Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Guinea Pigs Are Not For Everyone

By Joanne Colangelo
Joanne Colangelo volunteers for a number of animal rescue organizations. She shares her experiences in giving guinea pigs another chance at a forever home.

Click image to enlarge
guinea pig sitting next to vase of flowers
Photo Courtesy Joanne Colangelo Sweetie, one of Joanne's guinea pigs.

Just the other day, my daughter and I were watching TV together when she glanced over and saw my guinea pig, Sweetie, cuddled on my lap.

Knowing how much I love my dogs, cats and guinea pigs she said, “Mom, you’re so lucky that Daddy and I aren’t allergic to our pets. Gosh! What would you do?”

In a matter-of-fact manner I replied, “Well, then sadly, I’d have to say goodbye.”

“Oh, Mom! You could never give up our animals!”

 I added, “I didn’t mean the animals!”

Of course, this was all said in jest, but in reality, sometimes pet-parents must surrender their animals. Some people are allergic to guinea pigs and don’t know it until they get them home. Others cannot financially afford to support them or have a change in lifestyle not conducive to keeping pigs. Many guinea pigs are bought on impulse.  Let’s face it, those sweet little faces and stocky bodies are hard to resist.  However, guinea pigs are not for everyone.

My little pig, Sweetie, was purchased in a pet store by a young woman who never had a guinea pig before. She didn’t do her homework on piggie needs ahead of time, and the pet store did not question her knowledge of them, nor educate her. So baby Sweetie went to her new home. However, within weeks the woman no longer wanted the pig and went back to the store to return her. The pet store had a “No return, No refund” policy.

Luckily for Sweetie, she found her way into a guinea pig rescue. However, tragically, there are people who simply release their unwanted animals to fend for themselves. Oh, how could they?!

Domestic guinea pigs are heat and cold sensitive and have special dietary needs. As prey animals, they do not last long living on their own. While it is more humane to surrender them to animal shelters, the fact is that most people don’t think of going to an animal shelter for guinea pigs. The pigs may linger and, sadly, face euthanasia due to overcrowding.

Rescue groups are very crowded, too, which is why I offered to foster Sweetie. I kept her separate from my herd for several weeks to ensure that she was healthy. She was so quiet and shy living alone because guinea pigs are not solitary animals. (However, there are always exceptions.) So, when I knew she had no contagious condition, Sweetie met my other three sows and was easily accepted. She quickly became a member of their herd and a wonderful addition to our family.

I’m proud to say that my daughter has followed in my footsteps and shares my adoration and compassion for animals. In fact, when she first introduced me to her new boyfriend she proudly told me two things about him: his name and that he wasn’t allergic to animals.

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Guinea Pigs Are Not For Everyone

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Reader Comments
Hola Joanne,
Yeah, it's pretty unfortunate that everyone doesn't do their 'homework' before bringing piggies into their lives. That's why there are so many displaced piggies right now. Your story in the beginning of your blog cracked me up! :-) I'm actually allergic to the timothy hay myself, but I choose to take allergy medicine cuz I just can't give up 'guinea pigs'. It's an addiction, I know, but I'd rather be addicted to piggies than anything else...Wheeeeeek! :-)
Leah & Princess Snowflake, Charlotte, NC
Posted: 8/21/2008 2:36:30 PM
This is a great entry. Sadly pets aren't for everyone, but for those of us lucky enough to be able to keep them, they are an absolute blessing! Props to you for fostering a guinea in need! Small animal rescue is wonderful!!!
R, S, CA
Posted: 8/17/2008 11:31:40 AM
Joanne, I am learning more and more about guinea pigs. Still don't want one, but learning is a good thing.
Kathleen, New Bern, NC
Posted: 8/17/2008 8:06:23 AM
Hi Kate!
Thank you for your kind comments. How wonderful that you ran a rescue for a few years!! Guinea pigs sure need people like you. As you know, we need to educate others so that all animals could have healthy and happy lives. Enjoy your piggies!
Joanne, Mahopac, NY
Posted: 8/15/2008 9:26:14 PM
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