With all of the craziness going on around the world, including high food and gas prices, animal shelters are seeing an unusually high rate of animal surrenders in the U.S. Usually, it’s dogs and cats that make up the brunt of the creatures finding their way to homelessness, but there is one animal, in particular, that is currently topping the list: guinea pigs! Yes, the adorable little balls of fluff are apparently turning up in droves. But why?
According to information provided to The Guardian, rescues and shelters are grappling with the challenge. Recently, they were told by New York’s Animal Care Centers (ACC) that they’ve seen a 25% uptick in surrenders from this year over those in 2021.
“It’s really sad, people crying. It’s a part of their family. But if you’re choosing between feeding your family and feeding your pet, your choices are limited,” Katy Hansen, director of marketing and communications at ACC, told them.
“Guinea pigs purchased during the pandemic are being returned in droves,” Hansen added. “On average, at this point in the year, we’ve taken in 200 guinea pigs. This year we’re over 650.”
Exploding Animal Shelter Populations
Not all shelters accept guinea pigs, making the situation that much sadder. AAC is the only shelter in New York that does. So, for the most part, people are getting the popular pets through pet stores, rather than as rescues.
The Guardian piece aptly points out that “Unlike animal shelters, pet stores don’t vet potential buyers who are probably thinking a smaller animal that is content to spend its life in a confined space would require less work, energy, and money than a dog or cat.”
The animals are predominantly purchased for little kids, and they’re not as upkeep-free as many people assume they are.
Cost of Small-Pet Ownership
As stated, many people are under the impression that they’re cheaper to keep as pets than, say, cats or even dogs, but that’s not necessarily true.
For instance, guinea pigs need to have their bedding changed frequently, and the materials used for that purpose aren’t free or even low-cost anymore.
You can always wing it with newspaper, but it’s not ideal for maintaining the health of the animals. They also do best with fresh fruits and vegetables added to their diets, and produce is anything but cheap right now.
Consider that they can live to be 10, and you can start to see the problem. Vet bills can be higher with small animals, too.
Add to all this that people get bored with their latest acquisitions when the “new car smell” wears off, and they’re ready to move on. It’s not exactly responsible pet ownership, but it’s the reality of the situation. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, give the idea more than a precursory once over and consider adopting a rescue animal above all others.
This article by Rebecca West was first published by The Animal Rescue Site. Lead Image: PHOTO: PIXABAY/ALEXAS_FOTOS.
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