Sunday, December 16, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Hi everyone!  Sorry we haven't blogged in a while!  We've all been quite busy!  I just wanted to post an update for our Home for the Holidays campaign and let you all know about some of our holiday needs.

Home for the Holidays
Our biggest news is that we only have a couple of weeks left in our Home for the Holidays campaign.  Our hope is to find some of our "less adoptable" pets a home of their very own for the holidays.  All of the critters included in this promotion are wonderful animals - they just get overlooked!  We have "plain" colored bunnies, bunnies with red eyes, rats, ALL of our male guinea pigs (everyone seems to pass them over in favor of the girls!), and the little hamsters and gerbils that haven't gotten much attention.


What do you get if you adopt one of our Home for the Holidays pets?  They will all come with starter supplies - the bunnies and guinea pigs will come with items such as a food dish, water bottle, fleece blanket, pigloo (for the piggies), litter pan (for the bunnies), and a start up supply of pellets and hay.

Our little gerbils and hamsters will come complete with everything you need to take your new friend home.  You will get a cage, wheel, water bottle, hidey house, food dish, and a start up supply of bedding and food.  Rats will also come with everything you need for your new furry friends.
Gerbil Home for the Holidays package
The animals included in this campaign are:
Bunnies --
  1. Hershey - "plain" brown and doesn't like change.  Will warm up once he gets used to things!
  2. Anibel - timid
  3. Chester - "plain" brown.  Has not received ANY inquiries.
  4. Barnabus - "plain" black
  5. Ian - Red-eye white (REW).  He has LOTS of energy!
  6. Bugzy - red eyes
  7. Fernando - "plain" brown and older (6 years).  He still has many more years!
  8. Stormy - red eyes
  9. Summer - she's a big girl.  
  10. Zaida - she needs a calm and understanding household. She's had a rough life.
  11. Levi & Lacey - very timid bonded pair
ALL of our male guinea pigs.  We don't know why, but they keep getting overlooked in favor of our females!

ALL of our rats.  Many people think rats are "icky".  They are intelligent, incredible, and loving pets.  Give them a chance!

ALL of our hamsters and gerbils!

Click here to see an album of all of our Home for the Holidays adoptables. 

Click here to fill out an adoption questionnaire.

One of the lucky hamsters that went home for the holidays already!
In other news...
As per usual, we have an overabundance of foster animals.  As with any animal rescue, our needs are great.  We certainly appreciate ANY donations and volunteer work.  This rescue is a work of love, and is mostly funded out of our volunteers' own pockets.  Our animals will be cared for no matter what, but any help will lift some of the burden!

So how can I help?
We have a large need for volunteers.  Here is a list of locations and volunteer opportunities:
  1. Very soon, we will be needing a number of volunteers to help out at our new facility in Dover.  Can you help out with cleaning cages, feeding/watering, and socializing animals?
  2. Can you transport animals?  We often need transport in the Tampa/St. Pete area (and sometimes to/from other places like Port Charlotte)
  3. Brandon - we regularly hold events at the Brandon Petco.  Can you help out with these events?  We need people on hand to help set up/break down and to wrangle animals (and keep an eye on them with all the members of the public milling around).  Are you bunny/guinea pig knowledgeable?  You can help answer questions (we will want to talk to you first to gauge your level of expertise)
  4. Port Charlotte - we house a foster bunny at the Port Charlotte Petco location and are DESPERATE for more volunteers.  One of our board members is currently the only Port Charlotte Petco volunteer, and is only able to get over there about once a week.  Petco volunteers socialize with the bunny (Petco will let you use one of the x-pens from the puppy section to let the bun out in - you can bring an old sheet to contain any wayward poos), and it would be a huge help to have others bring in bunny-appropriate veggies (washed and ready-to-eat)
  5. Foster homes - can you foster any animals?  We can particularly use bunny foster homes.  We have several bunnies who could really use one-on-one attention.  We can set you up with a pen, litter box, food/water dishes, and toys.
I live to far away to volunteer - how can I help?
We realize finances are tight for everyone, but if you are able to donate, we would be forever grateful.  We are always happy to receive monetary donations, but are also pleased to receive direct donations of goods.  We are always in need of hay and pellets (plain bunny & piggy pellets - Oxbow, Sweet Meadow, Zupreem).  Supplies such as x-pens, fleece blankets, storage cubes, coroplast, toys, litter boxes, litter (Carefresh, Equine pine, etc), cleaning supplies, and food/water dishes are always welcome.  For the rest of our wishlist and for instructions on donating directly to our vet for medical expenses, click here.

An easy way to send a donation is to visit our Amazon wishlist - you can help make the shelter animals' holidays just a bit brighter!

Want to send our piggies a nice, cozy bed?  Visit the Cozy Cavy to donate a piggy bed to the rescue.

Because piggies like to be cozy :)
We realize that times are tough, so we appreciate any donations SO very much!  Thank you!




We would also like to mention some other places that can use volunteers.  The Tampa Bay SPCA in Largo currently has a large amount of rabbits, and could certainly use volunteers.  If you live in the Port Charlotte/Englewood area, Suncoast Humane Society is another organization that could use volunteers.  They mainly focus on dogs and cats, but sometimes have small critters (we pull from them when we can).  Volunteering for a rescue organization is a wonderful way to give to the animals.

Thank you for your time, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Adoption Process

We often get asked questions about our adoption process.

How long does it take?  
Does it matter if I've never had a bunny/piggy before?  
What sort of questions do I need to answer?

Well, I am about to give you an insider's look at our end of the adoption process, and I will give you some tips for facilitating the adoption process!

Every day, the rescue receives lots of emails and messages.  We get inquiries via Petfinder, our email on our website, adoption questionnaires, and messages/comments on Facebook.  A great many of them are messages looking to surrender animals (we are currently closed to surrenders).  Some are adoption inquiries.  We also receive questions about animal care, vet recommendations, and behavioral issues.  With only a handful of us to answer these, it can get a little overwhelming sometimes!  We do our best to respond in a timely manner, but we do all have our own lives to deal with as well.  Adoption hint: If you don't hear back from us within a few days, please send us a polite message to ask if we received your inquiry.

We receive all manner of crazy emails and requests.  Just when we think we've heard it all, something else comes along that leaves us scratching our heads!  Sometimes people include notes with the adoption questionnaire telling us that they think a particular question is ridiculous (this does not give us a good first impression).  Believe me, we have our reasons for asking each and every question!  We get the occasional "My grandson's 4th birthday is tomorrow, and I need a bunny by 2pm!" (Needless to say, this request will be denied).  We've had volunteers cursed at because we do NOT adopt unaltered rabbits out for breeding purposes.  We've had volunteers yelled at because we do not do unapproved on-site adoptions.  We've been told that keeping an angora on anything but wire will "ruin his fur" (she wanted to adopt him to spin his fur - she was denied).  I've had someone call and say, "I want a bunny for my one year-old.  He's really good with animals."  Your one year-old may be more gentle than most, but he is still one!  We are certainly not opposed to adopting to a family with a one year-old, but we will not adopt out a pet as a pet for a one year-old.  We also have people call the rescue line in the middle of the night, or call/text the rescue line 20 times in a row.  Adoption hint: Calling/texting the rescue line over and over will not get you an answer any faster!

We also tend to cringe a bit when someone writes in with an incredibly specific animal in mind.

I'm looking for a baby bunny with lop ears that won't get any bigger than 3 pounds and is white with a brown patch on the nose that likes to cuddle and be held.

We understand that people gravitate toward certain animals.  I myself am a sucker for lop bunnies and long-haired piggies.  I do, however, love all types of these critters!  I have a lop bunny, an uppy-ear bunny, a long-haired piggy, a short-haired piggy, and an Abyssinian piggy.  We will certainly do our best to match you with an animal that you love, but it is very helpful for you to keep an open mind.  Personality is what matters most - not looks.  Adoption hint:  Check out our Petfinder page before filling out an adoption questionnaire to see our adoptable animals.  We try to include personality descriptions - so be sure to read those!  On top of everything, keep an open mind.  Maybe you wanted a lop, mini-rex, etc., but will fall in love with someone different!  It helps us if you can pick out 1 or 2 adoptable animals to meet.  It can be overwhelming choosing between too many - we can help suggest possible matches! 


Okay, so you've looked at Petfinder and filled out an adoption questionnaire.  What comes next?  Well, on our end, we receive the questionnaire (or email/FB message), and one of us will respond to it.  If you send us a message on Facebook, we will most likely direct you to fill out our adoption questionnaire.  Right now there are 3 of us who regularly answer inquiries, but we are in the process of training a couple more volunteers as adoption counselors.  What comes next really depends on what you have sent us.  The more information you give us, the easier it is on our end!  We can gauge how much you know/don't know about the care of the animal you are inquiring about (it's okay if you don't know much yet - that's what we're here for!)

Each of us has a general response template that we use to respond.  Our job is to make sure that you know what you're getting into as far as pet ownership and to make sure that you will care for the animal you plan on adopting according to our standards.  If you already know and meet our standards, then the adoption process will go very quickly!  If you need some education, it will take a little longer.

Adoption hint:  Follow these guidelines before and during the adoption process -- 
  1. Do your research beforehand.  This makes a huge difference.  Remember, even if you had bunnies/piggies/other critters growing up, the care standards may have changed from what you remember.  We will not adopt to outdoor homes, homes that will provide less than adequate housing, or improper diet.
    1. Rabbit care guidelines:  http://www.rabbit.org
    2. Guinea pig housing:   http://www.guineapigcages.com/
    3. Guinea pig care guidelines:  http://www.cavymadness.com/care/index.html
    4. Hamster care guidelines:   http://www.hamsterific.com/
  2. Listen to us.  Getting offended when we tell you that you have the wrong cage or the wrong pellets won't get anybody anywhere.  The best thing you can do is have an open dialogue with us.  We are happy to give you the reason why a particular cage/diet/etc aren't acceptable.  We aren't accusing you - we just want our animals to go to the healthiest homes possible.
  3. Ask questions.  We are more than happy to answer questions - especially if you are new to the world of small animals!
  4. Give us as much information as possible to start.  Please be specific - this helps so much.  Instead of saying you'll feed your guinea pig pellets, tell us you plan to feed your guinea pig "Zupreem timothy pellets".  Instead of saying you already have a cage, tell us "I have such and such brand cage, and its dimensions are ___"x___".  Photos are a huge help!  Don't skip questions.  If you rent, we need to know your landlord's number so we can check to see if pets are allowed.  There is a reason for each question we ask.
  5. Answer our questions.  If we ask you a particular question, please answer it.  I recently had someone inquire about an animal.  I sent her a list of questions, as she had given me very little information to go on.  Instead of answering my questions, this person merely sent me an email - in capital letters - demanding to know whether I was allowing her to adopt the animal.  Take that as a "what not to do"!
I hope this gives potential adoptive families a perspective on what we go through, why we ask questions, and why we can't do adoptions immediately.  I also hope this helps as a guide to make the adoption process a bit easier!  We realize that going through the process can take time and effort, but our thinking is that if you're not willing to go through the initial effort, then pet ownership may not be for you.  In the end, our first concern is that our animals (many of whom have already been through so much) go to the best homes possible.  Will you be one of those amazing homes?

Or guinea pig, hamster, gerbil, ferret...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saving Money Without Compromising Quality Care



Special thanks to Amber for contributing this blog post!
 
The cost of adding a pet to the family can seem daunting. Below are some tips we here at 4 Lil Pigs n Buns have found to help with the cost of keeping our furry pets - and our wallets - happy. 

Cages:
For very small critters such as hamsters, gerbils, mice or rats, you can commonly find an abundance of very well priced cages on Craigslist. If you can’t find one you like, try asking friends and family. I have found most of my family (especially those with children) have an old cage or two in the garage or shed. Homemade cages can also give tons of room while being quite easy and cheap to make.
For guinea pigs or bunnies, ask around with your friends whose puppies have grown up. They may just have an extra exercise pen or two hanging around.
If you wan to go the C&C cage route, I have found lots of the cubes for sale at yard sales and on the internet right as school is letting out for the summer and college kids no longer need them. The coroplast can usually be obtained for free after any election. Just ask around with your neighbors with yard signs to see if you can take them off their hands. The parties may also have extra signs they are looking to get rid of.
Animal carriers are far too overpriced! A tall plastic storage bin without the lid usually works just as well, but if you have a high jumper, or would just like a commercial carrier, they can usually be found very cheaply at thrift stores, yard sales or even on the side of the road for free.  

This carrier cost me $5.26 at the thrift store. A pet store would charge you at least triple that!

Cage Necessities:
Food and water bowls need to be of good quality. If you buy one that is plastic or too light weight, it will cause big problems when your pet decides to play by flinging it, or accidently tips it over, making a huge mess. But heavy duty bowls at pet store are pricey and most are themed for dogs and cats. A great solution is to stop into your local thrift store and check out the selection. All bowls I have bought from Goodwill have been under $3. The best part is I can always find a wide variety to match my d├ęcor.
 
Veggie bowls bought at Goodwill for just over $1 each  
XL brown bowl bought at Goodwill for $3
 I also scour outlet stores. Most have an even further discounted section where they have pieces to sets that have no match. The discount sections of your favorite big stores such as Target are a great place to look as well. They usually have various holiday themed bowls and small rugs at great prices, especially after that season is over.
Litter pans can get pricey. A nice, large box at a pet shop can make you do a double take. If you have an old plastic bottom cage, it would make a fantastic large litter box. If not, a large plastic storage bin with a low lip can be used. If you have a larger big laying around you want to use instead, a simple circle cut in the side makes it a great litter pan that keeps the mess in and the cage nice and neat.
Litter can be purchased in bulk. Just ask for compressed wood bedding for horse stalls at any farm supply store.

This 40lb bag cost me the same amount as a 7lb bag at the pet store!
Looking to get a hay rack? A bent grid works great and you probably already have one laying around! Old cardboard boxes also work great.

Food:
The one thing you never, ever want to skimp on is quality food. Places like Walmart or Publix just don’t have quality pellets. It may cost a little more, but it is worth it for the health and happiness of your pet.
Hay can be bought in bulk by the bale or half bale at most farm supply stores. Remember to ask to see the hay first to be sure it is good quality. If you prefer buying your hay online, sign up for a few company’s newsletters or ‘like’ them on Facebook so you can keep up to date on their sales.
The price of veggies can really add up. To save major bucks, look into your local farmer’s markets and produce stands, remember to haggle if you are buying large amounts! You can also sign up for services where veggies will be delivered to you on a schedule for a set price (though with this option you usually will not know what you will be getting).

Toys:
Our small fuzzies tend to be rough on their toys, and most don’t last past a week. So why pay a fortune for something that will be gone in the blink of an eye? Simple things like toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes and old wrapping paper/newspaper are all free and enjoyed just as much as those high priced toys!
Another great source of free play things are old children’s toys. If you don’t have any, ask any friend or relative with small kids. They will probably be happy to get rid of them! Stuffed animals, plastic baby toys, tents, tunnels and play mats are all great items that make a leap from baby toy to critter toy.

All of the toys and such here, including the pen, were from friends with children who grew out of them.
Blankets and towels can usually be picked up for free as well. Usually something as simple as making a post about it on Facebook will get you all you need and more!
Want a cute little cat toy ball or small fleece blankie? Pick some up at your local Dollar Tree for just a buck!

Vet care:
Have multiple pets? Ask your vet if you can bring them all in at once and only get charged one office visit fee. If you are looking for basic services like vaccines or getting your pet fixed, check out your local low cost or not for profit clinic. 

Let us not forget the biggest cost saver of adding a new furry friend: Adoption! Spays and neuters, health exams and vaccines will have already been preformed, saving you tons of cash. 

If you are looking to save even more, check out 4 Lil Pigs n Buns’ reduced adoptions fees through the end of September!

Come join us this Saturday, September 29th, from 10am to 1pm at the Brandon Petco!  If you are pre-approved to adopt, you can come meet your possible furry forever friend!  This is the LAST weekend for our reduced adoption rates!   And anyone can come by to ask us questions about bunny, guinea pig, or small furry critter care and meet the animals.  We hope to see you there, and donations are ALWAYS appreciated!  We especially need donations of hay right now.  Thank you!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Tales (Why We Do What We Do)

People often ask us, "Why do you do this?  It's so much work.  Surely you must get tired of it!"

Well, the truth is, we do get tired of it.  It is difficult to get one dump request after another.  It can be exhausting keeping up with emails and phone calls.  We have our own animals and foster animals to take care of.  We spend a lot of money out of our own pockets to keep the rescue running.  We all do this on a volunteer basis.  It can be hard to balance our personal lives with rescue work.

So what keeps us going?  Why do we do it?  YOU - the adopters.  The forever homes.  Seeing an animal adopted out into a loving home is the ultimate reward.  That is why we are ecstatic to get updates from our adoptive families!

Here are a few of their tales.

Guinea pigs
We have quite a few guinea pigs come through the rescue!  We pull from various humane societies and SPCAs as well as taking in a few private surrenders (and yes, we've even received piggies found as strays!)  Much of the time, we don't know their story.  In most cases, they are likely bought as a child's pet and later surrendered/abandoned.  Luckily, we have been able to find wonderful homes for many of these previously unwanted piggies.

Spot and Chance
Spot and Chance have been living the good life since being adopted!  Here is an update from their family:
Just wanted to give you an update on Spot and Chance, the two pigs we adopted from you.  They're doing great!  They've put on some weight and are very social little pigs (well, as social as Chance can be!). They're great with the kids and are hearty eaters - carrots and basil being their favorites!  They turned 3 years old last month.
Thanks Denise!

Senator Theodore Turkleton (formerly Abetting)

Clearly the Senator is pampered!  Here is a message from his family:
We changed his name to Senator Theodore Turkleton. He's a shy piggy but he loves to cuddle.  He gives kisses too. He has a buddy named Sir Charles Chewbacca the 2nd. He loves to run around the living room, and he loves his orange slices. He got a piggy bed for my birthday and he loves laying and eating his treats in it.
He also loves to burrow in blankets. We love him very much! Thanks again for helping us find him.
Fernando and Galileo
Fernando and Galileo are two more 4 Lil Pigs n Buns alumni who are happily living in their forever home!  Here they are with their buddy Pudge.
Wanted you to see how happy the adopted piggies are!  Fernando (who never got curly!) is like a scrub brush!  Galileo (Leo) is sooo happy and eats anything!  And then there's our Pudge, he's the one stretching.  They were in their play pen with a puppy pad underneath them while their cage got a good cleaning!
Thanks for posting this on our Facebook page, Vondalee!

Anya, Latte, and Primrose
Well, I figured I had to put my own happy tale in here too.  These are my girls, all adopted from 4 Lil Pigs n Buns.  Latte was a private surrender.  Anya & Primrose were both surrendered to Suncoast Humane Society, and we pulled them from there.  I adopted Latte first as a friend for my piggy Ginger (who passed away last year).  She is my little old lady at around 6.  Latte and Ginger didn't get along initially, and that's where Anya came in.  She was the glue that held them together!  Primrose is the most recent addition.  After Ginger passed away, I toyed with the idea of adopting another.  Well, Primrose came along and I fell in love.  My guinea herd lives the good life!
 
Bunnies
As with the piggies, we don't always know the story behind the bunny.  Again, most of the time, people buy bunnies for Easter or for a child's pet and are not prepared for the responsibility.  These bunnies end up homeless.  Thankfully, there are responsible adopters out there who will give these formerly unwanted bunnies a home.

Yuyuko (formerly Tabitha)
Yuyuko came to us with a batch of bunnies from a shelter in Key West.  She is a well-traveled bunny, as she was flown up to the Tampa area by Pilots N PawsI don't believe we knew very much about her history, but we know about her future.
She is happily living in her new home.  Here is an update from her family:
Tabitha came home with us in early June and was re-named Yuyuko. An anime character is named yuyuko, meaning "ghostly child". With her mostly black coat, you can only see her face blaze in a dark room. But there is another japanese word that sounds a little like it. Yuuyaku can mean "taking heart, being in good spirits" which is how we all feel when she is around. She is a very cuddly girl and wants attention all the time. That just means she needs a husbun now!
Let's see if we can arrange some speed dates.
Thanks for posting on our Facebook page, Toni!

Anya (formerly Rio)
Anya was part of a litter born at the rescue back in 2009.  Once she grew up and was spayed, she found her new home!  She lives with her mom Pamela and her duck (yes, duck!) friend Snuggles.  She even has her very own Facebook page!

Pearl (formerly Stella)
Pearl was part of a litter surrendered to the rescue (along with the parents) in spring of this year.  While it was fun to watch her grow up, we were so happy to see her find her forever home!  She even has a new husbun!  Bonding is in progress - and you can keep up with it on Wilfred Bunny's (her husbun) tumblr page!  Pearl is now a part of the blog as well. 


Snowflake and Hershel
We love foster homes, but we really love when the foster bunny ends up becoming a permanent resident!  Snowflake started out as a foster bunny.  She had a pretty rough start in life.  She was dropped off at Suncoast Humane Society.  She was spayed, and during the surgery, it was discovered that she was pregnant.  When we picked her up, her beautiful white coat was covered in urine stains.  The person who surrendered her actually recorded her coloring as "white and creme".  The "creme" was actually urine stains.  She also had a terrible case of ear mites.  On top of everything else, her front legs were slightly splayed.  After healing from her spay and ear mites, she went into foster care.  Well, her foster mom just fell in love with her.  Despite everything she had been through, Snow is just an awesome, lovable bunny.  We were afraid she would never get adopted - she is white with red eyes, has splay leg, and is a large bunny - all factors that work against bunnies!  She beat the odds and is living the good life.

Snowflake's new mom decided she needed a husbun, and that's where Hershel came in.  We pulled Hershel from Collier Animal Services.  Hershel is a Flemish Giant - he is BIG!!  He was a stray and had the appearances of a tough life.  His fur was sun-bleached and he had various nicks and scars.  The bonding with Snowflake was a success, and they will live happily ever after!


Want to become a part of this?
We always love hearing from our adopters.  If you've adopted an animal from 4 Lil Pigs n Buns, please send updates and pictures to sarah@pigsnbuns.org or post on our Facebook page!

If you want to give one of these animals a chance at a loving forever home, get started today by filling out our adoption questionnaireWe do want to ensure that our animals go to the best homes possible - after all, they've been through a lot.  Before applying, I recommend taking a look at these links to research proper care:

Rabbit

Diet: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/diet.html
Litter Box Training: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/litter.html
Cage: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/housing.html & http://pigsnbuns.blogspot.com/2012/08/house-hunters-small-pet-edition.html
Stimulation: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/toys.html
Grooming: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/groom.html
Handling: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/handling.html
Bunny Proofing the Home: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/rabbit-proofing.html                          

Finding a Good Rabbit Vet:  http://rabbit.org/faq/sections/vet.html 
  
Guinea Pig



Hamster

http://www.hamsterific.com/  

Thanks for considering adoption!