Rescues and Shelters


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 6:33 pm

I would like to take a moment, in the interest of solving this problem (and also to keep my head from spinning off like a top into space and imploding), to address the issue of the relationship between rescues and shelters.

I want the shelter workers to understand that rescues (at least the ones I know) are not inherently disdainful of them, but that this attitude may come about through prolonged aggravation with shelter procedures that frustrate our efforts to save animals.

I will illustrate this with a story.

First, forget about the fact that the 13 PHS pigs sent down to me from Teresa were initially swiped from the shelter (after the shelter had agreed to hold them for us) by a breeder/collector who already had 200 pigs and Teresa and PigPal had to chase this woman down to get the pigs back.

Also, forget about the 9 Martinez pigs who were taken by a dog/cat rescue who didn't even know what to do with them (after the shelter had agreed to hold them for us) while our volunteer was en route to pick them up, and finally we managed to track them down and send the volunteer back to get them (she was on her way out of town and turned back).

Let's forget about these two incidents. I want to talk about what happened today.

When I was at the city shelter on Thursday, I found out that they had 2 guinea pigs, a couple of 4 week old sows. I told the shelter worker (who knows me, I come there every week to feed the rabbits) that I would call her in a little while if I found a place for them. Well, I found a foster home and called back and said that I would be at the shelter today at 2:00 to pick up the guinea pigs. They said ok, we'll put a hold on them.

Well, my hearing or theirs must be going because apparently what I really asked them to do was sell the poor guinea pigs for snake food, because that is what they did with one of them in the meantime. I found this out when I came, with the foster family, to pick them up.

Not only that, but while I am waiting in line, I overhear this conversation at the window:

"I'm sorry, that guinea pig is on hold."
"No, no, the person at the desk told me that I could have it because it was only on hold by a rescue. They said anybody could have it."
"Oh, ok, I see. Let me get your name and address--"

At which point I stepped up to the window (with the already distraught fosters behind me) and politely told the man inquiring that I had the hold on the guinea pig. He held out a sick-looking, emaciated young guinea pig and said that he was looking for a friend for her. I gave him my information and told him to contact me and we would talk about it.

So in the end I had to send the frightened, lonely 4 week old sow to a foster home and a big C & C cage by herself to be quarantined for 3 weeks and why? Because I am "only a rescue." And the other choice was to let her go to someone who already had one horribly neglected guinea pig. And good news, there is one less hungry snake in the world.

Can someone tell me where the logic is in this? Four dollars is four dollars, right? Someone mentioned in another thread that shelters get calls to hold animals from people who never show up but why in God's name can't they at least give me a chance to show up?

Obviously, I'm a tad peeved. But also highly curious as to what justifies not honoring holds requested by rescues. Would shelters really rather see a baby guinea pig get eaten by a snake or sent to a crappy home than cared for by loving fosters and eventually a forever home? Or do they do it just to piss us off? Come on, I want an answer.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 6:49 pm

If they know you and you're dependable about picking them up when you say you will then they just don't care, especially if you're coming the same day. There is no excuse.

I was thinking about the same issue today when I went into the "pet supply". The owner breeds pigs and only sells a couple in the store even though no other animals are sold. I gave her the care pamhlet and talked about what I knew...two were in a small aquarium, crap in the food, etc etc. The info went in the trash. She didn't care. Same mentality in my opinion. They either don't, or don't want, to get it.

When I went to get Kringle from the shelter, a rescue had already picked him up and they wouldn't even give me her phone number. ARRRRRRRGHHH.....communication is a fine art!


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 6:56 pm

I guess somehow I have become confused about the function of shelters. They really are public facilities, designed to keep animals off the streets, not to facilitate better treatment of animals. Wishful thinking, I guess, that they would act in the best interest of the guinea pigs.


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:09 pm

I think it's sad that you make generalisations based on your experience. There are surely bad shelters, but I know of a few bad rescuers, as well.

Some shelters are better than others. Some are even great. I agree that the bad ones need to be "fixed" as it is the animals who pay the price, but I think you are being unfair to the members of this board who also work in shelters and who do a fantastic job.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:15 pm

She's frustrated at the ones who AREN'T doing a good's pretty straight forward.


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:16 pm

Hey, Pissy Holly, I don't think I was talking to you.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:27 pm

E, I realize GL is your "real big deal" and you feel some sense of control on here for whatever reason but I don't think Nicole or anyone else gives a shit who you were talking to. It is a public forum.


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:34 pm

Ohhhhhh, I'm scared, now.

Really, you should go for a jog.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:37 pm

jog? nahhhh.... I would have alot more fun using your picture as a dartboard.

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Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:14 pm

retract those claws, girls!

i'm sorry that your local shelter sucks, charybdis. are there people that work at the shelter that you do feel a connection with, that can help you to ease the tension somehow? i would also suggest that you find out which shelter workers have been pulling this shit on you, and ask them point blank why they are doing what they are doing, and what their issue with rescues is, exactly. you can ask it in a nice, nonthreatening way, so that you can get a real answer from them. couch the conversation with the tenet "we all want what's best for the animals..." and see where it leads you. good luck.

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Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:20 pm

It would be useful to know if there are written "procedures". I think some shelters have a board that set up guidelines. Might help to know what they are.


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:21 pm

Agatha, the woman who supposedly put the hold on for me, the same one who sold the pig for snake food (lying to me that she didn't know anything about it and then slipping up) is the same woman to whom I hand over a big bag of carrot tops and a garbage bag full of timothy for the rabbits every week. Let's just say, If I were E, I would call her a "two-faced, lying bitch."

Let me make it clearer that my problem is with shelter workers who do not honor holds requested by rescues.

I have several shelter volunteers on whom I rely for information and a couple of them even foster for me. These people truly care about the guinea pigs and would not have let this happen.

And yes there is a difference between shelters. Let's be even more specific--there's a difference between the city pound (which this place is) and the local humane society or no-kill shelter.

Also, to the members of the board who do work at shelters, I don't hear any of them speaking up in support. In fact, one of them (I won't name your research) has defended shelters for not honoring a rescue's request for holds.

So if I'm being unfair, where's the protest? Really, I want to hear it.
Last edited by Charybdis on Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:23 pm

Hi. I just wanted to say that I really like the shelter I volunteer at ( which you have been to Nikki), but I know there are bad ones out there. It's a shame that more shelters aren't like this particular one.

I have actually seen people turned away from getting animals so it isn't all about getting them out of the shelter ASAP and the adoption prices are reasonably high. Unfortunately I'm the one person that I know of that volunteers or works there that really knows anything about guinea pigs. Hence the reason I'd rather not leave guinea pigs there if at all possible (I like to make sure I talk to the guinea pig adopters).

There thoughts are probably that it's better to get the animals adopted than to let them go to a rescue. I'm not saying that's right or that they go about it in the right way, but every guinea pig that gets adopted means that maybe there's room for one more at the rescue. Maybe you should try talk to the local shelter about their small animal adoption process.

Please don't give up completely on shelters and the people that work there. We all know that you are doing the best you can and I think that that is absolutely wonderful. There will always be a few who slip through the cracks, but just keep trying.


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Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:26 pm

Well, what is their official policy on holds? If there isn't one, or you can't develop one, that seems to be one place to start.

Obviously, you have had some frustrating experiences (we don't doubt that). The ASPCA and pound are bureacracies and as such can be difficult to work with. I think you have to sort through the hierarchy to figure out if there is a way to make you both happy.


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:31 pm

Elizabeth, LOL and brighten my day. Guess where those fosters live--right across the street from you. I was just about to send you their phone #.

I do like your shelter. Other than the clean conditions, I like the fact that the fee is 15$ for adoptions. The OC shelter charges 4$ and Martinez charges 2$.

I certainly would not give up on shelter volunteers. Where would I be without you and Teri?


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:34 pm

Oh--Lynx, as far as I know, the official policy on holds is this: OCACC takes up to 3 holds on any animal. I assume that whomever returns first gets the animal. My feeling is that, if they're not going to distinguish between adopters and snake owners, then they should privilege the rescue's hold.

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Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:45 pm

It doesn't make any sense at all to put three holds on an animal. And I agree, if it is a shelter, you would think they would be for the best interests of the animal vs. providing snake food.

See if they have a board or something. See if you can get it changed. Your request is reasonable if they care at all about the animals.


Post   » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:56 pm

I know that The Bunny Bunch is trying to get them to raise their adoption fee. Funny thing is, I was told that they were willing to work with us.

I guess I'm just really steamed that this woman, who I trusted (and have taken pigs from before--Ruby,the blue roan, eat your heart out, E--came from that shelter), turned her back on me like that. Apparently, it really matters who you talk to.


Post   » Sun Feb 02, 2003 1:11 am

"Also, to the members of the board who do work at shelters, I don't hear any of them speaking up in support. In fact, one of them (I won't name your research) has defended shelters for not honoring a rescue's request for holds.

So if I'm being unfair, where's the protest? Really, I want to hear it."

Chary, it would seem you are insulted that I posted, why exactly I am not sure, I was mentioning general policy at some facilities not making a personal attack on you.

It would appear you think I am completely uncapable of knowing your frustrations, I know them, I do rescue ... I also work in a facility who is rescue friendly provided you are within the law. I have felt the frustrations on both sides.

I explained that holds are not allowed here, and at the time, I was under the impression they wouldn't hold at the facility you were dealing with in the prior thread, and thought perhaps it was the same reasons why we don't hold. (*The three strikes option really doesn't seem like a "hold" to me and the first to return sounds like they cannot choose who gets the animal --- possibly a discrimination issue? That's a county law/ordinance here and the reason we cannot "screen".)

Rescue is a very broad word, and a very unlevel field.
Simple fact, ANYONE can slap on a smile and say they are a rescue, do we agree here?

Without licensing of rescues, who is accountable for the goings on at the rescue? The homeowner?

Yes, there are great rescues, some okay and some downright scary. I've posted some of my thoughts here previously,

Talk to any of the rescues, no matter the "category", they're all great according to the president aren't they?

First question here is are they registered? No? Regular adoption policies apply (NOTE: the ONLY thing a rescue can do differently than a private adopter anyway, is that we can waive the adoption fee -- shots, neutering, license, etc, all apply regardless; it's law).

I have driven to a rescue on my own time after a wonderful phone conversation about a dog only to turn around before going in. On the other hand, I've also given many referrals to rescues that do a superb job. You have to realize both sides of rescue have been seen in these facilities.

Put the shoe on the other foot to see where some frustration may come in;

Do you know how many rescues call a shelter in a given week? Do you know how many ask for laws to be bent because they are a rescue? Do you know how many "rescues" are in that county already who have animals not within the law and have been that way for months? It takes 15 minutes to hand an animal to a rescue, not so quick getting them back when things go wrong.

Do you know how many will tell a bold faced lie when confronted about the unlicensed dog they've had for 3 months, not UTD, never been to the vet? ("oh, he's been here 2 weeks") Are you aware of how many folders are sitting in that facility for "rescues" who have already messed things up so bad the courts have been involved?

The bad apples have indeed spoiled the basket in a lot of places. The rescue needs to develop the relationship with the shelter. If they are dismissing you, prove them wrong Chary, take the time to show them the incredible job you are doing.

"No, no, the person at the desk told me that I could have it because it was only on hold by a rescue"

If not for the snake food, I would mention perhaps they thought you'd be pleased one found a home .... rescue = find permanent placement (I realize this is NOT the case here)

It takes many kinds to make the world go round, guinea pigs obviously aren't a priority there? Educate them, offer up care brochures for their private adoptions, let them know you are disappointed they placed them when you had a hold. You can't change what's been done already, but find out what can be done for the future to avoid these problems.

Just a side note, you may well find there are very few laws regarding "rodents" for a city/county facility to enforce, and perhaps that plays a role in how they are handled. Not making excuses, there is room for improvement everywhere.


Post   » Sun Feb 02, 2003 1:55 am

i4u, whether or not you think you are not slamming rescues, it sure looks that way to me.

The Bunny Bunch is a non-profit SPCR, well-known, well-respected, with chapters all over California. There was no reason for the shelter to doubt my credibility. They simply made a decision in the interest of expediency and then tried to cover it up.

The very idea that suspicion about the legitimacy of the rescue played a part in either of these 3 scenarios that I mentioned implied that the shelter had the animals' best interest in mind.

And, like I pointed out in my original post, I go to that shelter every week bearing food for their rabbits. So you're telling me that they suspected that the guinea pig would be better off in a snake's mouth than with me? Come on!

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