After reaching out to Critter Camp founder Beth Randall after my previous post with their adorable rescued bunnies somehow she found the time to write back to little old me so quickly I was amazed. Beth was kind enough to answer each of my questions with such detail and honesty. It is hard to not somehow find an even deeper respect and appreciation for the work of independent rescuers after reading the below. Thank you Beth for all the hard work your whole family and volunteers put in for the animals in need!
1. Can you provide a story about an animal brought to you that you feel people can learn from?
There are tons of stories to share that people can learn from. Here are just a few:
- There was Bravehog a hedgehog found in a dumpster. He was thrown out when his owner moved.
- Oscar the bunny found in a trash can covered in ticks- again simply thrown away.
- Munch & Fin the prairie dogs-their owner got tired of them and left on his porch to die. His neighbor would feed them when he was gone and finally just asked if she could have them. She brought them here where they are thriving.
- Little Fluffy the baby guinea pig born blind and deaf with only 1 tooth. The people who had his mom didnt know she was pregnant when they got her and they had no idea how to care for this little one. She is doing well here now.
- Tyson the ratty was thrown into a snake tank for food but ended up chewing half the face off the snake (please do not feed live animals to pet snakes!) the snake lived but needs assistance eating. Its owner’s girlfriend pleaded for him to find the rat a home. One of our volunteers took him in and brought him here.
- Hawk Girl the guinea pig (pictured above) was seen running loose in a yard. People tried to catch her but she was too quick. Then they saw a hawk swoop down and pick her up & drop her. They got her then and took her to a shelter that sent her here.
- We have had many animals paralyzed because they were dropped by careless owners too.
2. On average how many animals would you say are brought to you each month or year?
We take in an average of 200 animals a year. We generally care for 320+ at any given time. Since many we take in are elderly and or have chronic illness we do have openings often. Since we are a sanctuary we do keep them the rest of their lives here.
3. If someone wanted to volunteer at an animal sanctuary what skills or background do you think they should have?
Anyone can volunteer in a shelter in some capacity- feed, clean and exercise the animals & cages, help with taking pics of the animals or writing up descriptions, be the shelter’s representative at events, transport animals, hand out materials, spread the word about the rescue, help in contests where votes are needed, etc.
4. If someone wanted to open up their own sanctuary what advice would you give?
I would seriously advise against anyone starting a rescue. It is an overwhelming task and takes a 24/7 committment plus a lot of your own money for many many years. Critter Camp has been a licensed 501c3 non-profit organization for 8 years and last fall was the first time I did not have to fund at least part of the expenses. We did not set out to form a rescue. About 12 years ago we took in 2 ferrets as a homeschool project. Then people started bringing us animals they didn’t want. We got up to 30 small pets and decided we couldn’t take in anymore but it turned out there were so many that would die without us saying yes so as a family we decided to make the committment to become a 501c3 non-profit organization and be licensed as a rescue with both the state and the USDA. I am a single mom on a very tight budget. It took sacrifice from all of us- myself and my children to do this. We all work a lot with the animals. About 8- 10 hours a day 7 days a week. They don’t take holidays off eating and pooping and being sick. We never ever go on a vacation or even an overnight. The last time we went anywhere overnight was 6 years ago. I do some caregiving and online sales to help pay the bills for our home. We do not take any salary or pay from the rescue. Our plan is to build a stand alone facility in the next few years that will have paid staff. Winning the $50,000 from Pepsi brought us that much closer. We bought 3 acres of land for the building site.
If someone really wanted to independently rescue I would recommend first volunteering at an established rescue. Visit several to be sure you can handle it.
5. Why do you do what you do?
I do this because these animals need us. Critter Camp is the only 501c3 licensed facility in the USA that takes these animals- the unwanted ones- not adoptable. Other than cats & dogs, wildlife or farm animals no one else takes a 3 year old hamster with a tumor, a ferret with end stage adrenal disease, a rat that bites.
6. Can you give an idea or breakdown of how one small donation could help the animals in your care?
A one-time $10 donation will:
- Transport an animal from a kill facility to safety here.
- It will care for a hamster, mouse, rat or gerbil for an entire month.
- It will buy pain medicine for a rabbit after being neutered.
- It will supply a weeks worth of bedding for one of our guinea pig havens ( free range enclosures for the 50 rescued piggies here - separated into boys &girls).
- It will feed a fennec fox for a week.
- It will buy calcium blocks for the parrots to keep their beaks healthy.
- It will buy ingredients for our special insectivore food we make from scratch to feed the hedgehogs, sugar gliders & kinkajous.
- It will buy treats for Shadow the arctic marble fox for 2 months.
- It will feed all 5 of our degus for a week.
If everyone who cares about these pets will donate $10 it makes a huge difference! Sending us a $10 monthly dontation is even better because we can plan ahead:)) and you really never miss it.
Please visit www.crittercamp.org and sign up for their free weekly email newsletter. Visit and subscribe to their youtube channel. “Like” their facebook page and follow them on twitter @Karmaferret. Please share these links with your friends and family.
For donations visit this page (an amazon wish list also exists on the donations page so that you can purchase and have supplies sent directly to Critter Camp).
They also accept paypal donations made directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can even donate by texting: GIVE 9918 to 80088 to donate. $10 to Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary Rescues 80 Pets!. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.