Welcome to the blog for the Oregon Ferret Shelter! Ideally, this will be a nice venue for friends of the shelter to get information about what is going on with the shelter. Or maybe just to view some funny gifs.

To get to the Oregon Ferret Shelter's main website, please visit OregonFerretShelter.org

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Relinquishment

Intellectually, I knew that shelters had to accept new animals. And each week, when more ferrets would appear, I would always try to learn what had happened so that I could tailor my care to them. But handling a relinquishment is a fairly daunting task. It takes a sense of detachment and professionalism that, quite frankly, I just don't have yet.

When the young woman (with her mother) came by to drop off her two ferrets, my fellow volunteer Tracy was there to help me (thank god!). Tracy showed the women around the place, all the cages and the play yards. She also told them a few things about the ferrets’ chances of adoption. We learned that the ferrets were 4 years old, which is on the older side for a ferret and is typically an age when many of the known ferret diseases crop up, like adrenal and insulinoma. Tracy mentioned that their age would make them more difficult to place. The young woman was holding up nicely until Tracy mentioned that. Then she started to cry.

I felt so bad for her. I went and grabbed her a tissue. When I came back, the woman's mother shot daggers at me with her eyes. I understood that we were making her daughter cry and invoking her maternal instinct. But as hard as this was for that poor woman, I knew that it would be tougher on the ferrets.

Then the woman brought in her two ferrets. They were fine fat little boys, adorable little pudges with soft fur and big eyes. I told the woman that they looked very good for 4 years old and that it was obvious that she had taken very good care of them. She smiled through her tears and said that they were her babies, and that it was tearing her apart to leave them there, but she was moving to California.

*the author now stuffs down her murderous rage at the California Department of Fish and Game, not to mention Arnold Governator*

We finished up some paperwork and brought in the boys' stuff. Then goodbyes were said, and more tissues were issued. Tracy then asked the final, and hardest, question:

"Can you make a financial donation towards their care?"

This is such a loaded and terrible question for people. It is so important for the shelter to get actual, cash money any way they can. Vets need to get paid, medicines aren't cheap, and so many expenses crop up that need to be handled immediately. Cash is the one thing we are always short on.

But the people who are bringing in their ferrets are often very poor themselves, at the end of their financial and emotional rope. This is their greatest sacrifice - they can no longer take care of one of their family, and they feel that the emotional sacrifice alone is more than they can bear. In these situations, neither party can afford to go without even a small sum of money.

It is a no-win situation.

The woman offered us her last $20. Her last $20. This woman had only $20 to her name, but she was going to give it to us. We declined, but we took a promise instead: When she gets back on her feet, she was to go out and pay it forward, to go and do a kindness for someone.

So we all said goodbye, and I took the boys back to their cage that I had set up for them. Their names were Frank and Boogety. (Why did she name him Boogety? "He looks like a Boogety." And he really does.) Both ferrets were confused, and Boogety was downright peeved. I tried to comfort them with Ferretone and with their old bowl from home, but they were having none of it.

(I know I will be accused of anthropomorphizing, but I think that ferrets have feelings that are just as deep as human feelings, and they make emotional connections that are just as real as any human connections. They may not be the same, but they are just as real and just as strong, if not stronger. These guys were realizing that life was going to be very different and that they were going to lose the one person that was most important in their lives. And this seemed to have a very great impact on their actions. Only a fool would see evidence of emotional disturbance and write it off as "just typical animal behavior".)

So, Frank and Boogety are in our shelter now. If you want to come by and see them, or any of a few hundred other ferrets with similar sad stories, just give Chris a call at 503-557-8369.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Got to Run the Ferret Shelter for a Weekend! Yay!

In Battlestar Galactica, the Secretary of Education becomes the President, even though there are 42 people ahead of her in the Presidential succession, because of dire circumstances.

In much the same way, I was elected to run the Oregon Ferret Shelter for a weekend. And now I shall share that experience with you so you can all gain a new appreciation for just how hard Chris and Dave work to help animals in need.

Just so you know, running the shelter isn't just running the shelter part. It's also running the home of Chris and Dave, the owners of the shelter. And since they are animal lovers, this means taking care of a lot of many kinds of animals.

Dave and Chris love their dogs a lot. There is a lot to love -- they have four English Mastiffs. These dogs are huge. And even though Mastiffland is a peaceful place, entering an empty home with four of them inside is not for the faint of heart. After I got the emergency call, I headed over to their house, only to open the door to three of them in the front room on the floor. Three gigantic heads raised, and heart-stopping thunderous howls sounded from the mouths of all. I would not have been surprised if their eyes started shooting laser beams -- it was that intimidating. It takes real nerve to enter a house with that facing you.

Fortunately, they knew me. And I had french fries.

After I was greeted, I went into the kitchen to feed the dogs (the mastiffs plus two more dogs! EEK!). There was only a little food left in the tub on the counter. I hoped that Chris had a huge storage bin of it somewhere because it was not good to let large dogs go hungry. Especially dogs that were bred to kill bears. Fortunately, Chris had a huge bin of it in back. This was going to be the theme of the weekend -- Chris has everything anyone could ever need in quantity. She is prepared for every emergency. If the zombie plague ever happens, and civilization is thrown into a shambles, I will head on over to Chris' compound because she will have the best chance of survival.

I spent the rest of the night checking over the shelter kids, making sure they had food and water, and appeasing the cats. I tried to learn where stuff was. I also sent out the call for help to my fellow volunteers Lin and Tracy. Thankfully, Lin was able to do the meds. And Tracy was able to help me with the toughest part of the weekend --

More on that next time...