I didn't mean to turn this thread into a 'poor me' discussion. I really wanted to take the opportunity to share some detailed cautionary advice about how not to get in over your head. I don't think there are too many candid discussions from rescuers who have closed their doors about why. Most of the rescues that I have had to put on the closed list really didn't want to have to close and wanted to keep their burnout stories rather private. It's a difficult thing to face.
I don't mean to sound discouraging or dispiriting to you. We need all the rescuers we can get.
Very conservatively, on average, I get about 3 to 4 surrender calls for various quantities of pigs a week, depending on the time of year. The more you are out there, making yourself known, the more of those calls you will get. I know that Rose gets more than that as do some other rescues. I've gone a whole month without doing an adoption. On a very good week, I might get 4 to 6 pigs adopted out.
Para - the best advice I can give you is to develop a hard heart early so you can be there for the long haul. Pinta is right. That's part of what I was alluding to with rescue changing you. On one hand, you become more sensitive to a lot of issues. On the other hand, you have to toughen up about certain things.
Set priorities as to which pigs get saved and which pigs don't. Also exactly right. That's why I'm trying to make the point about shelter pigs first. There is more to that logic than meets the eye. I could start a whole thread (which would get pretty complicated, involved and hot) on that topic alone.
Again, I just want to underscore my point about leveraging your rescue efforts. The more you can leverage your efforts, the more effective you become. The more pigs you will save or help, both directly and indirectly. I'm not saying you aren't doing that, I'm just making a general point to everyone reading this thread. I look at it a number of ways. One is basic math--more lives saved and helped for your dollars and your effort. One is reward, it is more rewarding to help more with your efforts as well. The biggest one is the ripple effect. You don't know how far your reach might touch. It's pretty amazing what one person can do when they take action and make an effort.
So, I challenge everyone who wants to see change to think outside the box, think creatively about some small thing you can do (above and beyond what you are already doing) that would touch someone else or help some animal. Just like the smallest of donations do in fact help me, the smallest of efforts can help or enlighten someone else or help or save an animal.
And on the topic of donations, I greatly appreciate any and all donations. And I thank you for your concern for my situation, but it's a bit embarassing as that was the farthest thing from why I posted what I did. I do know that I've done a lot in a variety of ways to help guinea pigs mostly. I don't discount that. I feel good about it. And the bummer is, I can do more. It's time and money that stops me.
Part of my plan to get myself back on track is to cut way back on the number of pigs I have here and focus more on the highly leveraged activities that I'm pretty darn good at. For example, I have a web site with a database for guinea pig vets, just about ready to do, but haven't had (or made) time to do some final debugging.
Anyway, thank you all for your concern. Thank you for any and all donations (I'm not good at sending formal thank you's).
- I GAVE, dammit!
I didn't mean to embarrass you, either. I just tend to jump in feet first to anything I consider a 'cause'. And when I read what you wrote, it just really burned me up that you were in trouble. We can all sit in our own homes, complacent with our pigs, and enjoying the benefits of your advice and experience.. But I can't just sit and watch something bad happen to you without wanting to crusade about it a little. :)
I think comments should ONLY focus on positive aspects, not negative (not sure how you would handle complaints). Hope you understand what I am getting at.
If I had successfully started and maintained a thread here, I would have included links back to the referring member, who could comment in their post what treatments had been done.
Actually, I was going to send the link to you privately, but I guess I'll just let people know it right now. It is TEST DATA, people. And the listings don't show the right data in a certain way right now.
But, feel free to check it out as it is so far and send me your comments. You should be able to register and then see how the listings are created.
www.GuineaPigVets.com or www.CavyVets.com
The listings ARE categorized by type of procedure. Check out the rest of the policies. Looking forward to some feedback . . .
Also, the sample dialog on qualifying a vet is not done. I just pulled some stuff from my neuter page to fill it in for now.
Oh, and aren't the graphics too cute?
PLEASE don't put in real vet listings yet. The database will be reinitialized when I'm ready for it to go live.
- I GAVE, dammit!
I would have loved to have something like this a few months ago when I was just starting out and had a very sick pig. Thankfully, I found GuineaLynx and then just started calling vet after vet until I found someone.
I have had experience with vets in Atlanta and would be quite willing to post about it. I registered and when the search string came up, it did so with an error. Let us know when you get it all sorted out, so we can start adding vets!!
PS - I love the piggie in the life preserver. :)
And as for the ripple effect....it was your efforts with the Hollister rescue that inspired me to start rescuing. Since October, I have placed 30 guinea pigs in great homes. And there are 30 more either in my house or in foster right now. So that's 60 guinea pigs you've never met (well, most of them), in a town you've probably never been to, who owe their lives to you.
Para, it sounds like you are educating yourself and struggling with the tough issues. I didn't mean to come down to hard on you. It's been a rough week. Yesterday, a 6 year-old sow was dumped at the humane society 1 hour north of me. I arranged for a foster home, called around and found a volunteer to drive her to me, got it cleared with the shelter, and then she arrived here with a terrible case of bumblefoot, one tooth, and horribly thin. So I took my last adoptable pig to the foster home in her place. I was pretty discouraged. Didn't mean to take it out on you.
- I GAVE, dammit!
I respect and value the fact that we can all sit around and talk about these heady issues and not get snarky.
I really like and respect you and Teresa. Even if you "came down hard" on me over something, I'd not be angry about it. I'd figure I deserved it, probably.
Continuing working with you guys, and being a part of your community is really important to me. I'm not going to let strong opinions, or advice sway me from this path. Other people's experience is always a hard pill to swallow. Sometimes all you can do is nod your head, disagree privately, and then find out later how terribly wrong you were. :)
- Poop Obsessed
I have been rescuing guinea pigs for 8 years and rabbits for 15. Yikes. Can't believe its been so long! I earn a decent income but over these years I have been through all of the following to the utmost you can imagine: burned out, broke, angry, exhausted, extremely overweight (I never cook anymore), depressed, totally overwhelmed, irritable, a crap mother, a REALLY lousy wife, a useless employee, a severe acne face at 48???). Yowsa....
I have had 80 piggies in my house, 10 piggies in my house, 40 piggies, 20 piggies, 15 piggies, 50 piggies.... not to mention the bunnies since I am also a fosterer and educator with the House Rabbit Society, and let me say that there IS a big difference between 12 and 20. And 20 and 40. And having 80 to 100+ like Peter Gurney, in an efficiency? Unfathomable. Don't think you can handle 20 because 12 is so easy. There IS a difference. A difference in time, money, energy, space, ability to cope, ability to find homes for.
I spent about $16,000 a year on rescue the last 2 years.. that is $16K each year, not in total. Josephine, I don't know how you spend $75 a month on veggies and pellets... I spend about $450 on veggies per month. I do buy organic only but still. Maybe I overfeed? My biggest expense is bedding - I use 2 large Carefresh bags a day. Sometimes I switch to aspen or even pine for a week to give myself a money break, but really, I hate that stuff. Its so MESSY. It sticks to me and everything else and is a bear to clean up! So Carefresh it is for 48 weeks a year.
I also use either Oxbow or Oxford Meadows hay. That is costly but I love it... its too hard to get decent hay in the east. Oxbow pellets only.
I get all my piggies spayed/neutered, so that adds a lot since my $35 adoption fee doesn't cover that. I have 9 unadoptables who live with me, 11 for adoption, and a bunch of fosterers but I supply them with pellets, bedding, and hay (usually). I am constantly medicating bunnies and piggies it seems. I am always at the vet, too.
I love my piggies and bunnies. I love them so much. But it is wearing greatly on my emotional health and with working full time, there is no time for ME. I have scaled wayyyy back. I was up to 30 a month ago but even that is just too much now. I can't handle it anymore. 20 is my limit.
If you don't set limits, beware. The worst is that one day you realize that you no longer sit and read, go to the movies, enjoy a dinner out with your husband, like your full time job, take a bath or even make time to get your hair cut. Well, the worst isn't that.. its that YOU DON'T CARE THAT YOU DON'T DO THOSE THINGS... You would rather stay home and take care of critters. My hands are a mess. So is my hair. Thank God for QVC and ebay so I can at least buy online!!! LOL.
And don't forget how much fun it is to plan a vacation and go away. Its so HARD to get that organized. And when I am away, I am so in awe of all of the free time.
OK, so I am the voice of doom and gloom? Hardly. Its the voice of reality. But I guess I am ok now since I made the 5 year mark? Not sure. Thank goodness there are wonderful people around me who make it all worthwhile. Fellow rescuers, family, shelter staff, adopters, friends who understand. Not to mention the fact that when I look at these piggies... sometimes it makes me cry.. really... when I hold them and whisper in their ears and feed them and listen to that wonderful munching and crunching... they listen to me, and I am sure they know how much I love them and that I will do everything in my power to make sure they are happy. Forever.
Para is lucky to have help. I know that this was a factor in Saskia closing her rescue. It would have been great if I had seen this thread a month ago...maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, I don't know. But you are right. There is a HUGE difference between 12 and 20.
Your comments about not doing anything for yourself anymore, and not caring about it, hit dead-on.
My wake-up call was Robert and I breaking up. All of a sudden, I'm on my own income, my own time to do rescue-related work, and all the normal issues you face when breaking up a long-term relationship. Thank God for my loyal and trusted volunteers. They have been so understanding and supportive while I try to get some balance back in my life. Now that I'm single again, I've lost 20 pounds, spend more time dancing than doing guinea pig internet updates, am cutting back drastically on the number of guinea pigs I have, am trying to focus more on work (which I have to with all the travel lately), and am trying to dig myself out of my financial nightmare.
Do you think I could put my own personal ad on my website? Wanted: Tall, dark and handsome single guy, mid-40's to 50ish range, great dancer, loves animals, especially guinea pigs, financially well-off. Think there's anybody out there?
On the GPV website, the registration isn't working right. I'll create a new post here when I get a bit more progress made with it.
- I GAVE, dammit!
Last night, for instance.. We went to Knoxville, hung out with Foster at her home for a while (she's got some beautiful pigs, and a great setup - Cages balanced everywhere and it all looks cool!) and then drove back through a little snow and ice to arrive back home around 10:45. We stopped at a Walmart in some rinky redneck town to get some cubes but they didn't have any. We bought wire shelving racks for our supplies instead, and continued on.
Once home, we unloaded all the animals and put the shelves together. This took HOURS. I never knew "Assembly in 2 minutes!" meant scraped knuckles, using a power drill, two people, and 3 hours worth of work. Then we pulled EVERYTHING out of the pig room and put it all back in there again. Crammed tight, shelves overflowing, cages covering every available surface. But it's organized now! It almost looks respectably like a rescue room!
Then, around 3 AM we started building C&C Cages for the new guys so they wouldn't have to spend any longer in their petstore cages than absolutely necessary. I've never built one before (we used to use washing machine drip pans) so this was a learning experience. I fussed and cut and bitched at Alex when he didn't cut straight and eventually just kicked him off the project altogether. After my sort of shoddy Coroplast bins were made we went around the house ripping cubes apart from everywhere, since we couldn't buy any new. We assembled the cages, gave the new piggies brief names so we could at least start recording weights, weighed them all, did a brief inspection, cut their toenails, and dropped them in their new homes.
We finished around 8 am this morning, and woke up at noon to take our daughter to get her eyes checked. Next weekend we have all three kids, and I'll spend the entire weekend working, cleaning cages, medicating pigs, cleaning up kid toys, making sure dogs don't play rough, cleaning cages again, cooking, and might get some sleep some Sunday night after we straighten up again once the kids leave.
I used to read 5 books a week. I'm lucky now to even finish 1 a month. We never watch TV, go out to dinner, go on a "date", or do anything together other than clean, medicate pigs, pester the vet, clean, take care of kids, clean, take care of dogs, clean, and do cages. I do my regular 40+ hour a week job between the hours of 10pm and 9am because with so many pigs and kids, it's the only time of the day when the house is quiet enough to work. I also only get about 4-5 hours of sleep a day (usually between 9am and 1pm), and even that seems like wasting time sometimes.
I do understand everything that everyone is saying, and I have already decided to draw the line at these 20 for now, until I see what the impact on our lifestyle, finances, and time is going to be. I'm working on updating our website right now, and am going to place ads on Petfinder and create a website there, as well. I'll let you guys know when the site is ready, and you can see all my pretty new Golden Agouti babies!!
Oh, and Chary? The box from The Ferret Store arrived today. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!
- Poop Obsessed
I am so afraid my husband will leave me. He puts up with a lot, but doesn't really help do anything. He DOES haul in bedding for me now that my left arm is useless. Not sure what happened to it.. I think its bursitis. One doctor told me I might have fibromyalgia. How lovely.
Chary... really, you NEED TO WASH YOUR HAIR, DARLING! Just don't bother blow drying or styling it. And if you don't brush your teeth twice a day, they will fall out and no one will adopt any piggies from you! hahahahaha. Oh.. been a long day, folks. Sorry.
I have no help. Sometimes I get people over but its less than once a month. If I wasn't so obsessive-compulsive about clean bedding, it wouldn't be such a problem.
Para, enjoy your husband's help while you can. It will not last. He will get tired of it and eventually end up on the couch while you clean and feed. IF I am not right 6 months from now, please write me. I wanna know if there is anyone out there with a sig other who actually helps after the rescue high wears off.
By the way, I am in the process of filling out 501(c)(3) paperwork. If I ever get it done and I become legit, you can be sure I will pass on my paperwork to anyone who wants it. Its hard enough doing this without it all being out-of-our-own-pockets, too. Maybe we could even make a 'House Piggy Society'. :-))
Well, I am going to watch CSI tonight and have a glass (or 3) of wine. I am excited!
There are some things that I see differently, some may be regional differences. I totally agree that the BIGGEST difference we can make is by educating people about responsible pet ownership and care. Also, if we could get to the root of the pet store problem by putting the mass retail breeders out of business by getting pet stores like Petsmart and Petco to stop buying their poor, sick animals. THAT is what I wish I could even had a clue how to tackle!
Another is one we won't agree on and that's OK. I feel very fortunate to live here where the Knoxville/Knox Co. Animal Center is out local shelter and it is a VERY well run shelter. I do take owner surrenders because they are so often (not always) living in horrible conditions. More often than not they come in in tiny and/or wire bottom cages, cedar shavings, never seen hay or veggies or Vitamin C. They are often in horrible pain from mites, ringworm or both. When I am really full, I refer people to the shelter. At least at the shelter they are warm, fed and clean. Since I started none have been euthanized there, but I would rather see that happen than have them live a long life of suffering and a painful death. I'm afraid that's what happens to many owner surrenders that I can't take in : ( There are other shelters near here that are not as nice but most don't take guinea pigs. The really rural ones don't know what a guinea pig is!
I have also tried the surrender fee. It is a great idea but the most I can see getting is maybe $20.00 a pig. By the time people call me they have made up their mind that they are over it and the animals will be gone from their house. If I asked $150.00 they would die laughing. I can hear it now, "honey, I can let it go in the field down the street for free!" I have gotten the $20. surrender fee a few times but the ones that haunt me are the ones that said "never mind" or never called back.
It makes me sad to hear some of you talking about not taking care of yourselves and having such difficulties. I pray for us all that we will keep our priorities straight, do what we can the best that we can. Let's help the animals by getting to the root of the problem and knowing when to say I can't do any more right now. I hope to be around to do this for a long time by setting limits, priorities and sticking to them.
Knoxville Guinea Pig Rescue
Judi, what is clean bedding? Is this a bed that doesn't have any hay in it? Never heard of it.
Great work everyone with the C & C cages--it's the first thing I talk about with potential adopters. In fact, I have a secret project in the works using our junior volunteers. I'm having cards made that say
Better Guinea Pig Cages!
And we're going to sneak around all the PetCos and drop them in their tiny plastic cages. Hee hee hee.
- Poop Obsessed
I used to be BAD.... I took little index cards and wrote on them, 'THESE CAGES ARE NOT FIT FOR GUINEA PIGS!'. And I went around to Petco's and taped them to their cages. oooooh... hee hee hee. I admit to feeling like a total criminal.And we're going to sneak around all the PetCos and drop them in their tiny plastic cages. Hee hee hee.
If you really want to work at getting to Petco, you should join the Yahoo group PETNO. It started as a campaign to keep Petco's from reneging on their promise not to sell rabbits, but has ballooned into something much bigger.
CSI was a REPEAT! argh. I can't have ANY fun anymore.
Chary, 'Clean bedding' is an oxymoron. I don't know how I could possibly think its feasible. :-)
Hey, Teresa, I am glad SOMEONE is out having fun tonight!!! You go, girl!!!
My thigh is killing me. I just tripped over a puppy exercise pen and cut myself for the impteenth time.. we use them to house our foster bunnies. I never look normal. Acne, black-and-blue marks, cracked fingertips, stringy hair.. Ah, but its all worth it, you know! :-)
I agree that if the pet stores stopped selling live animals and supporting breeders, there would be a lot less rescue pigs needing homes.
Besides the Petno group there is a petition for PETsMART to stop selling live animals:
Have a Heart, PETsMART, Stop Live Animal Sales.
I put up the same petition at my vet clinic(taped to the reception desk) for 3 months and got 261 signatures including all the clinic staff. This was close to all the clientele who went through their doors in that period.
It's a small step but if everyone who sees their vet often enough to keep tabs on the petition did this, that would be a hell of a lot of petitions with pen and ink signatures to send to PETsMART.
The internet petition reaches far more people than an individual with clipboard and pen can reach, but many animal lovers don't frequent the net. Many of these animal lovers can be found at veterinary clinics. Vet clinic clientele are people who care about animals and are willing to be financially responsible for them. They are the consumers PETsMART wants to impress and attract.
If anyone wants the petition sheets I prepared, for their vet clinic I'll get a PDF together suitable for downloading. All you need to do is get permission to put it at reception desk(bulletin boards are too easily overlooked) and check it frequently making sure there are enough empty sheets for signers and forward it to PETsMART after photocopying the original signatures for a record.
If there is interest, I will post the name of the person at PETsMART they should be directed to. (I need to make sure the info is current).
Judi, that's why I am enlisting the junior volunteers to do it for me. It's best to get them started early on their life of crime if they're going to be animal advocates.I admit to feeling like a total criminal
Para, I thought maybe you were wondering how much veggies it takes to feed 20 instead of 12 pigs, so I took a picture of a week's worth of veggies here. And, in a tribute to Teresa, I listened to "It's Raining Men!" while I was chopping them up. Hehe. Oh...too much Tequila.