Chinchillas.com was established in the summer of 2001, as a continuation of the business end of Underhill Chinchillas. Underhill Chinchillas was a successful US hobbyist breeding and show herd, and was in existence from 1991 to 1999. The actual herd was sold in April of 1999. In the year 2000, the business developed a partnership with Jim Ritterspach, a successful show breeder of over 30 years, and an ECBC and MCBA sanctioned chinchilla judge. Subsequently, in 2001, Chinchillas.com emerged. In the Fall of 2001, the Chinchillas.com online live auction was initiated to offer international and domestic clients access to rare hybrid colors, and to high quality foundation stock. The chinchillas offered on the auction and through direct sales are all centrally located in Western Ohio. This allows clients to purchase chinchillas from multiple top show herds, and have them all shipped simultaneously. The auction and sales chinchillas are available, by appointment, to be inspected by prospective buyers prior to bidding or direct purchase through the site. The chinchillas on the auction are either graded according to age by Jim Ritterspach, or if they are shown and sold as "proven show," they will have been officially judged and graded according to breed standard by an alternate sanctioned judge. Questions from prospective clients are highly encouraged prior to bidding on auction, so that these clients can make the most informed purchase decisions possible. Chinchillas.com is dedicated to promoting the breeding of high quality chinchillas through the use of high quality pure standards, and to supporting the international chinchilla show community.
The actual Underhill Chinchilla herd was established in Southern California in 1991 by Laurie (Soehn) Schmelzle. After spending several years looking for high quality breeding stock, she found what she was looking for at PSK Chinchilla. Here she was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend many countless hours with Sue Kiseskey, as Sue graded chinchillas. Laurie was able to acquire knowledge of chinchilla breeding and genetics through Sue's patient and tireless efforts. Mrs. Kiseskey is an international sanctioned judge of the chinchilla, is respected worldwide for breeding superior chinchillas, and is especially noted for her black velvets. Her husband Pete Kiseskey was the President of Empress Chinchilla Breeder's Cooperative for many years. It was here at PSK that Laurie developed her interest in showing top quality standard and color mutation chinchillas. Her foundation herd was based on PSK breeding stock, and outcross chinchillas were added later from the Bradford herd, the Somavia herd, the Ritterspach herd, the Wilson herd, the Harris herd, and the original Sullivan (violet) herd. Laurie had one of the first hobbyist chinchilla herds to ever successfully compete in sanctioned ECBC shows, against some of the world's most talented breeders. Underhill Chinchillas consistently ranked among the awarded "top 5" best mutation breeders at ECBC shows.
Laurie Schmelzle is a continuous "student" of chinchilla breeding and genetics. She attended Florida International University, Florida State University, the University of California in Los Angeles, and Kansas State University studying philosophy and biology. She is also a lifelong student of Egyptian Arabian horse breeding, having grown up training and showing Arabian horses for one of the founding members of the Pyramid Society, an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Egyptian Arabian horses.
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