* Tell us a little about yourself and your background as a rescuer
My name is Kate Keller and I've been involved in animal rescue and education for about 10 years. I've volunteered with wildlife rehabilitators, shelters, sanctuaries and a local zoo. Through my experiences in these groups, I found my passion for rescue work...whether native wildlife or exotic animals. I began rescuing sugar gliders about 6 years ago. Since my first experience with gliders, I've learned so much and changed my ways of working with them. I continue to learn and adapt in order to provide the best care I can. I strongly believe that education is our best tool in keeping any animal out of the rescue system. By educating owners, we increase the chances of animals receiving proper care and enrichment and living happy and healthy lives. For me, rescue work is about much more than the actual taking in of animals. It's about changing the way people view animals. By getting folks to be passionate about saving animals, I can do the most good.
* Define your goals for your rescue home (i.e. put gliders in forever homes, rehabilitate behavioral issues, match potential owners, etc.)
I want to see the glider's life improve. I want to see every glider in the home that is best for THAT glider. This involves getting to know both the gliders and the potential forever homes. I will not place a glider into any home just to get it out of mine. I want any glider who leaves my home to be leaving it for their final home. I don't want to see that glider re-enter the rescue system and do all I can to prevent that.
* Who is your primary vet for your rescues?
Dr. Melissa Mueller/Planet Pet
* What are your requirements for adoption? (i.e. fill out an application, already own gliders, sign a contract, home visit, etc.... whatever your requirements are) and WHY?
The potential owner must fill out my application, sign/notarize my contract and convince me that they're the right home for a glider. I check references, both vet and personal. If possible, I do a home visit. Most homes that I've adopted to were referred to my by local vets and wildlife shelters. This is a great help because I can get that referral source's opinion about the potential home. The potential owner must be over 18 and have a signed approval from anyone they live with to be considered. Renters must show proof that they can have pets. I won't adopt to people in college or active military due to the high chances of relocation. The process is a lengthy and time consuming one because I have to know I'm sending the glider to the best possible home and that home must prove their commitment and desire to having that glider. My goal is to prevent that glider from ever re-entering the rescue system, so my criteria and adoption process are tough.
* Give us some idea of what a rescue's journey through your home would look like/consist of
I remove any unsafe items that they arrived with and get them settled into a safe cage. All cages have at least one wheel in addition to other enrichment items, pouches, and water. I do an initial evaluation to check for injuries or problems. Sometimes nails must be clipped to prevent injury, but most times I let them settle in and just watch them. The gliders are examined by my vet within 7-10 days of arrival and placed in quarantine in my home. Intact males are neutered as soon as possible. I get to know the gliders' behavior and personality. I watch what they like to eat and what toys they like to play with. Depending on the individual glider, I work on interacting with them. It could take a few days or a few weeks for a glider to start to trust me. So much depends on their condition and previous experiences with people. When the 30-45 day quarantine is over, we do a repeat fecal at the vet. If all is well, they get to move into a glider room and start to explore the bigger play areas. I provide enrichment activities best suited to each glider. Depending on how long a glider is here before adoption, they may have another well visit prior to going to their new forever home.
* Please list for us at least 3 procedures or standards that you feel are most important in your home.
1. vet visits-Routine well visits in addition to visits for any injury or illness are a must. Only healthy gliders are allowed to leave my home. Regardless of how much experience I may have, nothing replaces qualifed vet care. Many behavioral issues are actually caused by physical problems. It's important to ensure physical health before trying to assess behavior and personality.
2. behavior/personality assessment-I observe each glider and make notes on their personality, behavior and health. I use this information to make the best possible match with a potential forever home. It does no good to the glider or home if they're not compatible. I want the home to be accepting of the glider being placed there and not have false expectations of its behavior. For example, I wouldn't want to place an independent explorer into a home who wants a glider that will ride around in a bonding pouch or be held. An improperly matched home and glider will end up a disaster. That's not helping the glider.
3. enrichment program-I give each cage of gliders toys that they use. I watch to be sure they're enjoying them and I offer a variety. The glider safe play rooms have many different options to please every personality. I have rope toys for climbing, fleece toys for cuddling and foraging toys for mealworm hunting. Each cage of gliders has at least one wheel. Wheels in this house are for fun more than for exercise. I believe that the happier and more mentally stimulated a glider is, the better their life is. I do a lot of interacting with the gliders in my home. Some prefer to climb on the toys and ignore me while others spend their out of cage time on me. I try to provide what each glider needs. I don't simply care for these creatures...I love these babies!
* Please tell us what your passion or specialty is in terms of sugar gliders - I.e., what are you most excited or experienced in working with?
At this time, I try to only take in gliders who are ill/injured or need immediate assistance. I prefer working with gliders who have problems...illness, injury, emotional or behavioral. Watching an ill glider get better or seeing an overly anxious glider venture out of its cage for the first time are incredible experiences. I've shed tears of joy when a scared glider finally comes to take a treat from my hand for the first time. I've also cried when a glider leaves me for its new home. The flip side to that joy, is the emotional rollercoaster you go on. Not every glider gets better. It's physically, emotionally and financially draining, but it's what I love.
* How does one get in touch with you to start the adoption process?
I can be pm'd at SESG or emailed at email@example.com