As mentioned in an earlier blog post, ACR&S is suddenly inundated with baby pigs due to a recent rescue, two of which are probably pregnant, and we will then again be inundated with babies.
Baby animals of any type are both a joy and a trial. They are small, terribly cute, charming, and they draw people to them. In the case of many of the types of animals we rescue, they are also highly hyperactive, incredibly easily spooked, and can be deceptively docile towards humans. Because of the cute factor, they are also highly sought after, and screening applicants can become difficult.
Many people desire baby rabbits or guinea pigs for their children. They believe that the guinea pig or rabbit growing up with their child will give them a closer bond (much like a puppy, or a cat). In my experience, this is only marginally true. Growing up with a pint sized human in the house does tend to inure rabbits and guinea pigs to the more scary of childhood noises, and helps them learn that the small hairless monsters are roughly as harmless as the big hairless monsters.
However, on a much bigger level, most prey type animals seem to come preprogrammed with their “basic” personalities, much like a dog or a cat. Bringing home a border collie is never going to lend you that couch potato friend that you wanted to watch Scrubs with. Bringing home a “velcro”, cuddly kitten is going to guarantee that you never have the bed to yourself. And, to an extent, the personalities of many small animals are already there, but their babyhood “directives” can make it somewhat hard to evaluate them.
Over the past 6-7 months, I’ve personally dealt with 3 litters (including the ones in our house now). The first litter was an accidental litter from a shelter pig. She and her neutered husband were adopted to an unsuspecting adopter — but husband had not been neutered in time to prevent him from impregnating her one last time. The adopter was an excellent caregiver, and the pigs were spoiled rotten. She contacted us to help place the babies, and we willingly agreed. Those three pigs were Skittles, Hannah, and Fozzie. Skittles came “out of the box”, so to speak, preprogrammed to be bossy to all living things, even the ones providing food. Though she did not like being picked up and would run from “The Hand” (like most guinea pigs), she was fearless in a lap, loved to check things out, wanted to explore. Hannah was a scaled back version of Skittles. Still quite outgoing, but a little more typically “guinea pig”. She was more cautious, explored more timidly. And finally there was Fozzie.
Fozzie was always a timid pig. When brought to the couch, he would run frantically, trying to hide under anything he could find. When caught, he would freeze in place, almost as if saying one final guinea pig prayer because he was so sure he was going to be eaten. He would wail loudly for his cagemates, and was reluctant to be petted. Though he was in a very dedicated foster home who spoiled him senseless, he is still, to this day, a very shy pig. All three of those babies shared the exact same upbringing, yet had totally different personalities. Yet, to a first time pig owner, they may have appeared much the same. All of them ran around the couch, all of them screamed at the top of their lungs, and all of them ran from “The Hand”. However, the girls were running around exploring — Fozzie was running to escape. The girls were interested in talking to anyone that could hear them — Fozzie was screaming for backup.
Because of this, placing babies can become something of a trial. A lot of people who previously had very stringent requirements (for example, specifically not wanting a pig that was prone to nipping, wanting a very outgoing pig, wanting a pig that will be submissive to their established dominant pig, wanting a female rabbit to be spayed and bonded with their male, wanting a “calm” rabbit, etc) quietly forget those requirements while being sucked into the cuteness.
Because of the animal’s basic personality, I don’t really ascribe to the need to have baby animals so that they can bond. In reality, I feel that a much closer bond is made when someone picks an older, settled animal, with an established personality that is what they are looking for, and works diligently to gain that animal’s trust and love. In addition, there is much less of a worry of a child accidentally hurting a much smaller and easily spooked baby. Even in our household, baby animals are handled in containers such as baskets, because the smallest things will sometimes set them off and they’ll go skittering off laps, out of hands, and into things.
Rabbits, and their wretchedly adorable babies also pose much of the same problem. Baby rabbits instinctually snuggle. When they feed, they snuggle up to mom. That promises safety, food, and heat. Their instincts are to be snuggly, basically. Many people fall in love with this adorable, tiny, loving animal.
8-9 months later, they are living with an animal that scratches and nips them when they try to pick it up, may spray urine and defecate on floors, even if previously litter trained, may become aggressive in the cage, growling and boxing at hands, and then become destructive, destroying carpets, baseboards, and furniture. It may sound like living with a rabbit is hellish, but all of these behaviors are easily managed by spaying or neutering your pet rabbit, and with careful supervision and “bunny proofing” — much like owning a puppy or a kitten.
Yet, so many people are so startled and overwhelmed by this change to their little cuddly friends that bunny ends up looking for a new home. They can’t let bunny out any more because of it’s aggressive tendencies and destructive behavior, and it obviously becomes a problem letting a child interact with said bunny, and now bunny “doesn’t get enough attention” and is looking for a new home. Primarily for the crime of being a rabbit.
This problem is further compounded by the fact that many people end up with their first rabbit from sources which are not reputable, and may not fill them in on the ins and outs of owning a house rabbit. I was personally told by a “reputable breeder” that I recently met that rabbits do not make good house pets, and cannot be kept in the house because they’ll destroy everything and pee everywhere. Pet stores do not routinely advise customers that rabbits should be spayed and neutered.
In the end, the purpose is not to deter anyone from adopting a baby animal if they able to provide for that animal’s needs, but to look at the situation with open eyes, and make a decision based on what that animal will grow up to be, and how that animal will fit into the family for the next 5-10 years, not for the next 6 months.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. It sure seems like that happens a lot around here. We lost one Adopted, one in the Sanctuary, and one Adoptable.
We lost one our Sanctuary pigs, Strawberry, on May 15. Despite changes to her diet, she’d had two or three more episodes of bladder stones since her initial troubles in December, and this last time was too much. Her weight had steadily decreased, and the morning of the 15th she refused breakfast. We figured it was another stone and took her in, but the vet felt that she wasn’t likely to survive another surgery. He advised us to euthanize.
Strawberry was one of the first pigs born in the rescue. In 2003 we were working with another pig rescue in NC which was trying to close, and slowly transferring all its animals to us. We were asked to briefly hold a pregnant female, and the next morning she gave birth to two pups.
Her mother, aunt, father, and brother were all adopted within a few months, and a rather than keep her alone we put her with Elmer, a newly rescued neutered boar. It was love at first sight. They pursued one another around the cage, chirping loudly, till they settled into their pigloo to cuddle. After a year in the rescue with not a single adoption application, we decided to make these two our very first Sanctuary pigs.
Strawberry was very inbred, and this may have contributed to a number of the health problems she suffered over the years. She was a teddy breed, with coarse, curly hair, and as is common with this breed, needed frequent ear cleanings. She also developed two toenails which grew thickly and quickly, requiring frequent cutting. She was never a particularly friendly pig to humans, but she would eagerly beg for food, and she and Elmer always demonstrated a stronger bond than we normally see in rescue piggies.
Shortly after, we heard from one of our adopters that one of her adopted pigs had passed away in early May. Jerry was one of the Jacksonville 48, a group of pigs dumped by a breeder in summer 2005. Our dear friend Celia has adopted five of our oldest and most needy pigs over the last four years, and provides them with a great loving and caring home. Each in his time has passed over the Rainbow Bridge; like Strawberry, Jerry also died of bladder stones. The one bright note in this is that Celia is ready to adopt two more piggies to go with her last little boy Ben!
On May 25, we had to euthanize an adoptable pig, Munstrum. He came to us with as an owner surrender of a 6 pig family that resulted from a petstore advising a female and male be purchased together. He came in with a severe mite problem which was manifested as open wounds and seizures. The day before his death, he had shown some baffling symptoms, but was still eating and drinking very well. We opted to give him another day to see where his symptoms would go. On the 25th, when examined, he was noticeably worse and in severe pain. He was rushed to the e-vet, and they recommended euthanasia as his heart rate was already extremely low and they believed he was already on his way out. Cause of death at time of death is unknown, necropsy results are pending.
On the other side of the coin, we pulled four pigs and a rabbit from the shelters in the last few weeks, and are waiting on three more pigs from various sources. So overall, I guess we’re up 5:3 over Death for the month, 3 matches pending…
Since I’ve become a rescuer, I’ve found it more and more difficult to look at cute photos of animals on the internet. I constantly find myself getting upset at the poor husbandry or the rampant backyard breeding, saying things like “That’s a horrible cage” or “Oh no, they’re feeding that bunny a seed mix” or “Why on God’s earth do you have fifteen litters of rabbits right now!?!?!” I feel guilty looking at cute animals when most of them are in need of rescue, and the end result of a search for happy pictures is a very sad rescuer.
So now, for your viewing pleasure, I offer you happy rescue animal pictures instead! Every one of the pictures that displays on this page is an animal which has been rescued by ACR&S or one of the rescues & shelters we support:
Hit refresh on your browser to see a different photo!
A random photo page is also located on the ACR&S website, here.
For more wonderful rescue photos, please check out the House Rabbit Society’s Random Rescue Rabbit Photo Page!
Although up to this point we have specialized in small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits, ACR&S was incorporated first and foremost to assist other organizations in their various missions to help homeless animals.
Due to several recent rescue shutdowns, we have been approached by dedicated individuals, most of whom have years of leadership experience in rescue, but whose expertise is primarily with dogs. ACR&S is now working with them to help them rescue and place a very limited number of dogs under the ACR&S umbrella.
These dogs are almost exclusively 11th hour shelter pulls, and we expect to offer less than five dogs at a time depending on the working burden to each foster parent. The ACR&S Dog Team will continue to provide the exeptional rescue experience for which ACR&S has become known: extensive pre-adoption health care, screening of adopters according to strict adoption criteria, lifetime post-adoption education and mentoring, and a lifetime return policy/Sanctuary option for adopted animals. You can view our current list of adoptable dogs and access the dog adoption application here. For more information on the policies and procedures of the Dog Team, or for information on becoming a Dog Team foster home, please email email@example.com.
ACR&S still do NOT take owner surrenders of dogs, nor are we able to assist with shelter dog pulls on a large scale, although we will be happy to refer you to local dog-specific rescues who can be of more assistance with these matters.
Currently we have two adoptable dogs, both rescues from the Orange County SPCA:
Chewy is a 6-year-old long haired dachshund. He is a sweet boy who is still a little confused from all of the change that has happened in his life this week, but is adjusting well and loves to give kisses. He gets along well with other dogs, but has never been around children, and would therefore most likely do best in an adult-only home. He appears to have some stiffness in his back hips/legs when it’s chilly outside and will likely have a touch of arthritis in the future. He may eventually need a maintenance arthritis medication as he gets older. Chewy is neutered, fully vaccinated and microchipped.
Kaley is a 4-year-old sweetie who appears to be a mix between a small terrier and either a Lhasa or a Shih Tzu. She came into the shelter looking like a skeleton, missing tons of hair, and with badly irritated skin. From first glance, she appeared to be extremely old, but a health exam showed her to be only around 4 years of age, and the cause of her appearance was simply starvation and severe neglect.
Despite obviously having quite a rough start to life, this poor little thing is as friendly as can be and is gaining weight and personality by the day. She is not yet spayed, but will be before adoption. We are waiting until she has gained enough weight to undergo the surgery safely. We are, however, taking applications immediately.
If you would like to adopt either Chewie or Kaley, please fill out our online application form found here.