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When Rescues have inferior care to Pet Shops?

FlyAwayZephy

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I'm posting this in the Kitchen because it refers to pet stores and breeders, but please keep the discussion civil, thank you. :)

I was just thinking about this the other day when I was buying treats for my bunny at the local pet store. They do sell rabbits and guinea pigs.

What is the right thing to do, when the local rescue treats their guinea pigs poorer than the local pet store? The local rescue, while I'm sure means well, are totally uneducated on rabbits, and there's some pretty big holes in their management of guinea pigs as well.

Their guinea pigs are kept on pine bedding that smells very strongly of pine, in an interior room with no windows or ventilation. The piggies are never allowed out of their cages (except if they're being viewed by potential adopters), and the cages are the traditional, too-small cages. They are offered no fresh anything (fruits or veggies). Fed alfalfa-based pellets, ad lib.

Their rabbits are worse off. Small cages as well (which is even more serious in rabbits, since they're larger animals), and ad lib alfalfa-based pellets. Pretty much any savvy rabbit vet anywhere will tell you that's not the proper diet for an adult rabbit. Some are also kept on wire-mesh floors, another big no-no.

The pet shop has a superior management program for their guinea pigs and rabbits. Larger cages, bedded on carefresh, and taken out to play and socialize often. Fed fresh produce (romaine and small slices of fresh orange) often (not sure at what frequency, but often times when I'm there the piggies are snacking on the produce). The younger piggies get alfalfa-based pellets ad lib, the older piggies get tim-based, measured out in specific portions daily. The rabbits are on similar, age-appropriate diets, and even offer litterboxes for the bunnies should they choose to use them.

For the piggies in their care, the pet shop wins management-wise, hands down. But they are also supporting the breeding and overpopulation of piggies.

I used to donate to the rescue regularly, but now I am not so sure. Sure, they take in homeless rabbits and piggies. But they bring them into a shelter with sub-par care, and adopt out with zero screening procress for their small animals. What say you, forum folks? :confused:
 

lissie

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I would still support the rescue and not put any money into the breeding mill.

Are they rabbit and guinea pig rescue or just all kinds of animal shelters?
Have you try to politely educate them? Provide care sheet, etc.
 

Mastershroom

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Perhaps you could try to help educate the people at the rescue? Print up a page or two of basic guinea pig and rabbit care information and offer it to them. Nothing overwhelming, just some info on cage size, diet, socializing, and bedding/housing conditions. Say it's for the benefit of the animals, and after all, people want to adopt healthy, happy pigs and rabbits.
 

LifeAsItMayBe

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Do the people at the rescue know they aren't caring for the animals properly? I would assume an organization formed for the purpose of saving and rehoming animals would be open to some *polite* suggestions about proper diet and care.
 

FlyAwayZephy

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I would still support the rescue and not put any money into the breeding mill.

Are they rabbit and guinea pig rescue or just all kinds of animal shelters?
Have you try to politely educate them? Provide care sheet, etc.

I've offered help in the past, but they won't give the the time of day unless I take their 3-hour "volunteer class", that costs $30 to attend. I don't even want to volunteer, just help get them good info on their small animals. They're a rescue that takes all animals, mostly dog/cat.
 

pinky

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I'm posting this in the Kitchen because it refers to pet stores and breeders, but please keep the discussion civil, thank you. :)

I was just thinking about this the other day when I was buying treats for my bunny at the local pet store. They do sell rabbits and guinea pigs.

What is the right thing to do, when the local rescue treats their guinea pigs poorer than the local pet store? The local rescue, while I'm sure means well, are totally uneducated on rabbits, and there's some pretty big holes in their management of guinea pigs as well.

Their guinea pigs are kept on pine bedding that smells very strongly of pine, in an interior room with no windows or ventilation. The piggies are never allowed out of their cages (except if they're being viewed by potential adopters), and the cages are the traditional, too-small cages. They are offered no fresh anything (fruits or veggies). Fed alfalfa-based pellets, ad lib.

Their rabbits are worse off. Small cages as well (which is even more serious in rabbits, since they're larger animals), and ad lib alfalfa-based pellets. Pretty much any savvy rabbit vet anywhere will tell you that's not the proper diet for an adult rabbit. Some are also kept on wire-mesh floors, another big no-no.

The pet shop has a superior management program for their guinea pigs and rabbits. Larger cages, bedded on carefresh, and taken out to play and socialize often. Fed fresh produce (romaine and small slices of fresh orange) often (not sure at what frequency, but often times when I'm there the piggies are snacking on the produce). The younger piggies get alfalfa-based pellets ad lib, the older piggies get tim-based, measured out in specific portions daily. The rabbits are on similar, age-appropriate diets, and even offer litterboxes for the bunnies should they choose to use them.

For the piggies in their care, the pet shop wins management-wise, hands down. But they are also supporting the breeding and overpopulation of piggies.

I used to donate to the rescue regularly, but now I am not so sure. Sure, they take in homeless rabbits and piggies. But they bring them into a shelter with sub-par care, and adopt out with zero screening procress for their small animals. What say you, forum folks? :confused:

If you suspect animal neglect or abuse, contact the IL Dept of Agriculture and file a complaint They'll go out and investigate. I adopted one of my guinea pigs from a large rabbit rescue in IL and filed a complaint after seeing the conditions. There was no screening process, no contract and filthy conditions. It was in an old farmhouse with no a/c and reeked of ammonia. Filing a report is the only way to get help for the animals. There are reputable rescues and shelters in IL that treat their animals well. I still wouldn't buy a guinea pig from a pet store since there are too many homeless ones needing homes. I'd support the rescues and shelters that are doing their best to provide homes for animals in need, not those supporting breeders or pet mills to breed more in conditions that you can't assess.
 

FlyAwayZephy

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pinky; While their piggies/rabbits are not in optimal conditions, I doubt it would legally constitute neglect, either. The cages are cleaned regularly, they have food and water available.
 

lissie

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Since they mostly take in dogs and cats, they probably don't really know how to take care of guinea pigs and rabbits. You could print out some care guides and send to them and see how it goes from there.
 

mufasa

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No matter how bad a rescue is, you're at least not supporting the breeding cycle when you get a pet there.

As others have said, it's often a matter of simply not knowing how to care for guinea pigs. I got Borat from a humane society that primarily deals with dogs and cats. He was in a very small cage, on shavings, and eating pellets with seeds. His nails were overgrown, and they had mix-sexed him. I felt no qualms about adopting him because at least he was safe there and getting basic sustenance until he could get into a loving forever home. What if that shelter didn't take small animals at all? Goodness knows where he might have wound up, since his former owners "no longer wanted the responsibility."

If the care crosses the line into abuse, then it's definitely time to involve the authorities.
 

FlyAwayZephy

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No matter how bad a rescue is, you're at least not supporting the breeding cycle when you get a pet there.

As others have said, it's often a matter of simply not knowing how to care for guinea pigs. I got Borat from a humane society that primarily deals with dogs and cats. He was in a very small cage, on shavings, and eating pellets with seeds. His nails were overgrown, and they had mix-sexed him. I felt no qualms about adopting him because at least he was safe there and getting basic sustenance until he could get into a loving forever home. What if that shelter didn't take small animals at all? Goodness knows where he might have wound up, since his former owners "no longer wanted the responsibility."

If the care crosses the line into abuse, then it's definitely time to involve the authorities.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with that, from the "doing what's best for guinea pig welfare" standpoint. You'd rather support a rescue that had horrible living conditions (the type we speak about in piggie mills), over a pet shop with good conditions?

I guess I'm just thinking, we shouldn't generalize that rescues = good, pet shops = bad. And that there are absolutely some rescues out there not deserving of support. I'm not entirely sure the rescue I'm referring to in my original post is worthy of support, especially when I've offered to help give them info and they've declined.
 

MissJean

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I like to think of the longer-term implications of buying from a petstore. I would rather get from a rescue that is not optimal, than contribute financial means for a breeder to keep the cycle going in the first place. The rescue is still the lesser of two evils.

Also, if you're concerned and want to tackle the issues this rescue is having, you need to take a polite stance on it. Perhaps you doing the volunteering (even if you have to dish out 30 bucks) can do some good. Some people are well meaning, but haven't a clue on how to access good information. If there's specific reasoning to why the animal are kept as they are, you can work with them and see what you can do to change things. Is better bedding more expensive? Figure out a way to raise money. Is there no room for bigger cages? Think about doing foster programs.

If there's a will, there's a way. Optimism gets things done.
 

pinky

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pinky; While their piggies/rabbits are not in optimal conditions, I doubt it would legally constitute neglect, either. The cages are cleaned regularly, they have food and water available.

It's still better than buying from a pet store. I'd pass along any info that would help them understand what they can do to improve the living conditions of their animals. They probably rely on donations to run their rescue and are using what is donated. If their pine is not kiln dried and contains aromatic oils, that is a serious issue that can affect the health of their animals so you might want to email them a link that explains the danger to their animals. Feeding them an improper diet is also a concern. If they have a website that ask for donations, you might suggest that they ask for specific pellets with an explanation of why so their donations are what they need. That's what my local animal control does. I'm just curious how you know that they never feed any fruits or vegetables since you don't volunteer there? What pet store are you referring to?
 

pinky

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I'm not entirely sure I agree with that, from the "doing what's best for guinea pig welfare" standpoint. You'd rather support a rescue that had horrible living conditions (the type we speak about in piggie mills), over a pet shop with good conditions?

I guess I'm just thinking, we shouldn't generalize that rescues = good, pet shops = bad. And that there are absolutely some rescues out there not deserving of support. I'm not entirely sure the rescue I'm referring to in my original post is worthy of support, especially when I've offered to help give them info and they've declined.

Once again, if the conditions are horrible pet mill conditions, you file a report with the IL Dept of Agriculture. That's how you shut down a bad rescue...you don't support it. No one said to support a bad rescue. Buying from a pet store does not remedy the situation. There are plenty of wonderful rescues and shelters in IL.
 

Petlovr

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In my opinion, housing rabbits and guinea pigs in those conditions IS abuse. Wire cage floors damage bunny feet, and is painful. Housing GP's on non-kiln dried pine is dangerous. I would make an appointment with the director, go there, and offer info and assistance. If they refuse again, I would make it clear that failure to improve conditions will have consequences. Then, if they continue to refuse, I'd contact every rescue, shelter, and licensing board to report them and get help for the animals. I would not, however, buy from a pet store because of encouraging breeding mills.
 

pinky

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In my opinion, housing rabbits and guinea pigs in those conditions IS abuse. Wire cage floors damage bunny feet, and is painful. Housing GP's on non-kiln dried pine is dangerous. I would make an appointment with the director, go there, and offer info and assistance. If they refuse again, I would make it clear that failure to improve conditions will have consequences. Then, if they continue to refuse, I'd contact every rescue, shelter, and licensing board to report them and get help for the animals. I would not, however, buy from a pet store because of encouraging breeding mills.

In IL, the licensing board is the IL Dept of Agriculture. Contacting another rescue or shelter won't make any difference because there's nothing they can do legally. You can always take photos and contact PETA. Sometimes they'll step in when there are cases of animal abuse.
 

mufasa

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I'm not entirely sure I agree with that, from the "doing what's best for guinea pig welfare" standpoint. You'd rather support a rescue that had horrible living conditions (the type we speak about in piggie mills), over a pet shop with good conditions?
I actually didn't say what I meant with that line (No matter how bad a rescue is, you're at least not supporting the breeding cycle when you get a pet there). I didn't mean "no matter how bad," but rather that a rescue that's not taking entirely proper care of a pig is still better than a pet store as long as it's at least maintaining the pig at a minimum standard.

Although I haven't run into a really bad small animal rescue yet (didn't even know they existed till I came to this website), I've seen cat and dog rescues that were definitely worse than pet stores and that were basically abusing the animals. I know my wording was bad, so please don't think I support that sort of thing. I meant more like the place where I got Borat, that is doing some things wrong but at least is keeping the pigs in sustenance conditions rather than blatantly abusing them.
 

FlyAwayZephy

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It's still better than buying from a pet store. I'd pass along any info that would help them understand what they can do to improve the living conditions of their animals. They probably rely on donations to run their rescue and are using what is donated. If their pine is not kiln dried and contains aromatic oils, that is a serious issue that can affect the health of their animals so you might want to email them a link that explains the danger to their animals. Feeding them an improper diet is also a concern. If they have a website that ask for donations, you might suggest that they ask for specific pellets with an explanation of why so their donations are what they need. That's what my local animal control does. I'm just curious how you know that they never feed any fruits or vegetables since you don't volunteer there? What pet store are you referring to?

I don't believe they read their emails as I've emailed before with no response. Perhaps a letter instead?

I know on the feeding of produce thing because I used to drop off fresh snacks for their small animals quite often, and they said the only time they get them is if someone brings some in to donate.

The pet store is a small local one, not a chain. I'd rather not say the name as it's easily traceable to the town I live in and don't want to divulge that online. :)
 

Petlovr

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Contacting another rescue or shelter won't make any difference because there's nothing they can do legally
Around here, so many rescue people know so many others. I've been made aware of some rescues not operating up to standard, and that the rescue is being watched/investigated. So if this rescue is bad, then someone might have some info about what is being done, if anything. Also, if the rescue gets enough offers of info, or pressure to improve, it's harder to ignore. If the rescue does get investigated, the other rescues need to be prepared to handle a sudden influx if they get shut down.
 

FlyAwayZephy

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I actually didn't say what I meant with that line (No matter how bad a rescue is, you're at least not supporting the breeding cycle when you get a pet there). I didn't mean "no matter how bad," but rather that a rescue that's not taking entirely proper care of a pig is still better than a pet store as long as it's at least maintaining the pig at a minimum standard.

Although I haven't run into a really bad small animal rescue yet (didn't even know they existed till I came to this website), I've seen cat and dog rescues that were definitely worse than pet stores and that were basically abusing the animals. I know my wording was bad, so please don't think I support that sort of thing. I meant more like the place where I got Borat, that is doing some things wrong but at least is keeping the pigs in sustenance conditions rather than blatantly abusing them.

Ahh ok, gotcha. I understand what you mean now. :)
 

FlyAwayZephy

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In my opinion, housing rabbits and guinea pigs in those conditions IS abuse. Wire cage floors damage bunny feet, and is painful. Housing GP's on non-kiln dried pine is dangerous. I would make an appointment with the director, go there, and offer info and assistance. If they refuse again, I would make it clear that failure to improve conditions will have consequences. Then, if they continue to refuse, I'd contact every rescue, shelter, and licensing board to report them and get help for the animals. I would not, however, buy from a pet store because of encouraging breeding mills.

That's great in theory, but I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY doubt there would be any legal ground for reporting them. State and federal laws for animal welfare typically only cover basic shelter, food, water, and preventing physical abuse. Keeping them in sub-optimal conditions is rarely, if ever, a reportable offense.
 
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