Saturday, July 28, 2012

The day I met Edgar Hansen

So last weekend, I was chilling at home when I saw on Facebook that none other than Edgar Hansen of Deadliest Catch was to be at the grand opening of a new West Marine store in Ft. Myers.  If you know me, you know that I am a huge Deadliest Catch fan.  I've watched since season 1, and season 8 just finished.  Edgar works on the Northwestern, my favorite boat on the series.

Well, needless to say, I ran to my trusty Hyundai and headed for Ft. Myers - about a 50 minute drive from my condo.  I tried to contain my excitement as I battled traffic on US 41.  Soon, my GPS announced I was "arriving at destination".  SQUEEE! 

I walked into the store.  I must say, the new West Marine on College Parkway in Ft. Myers is quite impressive!  Lots of fun stuff for anybody who spends time on the water.  I wandered a bit until I saw a line - yup!  There he was!  I may have bounced up and down a bit.  I met a nice lady in line, and we had a good conversation almost the entire time.  She had just moved down from up north, and lives on a boat at the yacht basin in downtown Ft. Myers.  She hadn't quite adjusted to the Florida heat yet!

It was pretty cute seeing kids meeting Edgar.  Everybody was laughing as he joked around with the kids.  The wait in line wasn't bad, and it was a good experience since everyone was happy and nobody was complaining about being in line! 

Finally it was my turn!  I walked up to the table, he shook my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Edgar" at which point all coherent thought fled my mind.  I'm a scientist, for crying out loud!  I could care less about meeting A-list celebrities, sports stars, or musicians.  Well, have me meet a genuine Bering Sea crab fisherman (admittedly a good-looking one!), and apparently I swoon like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

I finally (sort of) got my act together, and he signed autographs and took a picture with me.  And yeah, while posing for the picture, my brain was screaming, "OMIGOSH Edgar Hansen has his arm around me!!!!!!!!!"  After the picture, I told him I was so happy to meet him, and to stay safe out there.  He thanked me for coming.  He was super nice, which I was glad to see.  It would be disappointing to meet someone you look up to and find out they're a jerk!  I wish I had had the presence of mind to talk to him a little bit more, but oh well.  I was just so thrilled to meet him!

I walked around the store for a little bit with a ridiculous smile on my face.  I made the entire drive home with the ridiculous smile on my face.  My autographed postcard and toy inflatable boat that he wrote "Northwestern" on are proudly displayed in my room.

Even though I don't exactly work on the Bering Sea, I think every person who works on the water feels some sort of camaraderie with others who work on the water.  Whether you're working on Charlotte Harbor, the Atlantic Ocean, the Bering Sea, the Great Lakes, or wherever else, you have to work as a team with your crew.  You've got a common goal - to get the job done.  No matter where you work on the water, there is always the potential for danger.  Granted, Charlotte Harbor is no Bering Sea, but we still face potential hazards - lightning, boating dangers, and critters that can stab, poison, or eat you.  Whether you're working on a 24 foot mullet skiff or a 110 foot crabbing vessel, things break down, and you have to pull together to fix them.  While it can be frustrating at times, I am glad to be part of this big conglomerate of people who earn a living on the water.

Deadliest Catch is awesome.  Now shut up and fish.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hard Truths in Rescue

Recently at the rescue, we had to put a moratorium on intakes.  We were very much at our capacity.  It's difficult, because you want to save them all.  You want every unwanted animal to be safe and cared for.  However, every rescue organization has a responsibility to know its limit.  It is the first and most important lesson that every rescuer needs to learn. 

This year has been terrible for numbers of surrendered rabbits.  We receive dump calls and emails nearly every day.  As much as we want to, we cannot take them all.  The bulk of these calls are from people who bought a rabbit on a whim, and got tired of it after a few months.

"We got the kids a rabbit for Easter, and they're not taking care of it any more."

"We bought a baby bunny, but it's started biting and it smells."

"I have a rabbit, but I'm tired of it."

"I'm getting a puppy, and I don't want to take care of the rabbit too."

Oftentimes when we explain to people that we cannot take in their unwanted pet, they become irate.  "Isn't that what you're here for?" they ask.  Sure people.  Like it's our fault that they made an irresponsible decision, and we're terrible for not fixing their mistake.  They want to feel good about getting rid of their pet.  They don't have to feel as guilty giving it to a no-kill organization as opposed to the pound.

Well, the sad truth is that we cannot take them all.  We take in the ones we can.  A lot of time, we do squeeze in "just one more" - such as a special case of a splay-leg bunny or a bunny in danger of being PTS.

What would happen if we did try to take them all?  A rescue is supposed to be a sanctuary.  It's not a forever home, but it's a means to reaching one.  An animal in a rescue should by all means be in a sanitary environment, provided daily nutritional needs, and necessary vet care.  If this cannot be provided, there is no point to taking in the animal.  It's going from one bad situation to another.

Everyone likes the feel-good stories of rescue, but the fact that we cannot save them all is one that people would rather ignore.  You are the good guy if you can take in unwanted animals, but if you have to say no, you are the bad guy.  Rescuers can feel like the bad guy when saying no.  You come to the realization though, that you are not the reason this animal is not cared for.  Rescuers saying "no" are not the problem.  They are being responsible.  It is the irresponsible decisions of people that put these animals in jeopardy in the first place.

Will the overpopulation of animals ever cease to be a problem?  I highly doubt it.  As long as there is greed, ignorance, and poor decision-making on the part of the general populace, there will be unwanted animals.  We combat it by trying to educate people.  Don't breed your rabbits or other pets.  Don't buy a bunny for Easter.  Please be a responsible pet owner and research a potential pet's needs before acquiring one.  Adopt.

When we do say no, we offer alternatives.  We try to keep animals in their homes.  Correct behavioral problems by spaying/neutering.  Provide advice for destructive behavior.  Help people understand the needs of their pet.  We offer alternatives to taking their pet to the pound.  We suggest species-specific forums to re-home pets.  Give advice if they must use Craig's List (which we don't recommend - always ask for a re-homing fee if you use a website like CL).  Sometimes, that is all we can do.

People need to be more understanding when we must say no.  If you don't like it, then make a commitment to foster.  The more foster homes there are, the more animals rescues can save.  Donate toward vet care and daily needs.  Rescuers fund much of what they do out of their own pockets, and funds are sadly limited!

Please be a responsible pet owner.  Spay and neuter pets.  Don't make impulse purchases.  Above all, get it through your head that you are taking on the care of a living, breathing, feeling creature who deserves love, attention, and a healthy environment.