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


*The Big Picture In Review (defining overpopulation and "good home")
*Casualties of Reckless Breeding
*We CAN curb chinchilla neglect, abuse and homelessness!
*Pocket Pets, What Rights?
*"Family In Desperate Need," insightful humor
*Selections From, "We Are Their Heroes"




THE BIG PICTURE IN REVIEW
(defining overpopulation and "good home")

Also see:
The Rescue Report


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 firsthand knowledge.


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 specialist vet
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.


Chinchilla 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 to them.


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 good 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, responsible 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 colors).


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 test of value lies in whether the animal is ALSO strong, healthy and of good temperament.


"Breeding" 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 homes for.


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- animalapa.org)


Breeding mills that operate from greed, subjecting helpless animals to a life of constant birthing in abject misery: stoppuppymills.org, AHDRS, deathcamp, dog8it, manxalot, tragedy, killingwithkindness, prisonersforprofit, wisconsinproject


Overpopulation cheapens lives and results in a severe shortage of "good homes" (ref
- AFRMA Rodent Rescue). These "expendable" animals suffer from neglect, abandonment and cruelty beyond comprehension: simon, lighthouserescue, dropoffboxes, cagneyanimalwelfare


"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."
(quote
- Cherished Critters, ref- "Counting 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 of health and temperament in the offspring: showdogs, purebredcats, purebredpets


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
- psychiatrictimes.com, ref- 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."
(ref- petalk.com)






WE *CAN* CURB CHINCHILLA NEGLECT, ABUSE AND HOMELESSNESS!


C
hinchilla 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 when breeding or homing, cooperate with local rescues or do rescue yourself in addition to breeding; naturally this is not to suggest that rescue (NFB) 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 and interaction.


Chinparents: consider neutering and observe precationary guidelines when rehoming.


Adoption candidates: If you can provide a good home, buy FIRST from a rescue/ shelter. 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" pregnant chins.


PLEASE 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 shopping!






POCKET PETS
selections from the article,"Pocket Pets," written by Barry Kent MacKay,
featured in API's Animal Issues, Volume 32, Number 1, Spring 2001



What Rights?
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.



Pets are a lifetime investment-
their lifetime.


Pets 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.


A responsible pet owner takes his duty to his pet's well- being with all the seriousness that a parent has for nurturing their child.

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.


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 too many.


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 NEED"
Article from humor page of Hearts United for Animals, by Robyn Christensen (c) 1996


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 household.


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?






SELECTIONS FROM, "WE ARE THEIR HEROES"
By Jim Willis



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 bear,
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.