Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How Much Is That Rabbit in the Window?

Our microwave/fan combo over the stove started making funny sounds the other day. We'd turn on the fan and get a high-pitched shrill, as though the belt were broken. My husband and son removed it yesterday so that we could order the new part.

The good news is that we didn't need to buy a new part. The bad news is that a lizard had crawled in the fan vent from the outside. I've always wondered what happens if you get too close to a microwave while it's on. The poor lizard was burned to a crisp. But, hey, it was a really easy and inexpensive repair job. We only needed one thing--"Where's the trash can?" It could have been worse. The lizard could have chewed through a wire or become stuck in a part and broken it.

This reminded me of a rental that we owned here in town and how much damage small animals can cause. We had tenants who were placed by a temporary housing agency that worked with insurance companies. This family had mold in their upscale home, and needed lodging. The placement company paid top dollar, so we were more than happy to accommodate them. According to the rental agreement, they were not allowed to have any pets.

When they finally moved out, we found that the carpet disappeared in some places and there were strange holes in the walls. It seemed bizarre until we saw the small round pellets in the garage. When I asked the prior tenant about it, she said that her daughter's friend brought a rabbit to a sleepover and it got loose. Hardly! This would have been one very fast and hungry pet. The entire carpet needed replacing and the walls patching. I couldn't believe that the rabbit didn't croak from eating all the junk. One tough bunny!

We talked to the nosey, I mean, helpful neighbor across the street. She confirmed that the family who lived there owned a rabbit. The cost of repairs (plus the inclusion of a non-refundable pet deposit) was $7,213.90!

They had paid a $2,000 security deposit when they moved in, so I they owed a balance of $5,213.90. I was told repeatedly that they would pay, but it never happened, so I hired a collections agency for the first time ever. This company collected the debt immediately, but, for some unknown reason, refused to pay me the money. Go figure. What's my recourse when a collections agency doesn't pay their debt? The media, of course (and small claims court).

A San Diego news channel filmed a report on the agency. Before it aired, the company paid up. They asked me to stop the news story and cancel the court hearing. I told them that, since I was paid my money, I would back out of the story, but had no control over whether or not it aired. It was broadcast on the 5:00 news. Oh well.

All this trouble over a cute, little rabbit. Not just any rabbit, but what turned out to be one of the most expensive bunnies in the world. Years later, a friends of mine opened a business raising rabbits. She kept trying to give me one. Uh, no thank you!

So, what ever happened to our little furry friend? The snoopy, I mean, alert neighbor across the street told me that she saw another neighbor's dog eat it before the tenants moved out. Bummer!