KERRI OF BAKERSFIELD GUINEA PIG RESCUE
Reprinted with permission:
Kerri describes how her small rescue has helped the lives of guinea pigs through outreach and by working with people looking to find new homes for their pets. I found this article both inspiring and practical.
Hello Everyone and Everypig,
Small scale gp rescue projects can be effective -- every little bit helps. I live in a two bedroom condo...and right now I have twelve piggies, (and my husband is totally flipped out about it)! I know that seems like a small number compared to the larger gp rescues, but for me it is a lot of piggies, (and for my husband it is a multitude). At any rate, I suppose that each gp rescuer has to do what they can...and, I frequently remind myself of the words of Mother Teresa: "You can do no great things, only small things with great love."
When I first began rescuing piggies, (in January 2000), I felt such a sense of desperation...so many pigs, so little time and resources...I wanted to take in every pig I possibly could (and I would have, if not for the restraints placed on me by my husband -- who by the way, is financing my whole guinea pig rescue operation, which averages around $200. - $300. per month -- the advertising alone takes a large part of the funds).
However, I soon found that I could, (and must, in order to help larger numbers of piggies), participate in rescuing guinea pigs in more ways than one...for instance, now when I get calls from families that no longer want their piggies...I go and evaluate the situation...and usually talk the owners into "fostering" their piggie until I can find a home for the piggie...thus, saving space at my place for less fortunate piggies. I assist people looking to get rid of their guinea pig, by giving them a copy of "How to Get Rid of a Guinea Pig" from the Home for Unwanted Guinea Pigs website (which usually helps them to refocus their perspectives)...then I show them how to take better care of their piggie...trim the nails, bathe the pig, and recommend treatment options for medical ailments if needed (nine times out of ten, these piggies are in a neglected condition...hair loss, etc.). Sometimes, after we get the piggie into shape, the household starts enjoying their piggie and decides to keep the pig! (I have found, that usually, if people care enough to call and see if I will take their unwanted piggie, they also care enough to properly foster their piggie until a good, safe, home can be found). So, I have helped a lot of piggies just by implementing this system.
Another thing I do is talk to elementary school classes...teachers let me bring in a pig or two to show to the class, and all of my guinea pig books (I have all of Peter Gurney's books -- which the kids love to peruse, and I also take Katy Duke's storybooks that feature guinea pigs), and I give a short talk about proper guinea pig care...then I give out my phone number and tell the children to have their parents call me if they would like to come see the rescue piggies and perhaps adopt a piggie.
Since I have an almost continuous ad running in the classified section of the local newspaper, I also get phone calls night and day from people with piggies that have medical emergencies...and happily, I have persuaded countless piggie owners to take their piggie to the only good guinea pig vet (here in this hick town of mine)...and later, I am so pleased to hear from my vet that the piggies were indeed brought in and have made good recoveries.
I have learned that it is important for gp rescuers to reserve enough time to spend some time and effort on community outreach...such as hanging up gp rescue posters all over town, monitoring local pet shops and/or feed stores, harassing piggie mills, and, talking to the press about guinea pig cruelty issues, (so that they can in turn, enlighten the community). Well, I have rambled on enough...at any rate, I agree with others that have posted messages about gp rescue work, people need to understand that rescuing guinea pigs is a serious, multifaceted, proposition...oh, and most important...a guinea pig rescuer must have a heart of steel and a tremendous amount of courage...in order to withstand the onslaught of heartbreaking situations that a gp rescuer will run across. (I have very little courage, and such a "weak" heart, that I have oftentimes thought that perhaps I am not up to this task...but I have so many piggies counting on me, that I have not been able to quit, even though I contemplate it often).