The pandemic hasn’t just impacted us humans - it’s wreaked havoc in the animal world too
Have you been lucky enough to welcome a new furry friend or two recently? If so, you’re certainly not alone. In a year that we were forced to stay home due to worldwide COVID-19 lockdowns, pet ownership has risen spectacularly.
People have been particularly keen on buying ‘starter pets’ - smaller animals such as hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs.
We always advise adopting from animal rescues rather than pet shops and, since the pandemic first hit in early 2020, animal rescues worldwide have reported a huge increase in the number of guinea pig adoptions.
Sounds like great news, right?
Well, sadly, not all newly adopted piggies are now enjoying the ‘happy ever after’ they deserve.
WORRYING TREND OF GUINEA PIG SURRENDERS
Exclusive research by Kavee has found that rescue centres are now seeing a worrying rise in guinea pig ‘surrenders’ - the term used to describe an animal owner relinquishing their guinea pigs because they’re unable to continue to care for them.
We sent out a questionnaire to rescue centres to find out how the pandemic has affected them. One rescue centre in the USA told us that they were on track to have a ‘record number’ of guinea pig returns this year.
“Despite our rigorous adoption screening, animals are now being returned as families are no longer in quarantine and children are going back to school and losing interest,” explained Fenella Speece, President of Wee Companions Small Animal Adoption in California.
Another adoption centre described the awful living conditions some animals were being forced to live in prior to rescue.
“In the last week we have received 15 surrender applications and we are starting to see animals abandoned,” said Thomas Pederson, founder of Oakhurst Guinea Pig Rescue in Georgia. “The other terrible thing we are noticing is that families have multiple pigs including babies; they stated they thought they were getting two of the same sex at the pet store but actually didn’t. In one case, the family got two guinea pigs last summer and now have 23.”
OUR GUINEA PIGS’ RESCUE OF THE MONTH PROGRAM
Here at Kavee, we’re dedicated to animal welfare - not just through our spacious modular C&C cages for guinea pigs which are designed to allow piggies to live their best lives but also through our collaborations with guinea pig rescue centers.
Animal rescues do a difficult but essential job with volunteers working tirelessly to protect and care for guinea pigs who are ill, have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The guinea pig community owes them a huge debt. Now, due to the pandemic, increasing numbers of piggies are in desperate need of help and rescue centers are under more pressure than ever.
We can’t sit back and do nothing so that’s why we’re really excited about our recently launched Guinea Pig Rescue of the Month program in the USA - set up partly as a response to the concerning increase in guinea pig surrenders.
Each month, we focus on a different rescue each month, boosting its profile and highlighting its work on our social media channels along with offering supplies worth $100 to aid their efforts.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP GUINEA PIG RESCUES?
As we’ve explained, the pandemic has put guinea pig rescues under unprecedented pressure and they need help. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Support your local guinea pig sanctuary by volunteering, donating funds or giving supplies such as food or bedding. If you aren’t sure where your nearest rescues are located, check out our UK guinea pig rescue list and our USA guinea pig shelters map.
- Think carefully before you commit to get a guinea pig - if your circumstances are likely to change (you may soon be returning to the office rather than working from home) think carefully about whether this may prevent you from properly caring for your guinea pig
- Avoid buying a guinea pig from a pet shop - adopt from a rescue center instead
- Spread the word - if you have friends who are thinking about getting a guinea pig, direct them to the local rescue
- Follow rescues on social media and help raise their profile by sharing posts about guinea pigs requiring adoption.
Other relevant sources of information on the impact of Covid on small pets: https://www.rspca.org.uk/-/news-rise-of-lockdown-starter-pet-could-lead-to-increase-in-neglect