Sunday, March 28, 2010

Younger People in Rescue

I have to start this out with a disclaimer...I have absolutely NO INTENTION of offending any of the wonderful people more advanced in years than I am who have done guinea pig rescue. These people are the ones who got me started and kept me going. What concerns me is that now that they are facing health and family problems, there are virtually NO other rescue groups here in central NY except for ours.
I know that with the recession, many families have put a focus on service and giving back to others, in whatever way they see fit. This is a wonderful trend; we are teaching a whole new generation to care about others, even if all we give is our time. Even very young children can learn to "give back," and that lesson will most likely stay with them for the rest of their lives, and hopefully create a ripple effect of giving that will influence even more people.
It's true, I've been strained by the number of guinea pigs being given up these last couple years. The same recession that spurred charity has also led many people to give up their pets. My hope is that someday, someone will be able to pick up the torch and start their own rescue. All I had to do was make the leap. After caring for unwanted guinea pigs for four years, I decided I would make it "official" and advertise myself as the Oswego County Guinea Pig Rescue. I did end up convincing one person to start their own, but again, she is older, and after facing some issues of her own, she decided to downscale and quit rescue.
There's nothing wrong with this; rescue can be overwhelming, frustrating, financially and emotionally draining, and time-consuming. Not everyone can carry through with it for the long haul. I guess my wish for the future is that just a few more people will recognize the need to help small, caged animals...not just guinea pigs, but rats, hamsters, gerbils, etc. who often end up neglected simply because they can be put in a cage and shoved into a corner or basement with barely a second thought. These animals suffer as much as any dog or cat; by increasing awareness, I hope to change people's attitudes and bring about a time when these animals are valued as much as any other type of pet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When Adoption Fails

Although I have had a HUGE number of adoptions over the last two years, in the past few months I have had eight guinea pigs who were adopted out get returned. The reasons and circumstances varied widely, and led me to rewrite my adoption contract (I know I've mentioned that before). I was frustrated and angry with several of the people who returned guinea pigs I thought I'd found a forever home for, but my main concern is always for the animal's welfare. In some cases, this also means that a guinea pig that is returned to me may not be a candidate for adoption again.
I am never in a rush to adopt out a guinea pig. At this point, only Pinot and Duff are good candidates for adoption. Indigo and Buttercup have issues that most people might not be able to deal with. I have several guinea pigs who do not like being handled, and I cannot in good faith adopt them out to anyone. Both Milo and Gobbles' previous owners have requested that they remain in my care, and I will honor those requests (Milo is going on 5 years old now).
My experiences over the last few months have made me very hesitant to adopt out again, but since adoptions have pretty much come to a screeching halt, that probably won't be a problem. All I can say is that I will always take back a guinea pig if things aren't working out..that is written in my application and that has always been my stance. I never knew there would be such a need for guinea pig rescue, and that includes taking animals back when adoption fails.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quick Update

I know I promised a picture of Phoenix, and I should probably post a better one of Gobbles because she is sooo cute, but today was my last day working at the bakery and I am EXHAUSTED. I ran out to get more fleece from Martha, who runs Piggy Bed Spreads, so now I have some extra pieces to put in my smaller cages. Jabby and Giorgio are now on the one she let me keep after going to Tractor Supply and they both seem to like it!
Prescott continues to get his medications and foot soaks. Bumblefoot takes a long time to heal up and I still need to get him a foam pad for underneath his newspapers. I've been changing the papers every day. He's not as cooperative as he was during the first round of treatment; I'm sure he's fed up with all of it, but obviously it needs to be done.
Indigo continues to make more "social" progress. Her skin still seems a little itchy with her new hair growing back in, so every other day I put skin balm on her and hold her for a little while.
Twix and Jack, two of my older males, have been moved into Taco and Chili's much larger cage. They had been living in a 55 gallon critter tank, which I cleaned out and sold. The big cage also got a thorough cleaning before moving the boys in, and they love having the extra space. (Oh, geez, I forgot to mention that Taco did end up passing away shortly after Chili did, and they are buried together on our farm. Taco kept taking his Dri-Tail but succumbed to the illness after a couple days.)
I'm seeing a lot of guinea pigs on Craigslist right now, but I am out of larger cages and don't know if I can take any more in. Fortunately, I have cut down on both food and bedding expenses (Tractor Supply sells a 50 lb. bag of Blue Seal for $16, where I was paying $14 for a 25 lb. bag) so it will not cost me as much to care for all my little furries, but I'm also not compromising on their health or comfort. I would like to switch a few more over to fleece eventually.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

R.I.P. Chili

A few days ago, I noticed that both Taco and Chili's activity level had dropped and they were not eating well. Then they started having diarrhea; I ran out to the nearest pet store but they were out of Dri-Tail, so I sent Ryan out the next day to get some at PetSmart. I immediately gave both boys a dose, and I had already stopped feeding vegetables. This morning, Taco took his dose of Dri-Tail, but Chili was too far gone for me to even get it in his mouth. He died a short time later. I don't know how old Chili was; I'm guessing at least 3-4, and I only had him a few months. I feel terrible about his death, but now we are focusing on Taco, who seems to be holding up ok so far. He has not had any diarrhea today so I will keep plugging the medicine and he will also get a bath when he is feeling better. I will keep everyone posted.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Adoptees on YouTube!

If you go on YouTube and search for "guinea pig introductions," posted by cfoster1966, you will see FIVE of my adoptees running around together, along with two more females. They have quite the setup, and I know they went to a great home...lots of space, toys, food, places to hide, etc. It's a three minute video so if you get a chance, check it out!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Using Craigslist

Even before I became a "rescue," I responded to quite a few ads on Craigslist in which people needed to find new homes for their pets for whatever reason. If you are interested in adopting any animal, Craigslist can be a good place to look, but use caution when reading the ads. If any ads say that babies are being "sold," or are simply listed as "baby guinea pigs X amount each," most likely the person is a breeder (or didn't bother to check the sexes of a pair they bought and want to make money off the accidental litter). More often than not, these people are looking to grab some cash without knowing or caring where the guinea pig ends up.
However, if the advertiser sincerely wants to rehome their guinea pig, they will include an adoption fee and at least offer the cage and accessories as well. People choose to give up guinea pigs for many reasons, including allergies, biting issues, lack of time, lack of money, kids lost interest, moving, etc. This was how I got started...I took guinea pigs that needed new homes because I didn't want them to end up in shelters or as reptile food. It's sad to see so many pets that people simply give up on, and it gets very frustrating. I don't understand how I have 27 guinea pigs and I find time for ALL of them, and yet some folks can't devote even a few minutes a day to just ONE.
Anyway, Craigslist is a good starting point if you are looking for any type of animal. If you do end up going to get a guinea pig and the conditions they are living in are not good, you can contact your local humane society. Most people want to "help" by going ahead and purchasing animals living in filthy conditions, but this only continues the cycle of abuse, neglect and profit at the expense of the animals. Ask a LOT of questions, and don't be afraid to say no if you don't get the answers you're looking for. And don't forget about personal safety...whenever possible, meet people in a public location, or at least take someone with you if you can't.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Healing Mental Trauma in Guinea Pigs

What happens when wounds heal, but an animal is left with mental and emotional scars from abusive or neglectful treatment? The number one key is to be patient. Indigo is a prime example of this. She spends most of the day in her igloo, placing it right over her food dish and near the water bottle. Until her wounds have healed 100 percent, I am keeping her on fleece so that she is comfortable, and I have started holding her in my lap. She will let me pet her just a little bit before squeaking and jumping, and she is very afraid of my dogs. I try not to do anything that will startle her, but I want her to get acclimated to life in our household, which can be busy and noisy at times. She needs her front nails trimmed, but right now she barely tolerates being touched, and I want to build up her trust a bit more before attempting to trim the nails. Right now, it would not be a pleasant experience for her, and could cause her further trauma.
One thing to remember is to NEVER force your guinea pig to do anything. Don't pick up its hideaway to "make" it come out; avoid making sudden movements and loud noises; keep it away from your other pets. Do try to feed it on a schedule to provide a sense of security. Despite her fears, Indigo is starting to come out to beg for food when she knows it is mealtime (and believe me, 27 guinea pigs all squeaking together for produce lets EVERYONE know it's mealtime!).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update on Casey (now Carl)

I wish I'd had my camera when I went to Animal Kingdom for a vet appointment (for my dogs) and got to see Casey (renamed Carl) for the first time since he got adopted. If you remember, he came to me with Miley and was from a horrible breeder in Pulaski. He looks AMAZING! His fur has grown in thick and full, and he has not only grown but put on some weight. I am always so happy to see guinea pigs blossom in the right household! He is obviously being well taken care of, and has much improved since I saw him last!
In other news, Mozy and my three girls (Violet, Lily and Daisy) have ALL found new homes and will be leaving this weekend. As much as I love them all, they are my most adoptable, and I'm glad to see them go to people who will love them just as much. Duff-man will be going with me to Tractor Supply next Saturday; at this point, I don't have many other candidates for adoption. He is young, healthy and friendly and will hopefully make a good impression!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Developments

As usual, it's like a revolving door with guinea pigs around here, haha! I believe I have found a home for Mozy, the last baby from Poppy's litter. My daughter took him out last night and pushed him around in her little doll carriage..very cute, and I got a picture that I will post later today.
I will also be posting pics of the three females I fostered out some time ago. The foster mom is having some family health issues, and needs to return them to me. I had named them Violet (the mom), Lily and Daisy. It is possible that one may be pregnant (of course) as they had been kept with the male babies for some time, so we may have another litter in the near future..*sigh* I was hoping not to go through this again so soon after Poppy but oh well, that's what we do best! :)
Indigo is healing well physically and slowly coming around mentally. Now that her wounds have closed up, I need to start holding her on a daily basis without giving her medications, etc. so that she realizes being held is not a bad thing. Today was the first day she came out for breakfast time. She spends almost all of her time inside the igloo, even moving it with her to eat from her food bowl and drink from her bottle. It's really sad, and I don't want to adopt her out again because she's so traumatized. Hopefully with lots of love she will come around.