At the start of September, a month typically peppered with activities for back to school and fall, small animal rescues in Southern California learned that 152 guinea pigs had been surrendered by one owner to the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. The guinea pig community sprang into action to save these guinea pigs, with volunteers at Wee Companions Small Animal Adoption Inc. and Orange County Cavy Haven on the front lines.
On September 1, 2011, volunteers from Wee Companions, based in San Diego County, took 114 guinea pigs from the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. According to Debbie Rothstein, lead guinea pig volunteer with Wee Companions, the group consisted of approximately 30 females (1 month in age or older), at least 40 babies (mix of male and female) less than 1 month old, and the rest males.
Susan Lee, CEO of Orange County Cavy Haven, said her rescue took in 38 guinea pigs — 16 males and 12 females. She noted that earlier that week Orange County Cavy Haven took in 22 other guinea pigs from the same shelter; those were part of an animal-cruelty case. Of the 38 from this rescue, she said they all had varying stages of mites and scurvy. She also suspects that they’re inbred and might have other underlying health concerns.
The guinea pigs at Wee Companions also face health concerns. “Most were suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, and mites — causing hair loss and itching,” Rothstein said. She said that the females were in worse shape than the males, guessing that this might be because of repeat back-to-back litters of pups. She believes that every female older than 4 weeks is likely pregnant. “Gestation is 59 to 73 days for guinea pigs, so it will be some time before we know exactly how many.”
Rothstein reported that two females already gave birth since the September 1 rescue. “The first one died, along with her single pup, within 24 hours of delivery. The other female delivered three pups on September 4th. That mom and pups are doing OK so far.”
Food, bedding, vet care, other supplies, foster homes and adopters for healthy guinea pigs are some of the most pressing needs for both Wee Companions and Orange County Cavy Haven. Rothstein noted that cash donations are the most useful at this time. Lee said that monetary donations help cover vet care, food and bedding. The website for Wee Companions and the website for Orange County Cavy Haven have further information about helping.