It is proving to be a big week for intakes, which isn’t quite balancing out with the adoption slump we’ve had lately, so I think come Monday I’m going to go on another intake freeze until we can at least move some dogs.
Now, on to the newbies.
First, we recently took in a rabbit who was being kept in an extremely small cage and had been for about three years. He had poor muscle tone and overgrown nails but seems healthy otherwise, so we will soon be proceeding with his neuter and happily have a potential home already lined up where he will be a spoiled house bunny.
Next, we were asked to help with a situation involving four roosters and one hen living in unsuitable conditions. The birds were highly confined, fighting, and the poor hen was getting mounted bald and bloody. We will be setting the Roos up in individual runs, then hopefully rescuing (but I’m not above adopting or purchasing) a few girlfriends for each.
First, we just had surrendered two year-old bearded dragons who have been on an all cricket diet with no UVB and consequently are only about 6" long and have metabolic bone disease. We will be doing our best to improve their health, but time is going to determine if they will end up having an acceptable quality of life.
Next, we have a four week old kitten brought to our vet office on deaths door suffering with coccidia and a flea infestation. This is the second kitten in such condition we’ve taken in recently; the first was too far gone, but this baby is a fighter and is so far feeding well and improved.
The Florida Fiasco has begun! Of course, by Florida Fiasco we mean a large intake of 150+ syrian hamsters are traveling to The Pipsqueakery Friday!
On Monday, May 22nd, a man brought 75+ hamsters to a shelter in Florida. He said that he had a lot of hamsters at home but he couldn’t afford the surrender fee for all of them. The shelter said that if he brought all of the hamsters in the next day the surrender fee would be waived. Shortly after the intake an employee of the shelter contacted us asking for help and even agreed to drive the hamsters to us. That afternoon I also spoke with the director of the shelter and offered our assistance officially. Unfortunately, by then some had been euthanized because most shelters simply aren’t equipped to handle an intake that large. We knew that we had to act quickly to save the rest of the hamsters.
The next day, the man brought another 75+ hamsters to the shelter. At this point we had not yet worked out a transfer arrangement and the unfortunate reality was that shelters have to make tough choices so some from this group were also euthanized.
Today, we reached an agreement with the director to transfer the remaining hamsters to us. Their employee is willing to do the driving and we are willing to pay the costs of the transport.
Now, it’s time for us to start fundraising. We need help to cover the cost of bedding, food, veterinary care, a few chew toys, the inevitably destroyed water bottles, and transport costs. I know the goal of $10,000 seems high, but it comes out to us spending approximately $100 to save each hamster. Of course, many hamsters will not require extra care so they won’t be that expensive to rescue, but some hamsters will likely need veterinary care and even surgery to get to become adoptable.
Please help us save the Florida Fiasco hamsters by making a donation at GoFundMe.com/The-Florida-Hamster-Fiasco, donating supplies from our Amazon wishlist at http://a.co/fEKocKc, or going to thepipsqueakery.org/help to find other ways to help.
Thank you so much to the lovely people at the shelter and thank you to all our wonderful supporters. Please share this post everywhere! #hamster #rescue
Today is apparently World Turtle Day, so I thought I’d share one of my turtles, Patches the Mississippi map turtle. Like most of my turtles, Patches is a rescue, and came from a situation where she was being housed inappropriately- no heat or UVB, which resulted in widespread damage to her shell.
Turtles are the most surrendered reptile at ACS as well as the most often surrendered in poor condition and in need of veterinary intervention. I would posit that the average person should not own a turtle but should instead enjoy them from afar by observing them in nature or at conservation geared captive facilities. You can love something without owning it, but you can’t truly love something by owning it incorrectly.
People sometimes ask why I am so aggressively pro spay/neuter and against free-roaming where cats are concerned. Here is one little reason.
This kitten was so emaciated and dehydrated at 3 weeks old that he weighed less than a newborn. He was so full of fleas he was dangerously anemic. His brother was already dead when he was brought to me. After 24 hours of suffering as he struggled to survive, this kitten followed suit.
Mama cat abandoned these babies. Maybe it was her first litter, maybe it was something wrong with them or her. Either way, rescue came too late for them.
Every single free roaming intact cat in the US is either owned or the descendent of an animal that was owned. That means every single kitten born outdoors to a non-deliberate breeding has a human to blame for its existence, either directly or indirectly. Every unintentional kitten is the result of irresponsible husbandry, namely: allowing intact domesticated animals to freely roam and breed.
Not to give in to emotionality, but given the emotional nature of watching kittens die: if you allow your intact cat to free roam, you should not be an animal owner, as you are directly complicit in the overpopulation of cats in the US, with all of the negatives that accompany it, from euthanasia to the ones who don’t die so lucky.
While I would caution to not get into the mindset of considering any type of parrot - even the little, common kinds - a “beginner” bird, I would say that budgies are more even-tempered and easily tamed than cockatiels in my experience.
Regardless of which you get, you must expect a high level of commitment to socialization, daily interaction, space, enrichment, diet, and vet care. A budgie or cockatiel is every bit as much a parrot as a larger species in terms of needs.
I would also suggest, if you read through some of the posts on this blog on parrots and the ethics of keeping them, domesticated birds like doves/pigeons or small chicken breeds as a good first bird. While they aren’t as popular for pets, they can make excellent companions without being quite as demanding as a parrot.
Regardless of what you go with, may I suggest Avian Avenue as a good online resource? You may be able to find an adoptable bird locally through the site, and it has plenty of spot on advice for beginners.
Forgive me if I’ve already shared this photo but this is just my favorite photo of Zap. He’s focusing so hard trying to be a good boy but he is just not a very good boy.
Zap was rescued from Bibb County Pound coming up on three years ago where he was surrendered with an embedded shock collar. The pound could not afford to have it treated by a vet, and because he was a HW+ bully breed mix with a degree of kennel aggression, he wound up on the euthanasia list. I couldn’t bear the thought of this dog, who was only a little over a year old at the time and had spent his enter life chained, knowing only confinement and pain, so I begged a local rescue to take him in if I fostered.
Zap unfortunately has a few “character flaws” that have not resolved despite very hard work on our part. One of his biggest issues is that he is very distractable and very high arousal; virtually everything gets him overstimulated, and he becomes loud and rough and difficult to manage. He also learned at some point at the shelter that he could piss OUT of his crate to avoid sitting in a soiled kennel, so attempts to crate train him have mostly resulted in a soggy floor as he’ll lift his leg whenever he sees fit. He has made some behavioral improvements and strides in basic obedience, but most people just aren’t looking for a generic brown pit mix with an imperfect character, so he hasn’t had a lick of interest in three years.
On the second anniversary of him living with us, I reluctantly decided that Zap was my dog whether I wanted him or not, and since then we’ve been working on integrating him into our group of dogs. It is a slow process because Zap gets worked up so easily, and when he does, he gets very rough in his play - which the other dogs respond to unfavorably, resulting in fights. We are trying a few different things to modify his behavior and hope that he’ll soon be “part of the pack.”
Male Anhinga at Limestone Park in Alabaster, AL. There is currently a pair there and the male has been showing off by sunning on this log almost daily. Great little place to go bird watching here in central Alabama.
Okay, I’m calling it. Efram is officially my dog. We’ve had him in foster for two going on three years, he is now a 7-9 years old hound (which unless young and intact and trained to hunt are super undesirable in the south), and we just learned that he has bad kidneys, probably from a combination of age and the rigors of heartworm treatment. He is a loud-as-hell fence hopper who can’t hold his bladder well. The one good thing about him is he’s super chill with other dogs, so my dogs like him. So unless an angel descends from the heavens and says, “Yes, give me your old crappy sick obnoxious hound!” I will be keeping him.
Pet ownership online is extremely glorified, every time you see a goofy little pet your initial instinct is to scream “I want one!” because it’s cute and doesn’t seem that difficult to care for.
What is posted on Tumblr and other networks does not accurately display what it’s like really working with these animals on a daily basis.
Here’s a few personal examples:
Online: “All the birds online do this, it must be a common behaviour, they all must love it! I want a bird so I can do this!”
Reality: Months of refusing human contact, seldom wanting to be around people, every moment of my free time spent training and working to create a positive bond where she would then allow me to do this, not all birds like being touched, there’s never a guarantee they would learn to like it
Online: “Wow this is neat, I want a bird so I can do this, I would look really cool!”
Reality: Years of setting up a good diet, years of basic training, years of trust building, her refusing to cooperate, lack of training interest, struggling to get her back on track, months of learning the concept, making sure the right muscles develop properly, feeding a diet to help muscle development, training her so she flies correctly without harming herself, gaining her confidence so she takes off on her own,
Online: “I want a bird so I can take it out for walks and show off!”
Reality: Months of getting used to the harness, learning to put on the harness, learning to be comfortable with the harness on, getting her used to the outdoors, climate adjustments, watching her behaviours, making sure every outdoor experience is a good one, months of recall training and trust building so if something goes wrong there’s a better chance of her coming back.
Online: “Aw they’re so cute I want them!”
Reality: Introducing them properly, making every encounter positive, weeks of quarantine, making sure they get used to each-other over the course of a few months, setting up multiple food bowls, eliminating aggression that occurred, spending a lot of time trying to figure out what they’re fighting over, solving the problems, there’s no guarantee two birds will ever get along
Online: “wow what a pretty blue! I want a blue bird, it’s such a cool colour!”
Reality: Trying to set up a proper diet, refusing to eat vegetables, developing fatty liver disease, feather pigmentation faded, spent several months trying to convert her on to a fresh food diet, running out of ways to serve foods so she’ll eat it, finally converting her, struggling to convert her on to pellets, spending every single present day working to feed this picky eater, spending hours preparing meals just so she will be healthy
Online: “wow those feather sure are pretty! I want a bird to be flighted so it can fly to me on command!”
Reality: Years of proper training, setting her up on the right path, making sure to exercise certain muscles so she can control her flight, bird proofing the entire house, having loads of safety precautions put in place, doing training to exercise her brain so the reactions develop properly, putting obstacles in the way so she learns to maneuver, flight training so she has the strength to fly against winds if she ever escapes, recall training in case anything goes wrong, working to build confidence in her flight abilities, daily flight sessions so she continues to build muscle.
That doesn’t even include all the cage cleaning, expenses, socialization, stimulation and day to day care these little birds need.
Almost everything online is glorified to some extent, if you see something you think is cute or that you would like one in the future please research it! Get hands on experience and learn about them, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes that you may think.
Adding to this, as it applies to pretty much everything despite being heavily parrot-centric.
My current close, loving relationship with my Service Pigeon involved MONTHS of not getting to touch him, despite having bottle raised him.
The most important thing you have to get across to an animal you want a relationship with is that YOU ARE LISTENING! That you will respect their attempts to comunicate with you.
Ankhou told me no a LOT! He didn’t want me to touch him. He didn’t want my company. I had made myself scary by being clingy while he was growing into and trying to explore independence
And it wasn’t until he was absolutely certain that I respected his expressions of discomfort that he was happy to be in close contact again.
Playing with babies is the most fun part of my job as a breeder, but it is a TINY percentage of the work I actually have to do!
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I spend HOURS cleaning 3 rooms and 15-26 cages, depending on how many birds there are in quarantine.
ALL new birds stay at least a month in Quarantine, where they are medically evaluated for parasites and disease.
Birds in quarantine see the vet an average of twice a month, and can end up staying for ¼-1/3 of a YEAR before being cleared to join the flock.
Meds for pain, worms, protozoans, and bacterial infection need to constantly remain on hand, as well as topical drench for external parisites.
And my followers have seen the behind the scenes heart break of dealing with emergencies that just go hand in hand with pigeon rehab, as well as what can go wrong with something as benign as bringing home a new pet.
Oh my God, guys, there is SO much work to bring y'all all this pics of cute babies!
This applies to basically every other pet, especially “exotic” pets.
One of the reasons why the pet pig abandonment epidemic is so bad right now is because people don’t know just how much time, training, dietary considerations, company, and outdoor space that a pig needs in order to be physically and mentally healthy. Most of the time they just see a picture/video of a cute little piglet, go “I want one,” and impulse buy it from a shady backyard breeder. The breeder’s promises that they’ll never grow over fifteen pounds and that “they’re just like dogs” inevitably don’t pan out when the pig starts getting destructive, throws temper tantrums, constantly forages for food, and starts getting aggressive towards its owners/guests because they were removed from their mother too early to be socialized and have been trained to view humans as scary threats who will pick them up or forcibly restrain them at random for no reason.
Most suburban families looking for a fancy dog aren’t willing to give the pig the time, training, and space they need to become properly socialized and well-behaved. Is it any wonder why most pigs are given up before they’re two years old?
Excellent post, and to me, this applies to all animals including dogs and cats. People often comment, “oh, I’d love to be able to have so many dogs!” to me without considering the countless thousands I pay in vet bills and preventives; the time and energy to keep them just fed, cleaned, and exercised; the personal risks of working with and integrating large numbers of large dogs with behavioral issues; the effort to train them to just be tolerable, forget obedience pros, etc. Trust me, it IS NOT all fun and games and most people - and dogs - are probably better off in a household with fewer dogs.
As a case in point, I spent six months working with Badger to get her to where I could leash her, stand near her while she eats, and have her approach and greet me. Boarding her for one week completely unraveled all of our progress AND added some new issues. Imagine dealing with just a dog with severe fear aggression, dog reactivity, and major resource guarding (all resources including space, food, water, and toys). Now add the care of another seven special behavioral and/or medical needs dogs to that. Having fun yet?
I re blogged to the wrong account again. Posting here for truthiness. And to add and reiterate: you get out of animals what you put in to them. Anyone posting their well trained, well socialized, happy, healthy pet - be it a common cat or an exotic animal - has gotten there through WORK. If you don’t want to put in the effort, don’t expect the return.
Did you know that Whimzees are a safe chew for hamsters? As long as the XS or XXS is given and, as with all new foods, bowel habits are monitored, these make a healthy treat that entertains and benefits dental health. Here is Baymax enjoying an XS, which is bigger than I normally give my dwarf hamsters, but I’m out of XXS.