Whitney Potsus is vice president of The Critter Connection guinea pig rescue in Durham, CT, which has taken in more than 800 animals in seven years. She also writes the group’s blog, Guinea Pig Connection. She got her first guinea pig when she was 30 and has shared her home with 14 pigs of her own and nearly two dozen foster pigs in the years since.
Each year, Adopt-A-Rescued-Guinea Pig Month educates a few more people about guinea pigs and the rescues dedicated to their welfare. Invariably, when we do public appearances in March, we hear over and over again comments like:
- I didn’t know guinea pigs needed rescues.
- I didn’t know there was such a thing as a guinea pig rescue.
- How can such a small animal be given up so often? I mean, they don’t take up nearly as much space as, say, a dog or a horse.
The truth is that all species of animals can run into trouble if they land in the care of the wrong humans, or if they’re taken in by people who didn’t do enough research beforehand or weren’t realistic about what they could take on.
Guinea pig rescues are full of sweet critters who have been abandoned outdoors, left behind in empty homes, seized by authorities in abuse/neglect/hoarding cases or, quite literally, thrown away. There are pigs who were surrendered because kids lost interest, adults lost jobs, families had to relocate or caretakers were overwhelmed by the costs and/or labor required for the proper care of this species.
Why adopt and not buy?
Despite all this, rescued guinea pigs remain open-hearted to good humans willing to make a serious, long-term commitment. The advantages of adopting these sweet critters are numerous. Here are just a few:
- Adoptable guinea pigs are correctly sexed. A rescue group won’t send you home with a mixed-sex pair thinking you are instead leaving with a same-sex pair.
- Adoptable guinea pigs have had top-notch care. Expert handlers know the subtle symptoms of a long list of illnesses and won’t send a pig out if they have the slightest doubt about its current health.
- No surprise pregnancies. A rescue group will not send a pregnant guinea pig home with an adopter. If an unspayed female pig comes into a rescue and volunteers know there’s a good chance she’d been around an unneutered male, she’ll be put on pregnancy watch as a precaution.
- Rescue groups typically have guinea pigs of all ages. This means you’re sure to find the right match, whether you have soft spot for seniors or would prefer to have full-grown guinea pigs for your kids.
- Rescue groups have bonded pairs of guinea pigs. So if you want two, you can find two who already get along great.
- Rescue groups often know the personalities and temperaments of the guinea pigs in their care. Whether you’re looking for a roommate for your single pig, want a pig that’s not going to freak out when your English Sheepdog barks, or want a pig that’s the quintessential couch potato, a rescue can help you find the one who fits.
- A good rescue is not going to let you get in over your head. Our primary concern is the welfare of our animals, and we’re strong defenders of and advocates for them. If we think potential adopters need further information and education, or think guinea pig care is going to be too much for an already overloaded household, we’re going to have a diplomatic but firm heart-to-heart talk with you. Humans get over hurt feelings and bruised egos — but an animal may not survive a bad home.
So if you’re looking to bring guinea pigs into your home, please give a rescued animal a second chance. When you adopt guinea pigs, you help more than just the critters you take in. At any given time, there are hundreds of adoption listings on Petfinder for guinea pigs across the U.S. And for every pig that’s in a rescue, there’s another one needing the same safe haven.
Have questions about adopting a guinea pig or guinea pig care? Ask an expert in our forum, going on now through March 27!
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