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Animal Welfare Questions about shelters and rescues


Cavy Slave
Jan 12, 2012
I've never worked at a rescue/shelter or visited one, although I've tried to volunteer at one before, but I was curious about how many guinea pigs are kept in one on average.

Why I ask is because I have an incredibly hard time believing that there are tons of guinea pigs waiting to be adopted simply because I never see any near me or hear of any. I feel like if they were more available more people would prefer to adopt rather than buy for a lot of reasons, such as price, quality, better for welfare, etc. If one shelter has way too many, at least they could transfer to a shelter with room for a type of animal they don't have, right?

Why I am posting this is not to argue (even though I posted in the kitchen, I did that to be safe) I'm posting to get the real other side of the story from people who work with shelters and know first hand how many animals there are, how they get the word out, and why animals have to be euthanized instead of transferred or fostered. Personally I think -every- animal should have its picture on a site on the internet, such as petfinder, so it has a chance for adoption. Every animal, I would think, would have paperwork so I wouldn't think taking a picture would be that much more effort, but like I said, I have no idea. The only animals I think should probably be put down are ones that can't go anywhere because they are so feral or aggressive that they simply can't be rehomed.

I would -really- like to help, but the shelters in my area never respond to any volunteer applications, and they maybe keep 5 pictures of animals on their site - either they have only 5 animals or they need someone to take pictures. I just don't get why they don't get the help or if they only have just 5.

Also what is the difference between rescues and shelters? Are rescues more of a foster until adopt operation, where they are more spread out?
I think it's because most guinea pigs die when they're in the wrong hands and only a few think about surrendering them to the shelter. Lets face it, most people see guinea pigs as rats/hamsters, "it's okay for them to die", it's like it's okay to kill an ant but it's so wrong to kill a horse kind of thinking.

For your second question, I'm not sure but I think rescue is where rescued animals go and get rehabilitated, not necessarily up for adoption, for wild and domestic. Like big cat rescue, wolf rescue, wildlife rescue. While shelters are just temporary places for domesticated animals.
I've fostered in the past and have adopted all my pigs since I realized buying was horrible. The Edmonton Humane Society on average has 1 to 13 pigs at a time. I have never seem them with out at least one guinea pig. In the USA there are Guinea Pig Rescues that only take in guinea pigs and they tend to have LOTS. I'm talking 10-100s at any given time depending on their size and how many fosters they have.

I think it all depends on where you live. Most people here put up ads on Kijiji because they don't want to pay the surrender fee. We don't have a small "pocket pet" rescue any more and since they closed I've noticed a rise in hamsters, degus, guinea pigs and mice at the humane society.

I do know in Ontario they have guinea pig rescues because its got a high population. I think that might have something to do with guinea pig only rescues. But like pandaloki said, most guinea pigs and other small rodents die before they even make it to the rescues or shelters.
Thank you both :) Why one who might have around 100 wouldn't transfer some to one that might only have a few? Is it a legal issue?
Well I work at a no-kill rescue for small animals. First off the difference between a shelter and rescue is a shelter is government funded facility and they are the ones that tend to euthanize in large numbers due to "over crowding" or "sickness" unless satiated that they are a no-kill shelter.

While a rescue is usually run souly on donations and volunteer work, and are they are the ones that most likely do not euthanize unless it absolutely certain it would be in the best interest for the animal.

I can tell you this though not all shelters and rescues are the same and there are legal issues that have to be dealt with sometimes, such as we are specifically a small animals and rabbits. So if some one shows up with a reptile or dog or cat we legally can't take it as much as some of us would like help the animal. Also every shelter is different in capacity limits, and there really isn't such thing as an average number of animals they can house that can be applied to all shelters and rescues. As it fully depends on how big the building is and where they located and how many people offer to be fosters.

As of now we have 10 guinea pigs in our rescue, but that number can change a lot, because unfortunately most of the time when we get a females surrendered to us there is a good chance she is pregnant. So one guinea pig can easily become 5 and same with hamsters or any small animal. For example someone had dropped off 5 hamster to us, most likely because they knew 3 of them where pregnant and didn't tell the staff this, so a few weeks later 5 hamster unexpectedly became 13.
Which leads me to the reason that maybe why only a few of the animals may be listed, is because most of time when we get in guinea pigs they are not in good shape they have over grown teeth and nails, are skinny or obese, and sick and are put on medical holds that can last for weeks before being healthy enough to be listed for adoption.

As for why the shelters/rescues aren't responding to volunteer aps? I can't answer that fully as again every shelter may have a different way of handling them. Maybe try going to the shelter during hours its open to the public, or directly calling?
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Thanks for the answers everyone :) I was just curious. I'll try calling directly next time :) That might work better.
The only shelter i know of in my area that takes small animals is a 20 min drive from where i live. i had to surrender one of my piggies baby's there because i couldn't find a home for him before he had sexually matured. (when i got Riley she was prago and i did not intentionally breed her) I check the shelter site often because i am thinking of adding a 3rd piggie to my little family. the site normally has pics up for the piggies and when they don't its normally because they just have been brought in. They also normally have 2 to 5 pigs in a one time but right know they have 2 pigs up and 6 rabbits.

Also just thought id share this, some shelters a way more streaked about who there animals go to are. When me and my mom where looking for a new dog to add to our family (are old one had passed away and the one we had left was getting really depressed without a friend) we went to our county's dog shelter after looking at there site and we had picked out a few and wanted to meet them. Well, when we where filling out our app to adopt one they wouldn't let use have one because our outside cat (she had been a stray that we found a few years ago and she never went away so claim her as ares) was not up to date on her shots. although she did have medical records of use taking her in and getting her shots when we first decided wed keep her and again when we had to take her in because someone had shot her with a bee-bee gun (who ever did that i hope gets shot in the gun with a shotgun and see hoe they like it) but they wouldn't let use have a dog! me and my mom where quit up set. Like, you'd rather put down a dog (we where only looking at dogs who were on the short list) then let use take it,who are responsible animal owners? it baffled use. So we ended up going to another dog shelter in the county next to use (this was a vary small shelter) And they didn't even ask use questions the dog we got had been beated and found starving on the side of the road and had been there for a few weeks and only had a few days left before they where putting her to sleep. We toke her home and she has been nothing but sweet and loving. it took her awhile to come out of her shell but she did and is happy! me and my mom will never understand y the other shelter turned use down (we know why they did we just don't think that was a good enough reason when theirs a life at stake) but we ended up with a little gem anyways :)
Newtocavies, the reason many people buy rather than adopt is either because they don't think about adopting, or they go in a pet store for something else, see the "cute little guinea pig," and take it home as an impulse purchase.

Both shelters and rescues are often understaffed. The shelter will have a few (sometimes one) paid staff person, and depend on volunteers for the rest of the work, and rescues usually are all-volunteer. They may not have anyone who's good at putting information on the internet. The people may work all day at other jobs and only have nights or weekends to respond to queries. Think short-staffed and over-worked when you think of rescues and shelters, and you won't be far wrong.

One reason a rescue with 100 pigs might not transfer to a smaller rescue is that the smaller one may be full at six pigs. A rescue may have one foster home, or many. Fewer is probably the norm.
Oh I see - I'm glad to hear it's not like I pictured. To be honest I always pictured the pound in lady and the tramp - I've never seen a pound or a shelter in my life. I've got a lot of spare time, so I'll try giving one a call and see if they need any help :) And if not, well at least I tried :)
Thank you both :) Why one who might have around 100 wouldn't transfer some to one that might only have a few? Is it a legal issue?

Who will transport them? Guinea pigs are often moved to different rescues when there is someone to transport them. Keep in mind that some rescues are licensed by the Dept of Agriculture in the state they reside and some, but not all, are non profits so they are governed by different rules and regulation. There are "rescues" that really aren't rescues but use that title to try and get people to buy their guinea pigs. When there are large scale rescues, reputable rescues are often contacted to see if they can take some of the guinea pigs in. Volunteers move them.
Critter Corral has at least 100+ guinea pigs.
No Spliting Hares Rabbit Rescue only has 6

Those 6 at No Splitting Hares, came from the shelter I volunteer at. Some guinea pigs were surrendered by their owner. I met and played with all of those pig and each one was super sweet and so lovely. Had they been male, I might have been tempted to adopt them myself.

On two of the six, I noticed signs of mites. I mentioned it to the vet there and he seemed befuddled on what to do about it. I mentioned using Ivermectin or Revolution. I don't know if they were ever treated for the mites because the next time I volunteered (the following week), they were already gone.

I think the reason you don't see many pigs in shelters is because people just don't realize that some shelters do take them. They would rather just set them free in a park or bring them to a vet to rehome.

I've adopted from Critter Corral before and ditto what was said earlier, they have over 100 guinea pigs in their rescue and some in foster homes. So there is no lack of guinea pigs in need of homes. You just have to look in the right places.
Shelters aren't always funded by through taxes. Our county animal control shelter is completely funded through donations and receives no government money. As far as rescues, there isn't necessarily a building. The rescue I volunteer with, Critter Corral, has foster homes where all the guinea pigs are kept. It's not unusual for there to be 100 guinea pigs or more housed in these foster homes. They do move guinea pigs between other rescues if one has a lot and another can take some in. As far as No Splitting Hares, it's a rabbit rescue that occasionally takes in guinea pigs. Their animals are all housed in an old farm house that's used solely for the animals. No one lives there. A lot of what a rescue can do depends on the number of volunteers they have. Sometimes people start up a rescue but get overwhelmed because they try and take it on alone. It really relies on the generosity of people to pitch in and help with every aspect of keeping the rescue going.
As far as I know, the building in Steger that Kris lives, isn't a foster home. Most of the pigs I've adopted from them, were housed there as well as many others. The only exception was Mickey who I adopted at one of their adoption events.

But I know they do have a network of foster homes.
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