Retail Rescues

Posted: June 16, 2012 in Helpful Advice
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Ever hear the phrase “you break it, you buy it”? Well, to some people, even when it comes to animals that rule just doesn’t seem to apply. Many people start their children out on small animals as their first pets. Unfortunately some do not make sure their children are mature enough or bother to teach them how to properly handle these animals first. This can lead to animals being dropped or played with too roughly, resulting in them becoming badly injured. In some cases, the people who brought the poor animal into their home decide they no longer want it and return it to the store. But what happens to these “broken” pets once they’ve been returned into the world of retail, where everything revolves around making a dollar as quickly as possible? We caught up with one big-hearted woman who told us the facts and what she did to help some of those hurt animals.
MiCritterChitter: What do places like the one you worked for do when animals are brought back in such rough shape?
They can’t be re-sold, so they are put in the backroom until they can be sent back to the original seller. From there I am not sure, but I doubt anything good for the animal comes from it. Where I worked though they were nice enough to let me buy the animals for a dollar or two (they can’t just give them away) and I would take them home to see what I could do for them and give the animals a loving home. A lot of the times they would save animals that had been injured for me since they knew I’d take them.
MCC: Sadly, a lot of people are not willing to give handicapped animals a chance, so what inspired you to go out of your way to make sure these animals were able to get a second chance at life?
I was raised around animals and have always loved animals. They’re living creatures, just because they have special needs does not mean they should be thrown away or killed. They needed help. I would do it for a person, or an animal. Just because it is an animal, doesn’t mean it isn’t a life worth saving.
MCC: What advice do you have for people considering adopting handicapped animals?
Long story short, do your homework. If there are medical needs find out the costs, because if you get the animal and you’re not prepared, the animal can end up right back at square one. That can often happen. People have big hearts and want to help, but making sure you CAN help in the way that the animal needs before you get it is very important.
MCC: What were some of the animals like that you brought home?
They were mostly rodents. I brought home a few partially paralyzed guinea pigs that could only use their front legs to move around, but they ended up having great lives anyway. One of our female dogs spoiled them with affection. She thought they were her puppies.
Another was an adorable, white hamster who had been born with no eyes. His eyelids were always closed, and no one had noticed it at first when he was brought in with the other hamsters. I kept noticing that no one would buy him. He always shied away when people stuck their hands in, but after talking to him and sticking my hand in for him to smell he got used to me. They were going to send him back, but I bought him and he was a wonderful addition to our family. He could not see, but that did not stop him from living a full life. He had everything neatly organized in his cage at all times and was a friendly little guy, never biting anyone.
One of the others was a parakeet that had been returned to the store with a broken wing. I brought him home and it took a while, but his wing healed and he was able to fly again.
Unfortunately some of the animals were so badly injured that they did not make it long. Some would only live for a day or two, and even though I knew they didn’t have much time left I couldn’t just leave them there. I really do think each of the animals I brought home were able to sense that I was trying to help them. It was worth all the effort. Even if the animals were hurt so badly that they only had one day left, those animals spent their last day in a home with love and care instead of being alone in a dark room in the back of some store. Every living creature deserves to feel loved, even if it is only for the short bit of time it has left. Animals aren’t just objects you play with, break, and throw away. They’re living creatures that deserve more than that.
MCC: How did your family react to you bringing home these animals?
Open-heartedly. They were perfectly fine with it. I was brought up to help animals, and I’ve raised my daughter to do the same. Fortunately my husband is also a big softie for animals as well.
MCC: What advice would you give people getting their young children their first pets to prevent more unnecessary injuries to little animals?
Most importantly, take the time to teach them about holding animals properly.
A lot of the time kids have their hands in food and other things without washing them before they pick up animals like rodents. That is the first way to get bit.
People tend to think smaller equals better when it comes to getting their kid their first pet. I’ve seen so many people buy dwarf hamsters for their little children and bring them back when they’ve bitten their child. Some people may be put off by rats, but they really do make great first pets for children since they generally bite far less often than hamsters do.
Also, when your child is learning to hold small animals have them SIT DOWN. If the child loses their grip on a squirming animal and is standing that can be a long drop to a very hard floor. A lot of damage can happen. That is exactly what happened to a lot of the animals I saw returned. Have them sit on the couch or on the floor so if there is a tumble, it is much safer for the pet.
When you first get a pet, teach your child not to just stick their hand in the cage to grab it. Let the animal know you are there so you don’t spook it. Speaking to their pet and having it’s attention before they reach in for it is one way they can avoid being bitten. A lot of the times when a child is bitten their first instinct is to drop the animal.
Before buying a pet, do your research and make sure it is appropriate for your child. Also, if your kid is old enough for a pet, they are old enough for the responsibility that come along with it. Small animals can get dehydrated easily and always need fresh, clean water. Making sure their cage is always clean is important for their pet’s health as well.
By taking a little bit of time to make sure your child knows how to handle animals gently and responsibly you can assure the safety of both your child and their pet.
Sootie aka Mama Pug with one of the injured/returned guinea pigs.

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