To answer the question begged in subject headline – “no” we do not think we are contributing the abandonment of gliders because we say shipping is dangerous. The very notion that a full-time rescue would “contribute” to abandonment is a bit of an insult, but we do not want our feelings to get in the way of conveying our intent and an explanation of our policy.
As to the splitting of hairs on the use of the words, “May,” “Shall,” “Will” “Is” etc. etc. juxtaposed with the word “Dangerous” – I don’t reckon anyone who would have the compunction to abandon (because we don’t condone outbound placement shipping and call it dangerous) would contemplate the distinction. Let’s face it, if someone is willing to “dump” an animal because we don’t condone shipping – do you really think the use of the word, shall, may, will, etc. next to “dangerous” is going to make the difference? We don’t think so. Not that anyone cruising an adoption site and looking at the particulars of an animal that is up for adoption would also be contemplating surrender anyway. And that’s where we put the disclaimer. So to us the wording is a moot point because the intent is very clear – our policy is we don’t ship. We say it’s dangerous and it is our prerogative to say so if we want to.
As a point of fact, there is a reason why the USDA transfer forms have a box on the form that says “Number of animals arrived dead.” That is because there is in fact death, and the USDA wants to keep track of it. Not sure how many pet stores and mill breeders
want that data disclosed publicly though. Sure there are plenty of good experiences from shipping personal gliders. We do not refute that. But that is the prerogative of the person shipping. It is our prerogative not to ship. If anyone out there wants to start a rescue and establish their own policies on shipping be my guest but these policies are not going to be fleshed out in a public court or on the whim of someone who is nitpicking about our policy wording. That is ours to decide.
Also, our “ad” on www.petfinder.com
where we list adoptable animals and our disclaimer about shipping must be taken in CONTEXT.
First of all, www.petfinder.com
is NOT a surrender site. Petfinder is an ADOPTION site. So the context of our statement on shipping must be understood to mean we do not ship gliders TO people who want to adopt. Nowhere on that site are we encouraging surrender ANYWAY. So why this subject would be so controversial given what we say is on an ADOPTION site – go figure. (it's petFINDER, not PetDUMPER)
Now on the subject of having gliders shipped to our rescue, that is a different context altogether. That is to say, in special circumstances (like the HI gliders that were transferred from the HI Dept of Agriculture to LGRS during the amnesty program), we will take INCOMING gliders by freight but that is only if the alternative is the threat of death or if there is no other viable rescue who can take them in locally. In that particular instance, it was not about the adopting-out of gliders, but rather taking in gliders long distance. The chances of them being euthanized if they did not get off the island were higher than the threat of them expiring en route – so that is a pragmatic choice – not hypocrisy. Incidentally these gliders were health checked by a vet
and checked out by a local glider enthusiast so we were sure they were in perfect health before we agreed to the shipping.
Ironically, the HI Dept of Agriculture would not have allowed that transfer to a non-USDA licensed, non-501(c)3 organization so that narrowed the field significantly. I mention this because some people postulate that having a USDA license is a big joke (After all any idiot can get a license and mill breeders
have them). Well, in this case, having that license actually facilitated a rescue where the alternative was an almost certain death. I’ll take not likely death over certain death any time. So that’s our answer to people who think a rescue having a USDA license as being a joke. It is in fact no joke at all. And the fact we are regularly inspected by USDA ACIs just like breeders
does bring comfort to both adopters and surrender-ers. But that does not mean we don’t think shipping is dangerous from the git-go. I mean jumping out of airplanes with a parachute is also dangerous but most people make it to the ground alive. That doesn’t make you a hypocrite to say it’s dangerous… because… well it is dangerous. I don’t care if you’ve done it once or a hundred times. It’s still a dangerous activity.
Now I can share what our motivation is for the policy though and our thoughts behind the policy in case anyone is wondering:
1. People surrendering animals often do not take care of them very well and to put them through the stress of containerized travel could push them over the edge - especially if they have metabolic bone disease or another nutritional malady. Many gliders surrendered to us are not in good health (upon surrender) so we just don't trust people enough to ship them when they could be too sick to travel. You would not believe the horrible condition some of these animals are in when they come to us. Some people are completely clueless as to how bad off their animals are because they ignorantly do not have a reference point or do not get their animals health checked. The thought of putting such an (on the edge, at-risk) animal in the belly of a plane – unattended – is just unthinkable for us.
2. For people adopting, we need to meet them face-to-face, put them through our (free) animal husbandry for sugar gliders school and dietary workshop, etc. and you can't do that long distance. Well it might be possible to do the coursework long distance, but people can’t interact with the gliders and get pooped on, smell them, get bitten, or allow us to gauge their reactions, etc. long distance. And the fact that people would ship animals to some unknown, faceless person out in the ether - who have had no training on animal husbandry - is cruel in itself. There is no attempt whatsoever for pet stores let alone mill breeders
to truly educate people on the truth about how to care for sugar gliders. They just ship off these animals as a commodity. They don't care what happens so long as they get paid. That's awful. And air travel enables this moral sloppiness. Sorry we are NOT going to lump ourselves in the same category as mill breeders
and allow the commodity-like shipping of animals as part of our routine. Not going to happen. Anyone getting a hold of these animals for adoption is going to come here, pass our sanity check, take the class and workshop, etc. We ain’t an animal version of eBay for goodness’ sakes.
3. Shipping is an ENABLER for mill breeders
to have access to the whole country as their market. Frankly these death merchants don’t deserve to have access to far-flung buyers because “PetSafe” commodity air travel is available. So now these money grubbing death merchants can flood the market not only with gliders but with the lies they tell about their care which in turn causes much death and suffering. So if the travel does not kill them it takes them to their "death camp" that much quicker. I know this third point is both passionate and philosophical, but we truly hate the fact that air travel enables the greed of mill breeders
and their lies. So in an indirect way, shipping can cause death and suffering - just not necessarily from the travel itself. That is NOT to say that shipping itself is not dangerous.
Based on our records and interviews with literally hundreds of people who abandon these animals, not ONCE did anyone EVER indicate they were “dumping” their animals "because we can't ship them by airplane." I mean for goodness’ sakes If people are moving, they can CARRY the animals with them. (When we moved our rescue, we paid professional animal movers to do that by climate-controlled vehicles with both a driver and a animal caretaker. We followed two of these vehicles in our own vehicle.)
As a point of FACT the top ten surrender reasons are, IN ORDER:
1. My child lost interest or went away to college and stuck me with the animals
2. The breeder
/ pet shop lied to me about how easy it is to care for them and I just don't have the patience any more
3. The cage mate died and I don't have the heart to keep the single one and think your rescue will do a better job of finding a mate for my single
4. I just got a new job that requires a lot of travel so I can't take care of them
5. My (brother, mother, sister, etc.) is allergic to them so they have to go
6. We just had a baby and don't have time for these animals
7. I have to move and I don't want to bear the expense and hassle of taking them with me (no mention whatsoever - EVER - of air travel)
8. I found this animal outside (or abandoned in front of a building in a cage) and took it in temporarily but don't want to take care of it any longer
9. It keeps biting me and doesn't like me
10. I am tired of it and want to get a different pet
Guess what? “I am dumping my glider because LGRS says shipping is dangerous” umm… doesn’t make the list and it’s never even been on the radar. So no, we are not the cause of abandonment because we say shipping is dangerous.
with utmost sincerity - Ed M, co-director
Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary
94 gliders, six donekys, one llama, two barn cats, three dogs, seventeen goats, eight sheep, etc.