet breeders: "more" is not necessarily "better"
and chinchilla rescues are already at a crisis point! If you
just got your first chin and are so thrilled that your first impulse
is to double, triple and quadruple the joy by reproducing, please
stop and think of all the chins languishing at rescue before you add
to the ranks of the homeless. The more chins you have, the more responsibility
you have, more chins cost more in time, energy, supplies and veterinary
bills. Better to enjoy and spoil the few you have unless you're prepared
to look into what it takes to be a dedicated, responsible
breeder. Be aware that chinchilla breeding is NOT a "quick cash"
sideline, not after costs are factored in, any pet breeder can verify
that. Also, finding good
homes for those already here has become increasingly difficult
because in recent years the public has come to realize that chinchillas
can be a demand on their time; they're not a display pet like fish,
they require daily supervised exercise
Chinparents: consider neutering
and observe precationary guidelines when
Adoption candidates: If you can provide a
home, buy FIRST from a
Please consider adopting a standard gray chinchilla as opposed to
the colorful "mutations."
Grays are getting passed over (in
both the U.S. and UK!) even though they're the chinchilla's
original color and on the whole are more genetically stable, robust
and longer-lived than mutations. Adopt same-sex
pairs (learn to determine gender!)
instead of an M/F pair, compatability
between same-sex pairs is as attainable as between opposite-sex pairs,
also be aware that even related chinchillas will breed!
Educate pet stores! Distribute
basic care sheets, ask that they group their chinchillas by
gender to prevent mis-sexing and people buying "accidentally"
get involved with rescue if you are a person with significant chinchilla
experience, available resources and the time and dedication to volunteer:
be a foster home for an existing rescue
service near you or start your own
chinchilla rescue and put your name on volunteer rescue lists. Unfortunately,
online rescue listings
often do not accurately reflect the current number of rescues for
a given area, because list keepers add to their lists without verifying
the open/ closed status of those already listed. Sponsor
a rescue chinchilla and support rescue efforts when you do your chin
selections from the article,"Pocket
Pets," written by Barry Kent MacKay,
featured in API's Animal Issues,
Volume 32, Number 1, Spring 2001
Recently a local radio commentator went
on a rant against "animal-rights activists." The speaker's theory
was that since animals have no rights, activists should not champion
the "animal-rights" cause.
Of course he missed the point. It is
precisely because animals are, in law, regarded as chattel -- as mere
merchandise or property -- that animals so often suffer in numbers
dictated solely by the economic forces of supply and demand. They
have no rights (or very few, at any rate) as defined by law
and they often suffer accordingly.
Pets are a lifetime investment-
don't "teach" responsibility, empathy, compassion
and devotion to their owners, they REQUIRE those qualities
to be already present and in good working order.
|Pets aren't "property"
or a disposable commodity, they are living beings that
can feel and hurt just as we can, even if they don't always
understand why or what is happening to them.
pet owner takes his duty to his pet's well- being with
all the seriousness that a parent has for nurturing their
Pocket pets? The very term suggests something frivolous. Toys. In
researching this article, real and virtual pet stores were visited.
Throughout it all, the dealers, veterinarians, and pocket pet fanciers
put forth the impression that pocket pets were living toys, things
that amused or charmed us, that provided decoration or interest. One
individual actually opined that there was a convergence happening
between living pocket pets and those mechanical virtual pets that
are computerized robots shaped like cartoon animals that will "die"
if certain actions aren't taken. "One or the other? What's the difference?"
he asked with a shrug.
The difference, of course, is that animals are not toys, but creatures
with specific, and sometimes poorly understood, needs, and with the
ability to suffer if they fall into the wrong hands or receive inadequate
care, no matter how well meaning the care-giver. Many become the responsibility
of young children -- a living training ground that may ultimately
benefit the human child in learning responsible care, but at the expense
of a living, feeling animal who can be hurt by childish misjudgments
or infantile errors, temper tantrums or immature carelessness.
Because they are, both legally and practically, treated as mere items,
anyone who can afford a pocket pet can buy one. That is true of all
companion animals, of course, and the result is catastrophic.
Dogs and cats die, in their millions, in the euthanasia rooms of the
nation's shelters and pounds.
Ferrets also arrive at these shelters. Albino snakes. Rabbits ...
small, dwarf varieties who, through generations of carefully selective
breeding, showed exaggerated features designed simply to make them
cute. Bought for Easter gifts, they wound up unwanted. The floodgates
are opening wider. Whether pocket pets, once the novelty wears off,
are discarded, resold or simply dumped somewhere, there are already
Of course the champions of the industry will argue otherwise, will
point to the best cared for of these animals, the most loved and successful
of them, as proof that there is no cruelty involved. But a pet shop
survey (replicating one of many years ago, when the pocket pet
fad was so much newer) has revealed that customers still are not
fully informed as to the species-specific needs of the animals they
buy. Often the pet shop personnel have an inadequate knowledge of
these animals' unique needs. Some knowledgeable pet shops will screen
adoption candidates, but most will not risk loss of a sale if it means
being thorough in explaining the needs of these animals, or the problems
they can cause within the family by their habits.
Animals are not toys. The pocket pet phenomenon is yet another sad
example of human arrogance, disguised as harmless fun, but potentially
destructive to those animals who have the misfortune of being both
small and cute.
"FAMILY IN DESPERATE
from humor page of Hearts United for Animals, by Robyn Christensen
Help Urgently Required! Please help! After two long years of
being on a waiting list for an exotic rare breed dog, we were finally
notified by the breeder that at long last, our number has come up,
and... WE'RE HAVING A PUPPY! We must IMMEDIATELY get rid of our children
now, because we just KNOW how time consuming our new little puppy
is going to be! Since our puppy will be arriving on Monday, we MUST
place the children in new homes this weekend!!!
They are described as: One male, white, blonde hair, blue
eyes. Four years old. Excellent disposition. He doesn't bite. Name
is Tommy. Temperament tested. Current on all shots. Tonsils removed
already and very healthy condition! Tommy eats everything, is very
clean, house trained and gets along well with others. Does not run
with scissors and with a little time and training, he will do well
in a new home.
One female, strawberry blonde hair, green eyes. Three years
old. Can be surly at times. Non-biter, thumb sucker. Her name is Mary.
Temperament tested, but needs a little attitude adjusting occasionally.
She is current on all shots, tonsils out, and is very healthy and
happy (mostly.) Gets along well with little boys, but does not like
to share toys. She is house trained, and would do best in a one child
We really LOVE our children, and want to do what is best for
them. I hope you understand, that ours is a UNIQUE situation, and
we have a real emergency here! They MUST be placed by Sunday night
at the latest. I hear that in Tennessee there are bins where you can
leave off strays... does anyone know if there is something like that
around here for children?
FROM, "WE ARE THEIR HEROES"
If you worry that you have
not made a difference, you have,
for only those who do not worry about it have not.
If you feel overwhelmed, if the weight of problems is too heavy to
remember it is a shared burden
and the strength of numbers can accomplish much.
If you consider that we cannot save them all,
and what difference does one make?,
you ought to know the joy of the one who is saved.
Mourn those we cannot save, it is a eulogy to their being.
Do not let their loss be in vain.
If anger wells up within you, because people are the problem,
remember your humanity and that people are also the solution.
See beyond the unlovable, the unattractive,
the impure and the wounded -
see that their spirit is as deserving as the rest.
Listen to your heart. Sometimes we have to do that which
we are most afraid of.
Be true to yourself and your beliefs.
Family may abandon you,
friends may disappoint you, strangers will ridicule you.
People shun what they do not understand.
Help them to understand - kindly, softly, gently.
Your rewards will not be material, but they will be meaningful,
and the courage of your convictions can survive anything.
We are small boats cast adrift on a cruel sea,
but someday the tide will turn toward a safe harbor.
No matter how dark the storm clouds,
or deep the pain of heartbreak - never forget:
We are their heroes.