Saturday, 31 January 2009

Sad times

I guess we've gotten off fairly lightly in terms of poorly people of late. Of course they always wait to get ill in batches.

One of the groups of baby boy mice started fighting so I was faced with the dilemma of separating them. I wanted to try to make sure I split off the right mice to minimise the risk of them being left on their own. Well I got it wrong. Arnie and Biffy were both guilty of attacking the others so I decided to split them off together and then separate them into singles if needed. The other 5 boys in the cage were clearly exhausted from being chased around so I wanted to get both the bullies out and give them a break. Well in the night Arnie attacked Biffy really badly, leaving Biffy with wounds to his backside and in shock. I had Biffy on a hot water bottle syringing him fluids but, when I got up at 3am to redo his bottle he'd passed in his sleep :(

Added to that, this week Harry, Fred and Robson came back to stay for their holidays. I noticed that Harry had a bit of a tummy on him and thought he'd just been enjoying the good life. However, when I handled him his tummy felt really hard. So he went to the vets last night and it looks like he has a tumour in his abdomen. He is having a scan on Tuesday to see exactly what is going on. It's too awful to contemplate that we might lose him. He is not much more than a year old and when he arrived he was terribly nervous and then became hormonal and aggressive. We had him neutered and he became the loveliest rat, the difference it made to him was really amazing. So he's really one of my special ones and I'm desperately praying for a miracle.

And finally I mentioned last time about Dexter who was here to see our specialist vet. Well the news wasn't good and it looks as though Dex's lumps are cancerous growths on his sebaceous glands. In the few days he was here new lumps developed and the existing ones grew so the poor lamb probably won't be with us much longer. He may not be one of my rats but I have gotten to know him over the years and he's a real sweetie so I couldn't help shedding a tear when the vet gave us the prognosis.

So all in all I'm rather :( at the moment and generally a bit frustrated as I just don't seem to be able to keep up with things. I'm trying to reduce numbers but it is yet to have any real effect. Still we should have about 9 mice going to homes soon so that will certainly help.

On a happier note we have three more rats going to their new home this weekend - Scott, Austin and Eoghan from the batch of babies that came in before Christmas.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

A busy day

We've had a very busy and productive day today. I'm exhausted but very pleased.

First of all two of the baby boy rats who came in just after Christmas - Rhydian and Leon - went to their new home in Poole. Then their sister Alexandra and her friend Haarla went to their new home. Haarla had been purchased from a pet shop as a "treat" for someone's pet snake. Thankfully the snake appeared to find a live rat intimidating rather than attractive and she survived and was abandoned at another pet shop. Then Danielle the hamster left to live with her new family. And finally, after 14 months here, Dre and Eminem the degus have left for their new home near the coast! I shall miss them lots! Dre in particular had made progress recently and finally seemed to quite like us. It's so great to know they'll finally have the home they deserve though.

We also have a new addition in the form of Fred, a 15 month old boy who was rescued from a home where he'd been kept alone in a small cage. This has left the poor boy with some issues and after suffering several nasty bites his rescuer realised he was more than they could handle and asked us to help. He has already been neutered so once he has settled in I'll see what he thinks of sharing his life with some girls.

As usual we owe a big thank you to Sylvia for her help in transporting Rhydian, Leon, Dre and Eminem to their new homes and delivering Fred to us.

We also have some temporary lodgers in the form of Jake (who was born here in Nov 06 and homed to Amanda who runs and his friend Dexter. Dex has a skin problem which several vets have so far failed to diagnose so we're going to see if the wonderful Rob at Seers Croft in Horsham can help. He's booked in for Monday evening so fingers crossed Rob can get to the bottom of what is going on and help him out.

So that's been our day so far...quite exhausting, but very productive!

Monday, 19 January 2009

The plan for 2009

I've been thinking a lot recently about how we can improve things in the future. In all honesty the last few months have been a real struggle. Well you only need to look back through the blog to see its been one crisis after another really. Obviously we always prioritise caring for the animals and a lot of the time that has left us with no time at all for looking at homing applications. We've missed out on a lot of homes cos they've, understandably, gone elsewhere while waiting to hear back from us. Of course its a vicious circle cos if we don't find time to home animals the numbers will never decrease!

So my plan for the future is to reduce the number of animals we have here at any one time considerably. My hope is that we'll still be able to help a similar number of animals. But having fewer in at any one time should leave me more time to advertise them for homing and then process the homing applications, thereby reducing the length of time they spend here and having a higher "turnover" for want of a better word. Last year animals were here for an average of 78 days before they found a home - that's almost three months. I'd like that to be more like one month really. In animals with a lifespan of 24 months, spending three of them in rescue isn't good. Currently we have several animals here who have been in rescue for getting on for a year, some have been here even longer. I really want to have more time to work hard on finding the right home for them.

Realistically it's going to be a while before this new way of doing things kicks in. I want to get to a maximum of 15 cages here at any one time and at the moment we have 25 so we have a fair bit of homing to do before we're at our target level. Hopefully this time next year we'll be able to report a difference though :)

In other news, we've had a very kind offer of help with the website. I've had a sneak preview this evening and I can't tell you how excited I am! Hopefully before too long we'll be unveiling a snazzy new look website which will also do some clever things behind the scenes to make keeping it updated easier :D

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Review of 2008

Well it's annual review time! This year is an odd one as we switched in March to fostering for Furry Friends to opening Starlight Trust Animal Rescue. I couldn't decide whether to record all together or separately. In the end I decided that the usual graph on the right records the STAR stuff so for the review I'd do everything. Then I got carried away and decided to put everything since we started fostering into tables. I do like my tables and stats I'm afraid!!!

So this is a complete record of our "intake" - this includes animals we have adopted, animals we fostered and animals we took is as STAR.


I can't quite believe that we have just taken in our 1000th animal! And nearly half of them were rats.

You can see on here this pattern we've had of one (or two) species dominating a year. In 05 it was rats, as we'd just started fostering and looked after several litters of babies.

In 06 you can see we took in a huge number of Russian Hamsters, far more than all the other years combined. This was a huge batch of mixed sex animals who were abandoned in a rescue, many of whom were pregnant. Rat numbers were also particularly high that year because of the "maskies" - who came from a family who didn't realise that boy rat plus girls rats equalled vast quantities of baby rats.

In 07 the big intakes were the Spiny Mice and Degus, both of which were rescued in large numbers from homes where animals had been left to breed out of control and were living in shocking conditions. And this year it was Fancy Mice from the same sort of situation. All in all these big rescues from one awful home seem to account for about a third of our annual intake :/ Where on earth, one has to wonder, are families and bodies such as social services in these situations? They tend to come from homes where the owner has a mental health issue so why does no-one step in earlier before it becomes such a huge issue?

So what happened to all these animals? I also did a table for all of the outcomes...


The animals are recorded by the year they came in on this table. Again it includes animals from all sources. It's odd how the number of animals who died is so consistent. These of course include our own pets so many are those who just reached the end of their days here as opposed to rescue animals who died before they could find a home. Still it shows why we get so emotionally exhausted sometimes with an average of about 2 friends a month leaving us for the bridge :(

It's lovely to think that we have now found new homes for 624 animals! I'm very proud of that figure. If you include the animals we released (wildlife being returned to the wild), passed to other rescues (this also refers to wildlife, 2 were passed elsewhere for release and 2 for permanent sanctuary) and passed back to Furry Friends for homing then that's 740 happy outcomes we've been involved in which is really pleasing.

It's a shame to see that 4 animals who arrived in 2007 are still waiting for a home :( That's Harry and Muchkin the two spiny mice who I'm beginning to think are going to end up spending their lives here, and Dre and Eminem the degus. Since their cagemate Smokey passed away I'm pondering having them neutered and adding them into our cage. I'm concerned about adding more girl goos into that cage since Naomi killed Fudge so perhaps neutered boys would be a safer introduction and ensure that we don't end up with too few in there. Reya and Kandi aren't spring chickens any more and I don't want them to get down to two cos then you risk a deep depression if one gets left alone.

Anyway 2008 was a quieter year for intake (until the mice came along) largely because homing was slow which meant we didn't have much room for new animals. Almost a third of the animals we took in during 08 are still here and the figures don't reflect those 2007 animals who didnt find a home into well into 08 as well.

Still, all in all I'm pretty pleased with our first year (ish) as STAR. Here's hoping for an even better 2009 :)