How do I start my own rescue?

Currently anyone can start a guinea pig rescue subject to their councils wishes regarding certain things. Councils do differ in some areas.

However, there are a number of things to take into consideration when rescuing/fostering.
Firstly, giving guineas a Forever Home is just as important as rescuing/giving temporary accomadation. Without Forever Homes we can’t rescue more guineas and at RGPR we are reluctant to rehome to homes with many guineas.

Consider what you will make your limit.

Generally you will take in more than your original limit because life’s like that and guineas don’t come in perfect numbers that fit in with your plan, but its important to know when you’re over your limit! The thing that keeps my feet on the ground and stops me from saying ‘yes’ to taking in more guineas is the cleaning out. I refuse to have any help with cleaning out, its the only way I know for certain that I have too many and need to reduce numbers before I take in anymore :)

How will you pay vet bills?

Pet owners have a legal responsibility to ensure their pet receives medical attention when needed (AWA 2007). Rescues are no different. Fostering for or helping at an RSPCA centre takes care of this issue. Without the security I get from the RSPCA financially there is no way RGPR could exist. Other contributions from Gorgeous Guineas help immensely.

Do you have a guinea pig competent vet nearby?

You will most likely be seeing more of the vet than the average pet owner, its worth finding a good one or at least one that will listen and take on board what you might have to say. In the long run this will save you money and your guineas unnecessary suffering. Furthermore local guineas will benefit from the experience the vet is gaining from treating your guinea pigs. However be careful to work with a vet that actually takes an interest in guinea pigs. Not all vets like small animals its not really fair to expect them to take a particular interest if they are unwilling. I wouldn’t want someone who is unhappy and not confident, treating my guinea pigs. Work with a vet don’t bully them or expect miracles :) Co-operation works both ways :)

How will you rehome your guinea pigs?

Take into consideration whether or not you want people visiting your house. This is the only way if you are going to match guinea pigs together and give them a choice of friend. Neighbours should be respected and not have to put up with cars coming and going all day or worse not being able to park their own cars!
Newspapers are another vehicle for publicity but be aware that they may edit what you write or publish things you’d rather they didn’t. People may see an article in the paper as a desperate appeal and offer to fill their empty hutches with your rescues, which might not be quite what you had in mind if you are going for quality homes rather than quantity.

Do you want to be recognised as the local ‘guinea pig person’? This has lead to the break in of sheds in the past and guinea pigs have been stolen. Always keep shed doors padlocked and windows wired over.

The internet is a good vehicle for rehoming and email is free! It’s useful to have a website or at least have your details on one.

Posters in your local vet are a good place to advertise and generally be known. RGPR regularly holds open days at the local vets, by using them as hosts insurance, health and safety are all taken care of, leaving us with the important job of raising awareness!

Who will do your homechecks?

Fostering is hard work. It is good to have a team, even if it is just a two person one to take the pressure off and to have someone you can trust for a second opinion, or just to let off steam to! Think about the areas you will cover for rehoming (and possibly for taking in guineas).Often transport can be arranged for guinea pigs but guinea pigs have died being transported around the country (because it was done ‘incorrectly’) so think long and hard before putting someone in charge of one of your guineas. Other factors to consider are who owns the guinea pig while it is being transported? Are there insurance issues that need to be thought about? Probably the best reason for not transporting guinea pigs to new homes is the fact that there are many all over the country. All RGPR guinea pigs are collected by their new Humans.

How Long do you intend to keep rescue pigs?

Guinea pigs often don’t find a home for months, can you take them on indefinitely?

What will your adoption donation be?
Donations are important, they contribute to the upkeep of the guins you currently have and those coming in.

How will you dispose of the waste created?
Cage cleaning will create lots of waste that will need disposing of, consider how you will do this and the costs it entails.

As a reputable rescue you will know what the Animal Welfare Act 2007 expects.

Information sources should be made available by yourself and these should at the very least comply with the Animal Welfare Act.

Another major factor to consider when you take in guinea pigs is the amount you will be able to rehome. This can only be done, realistically, after a few years, find out the number that can be rehomed in your area to AWA compliant homes and use this as a guide as to how many to take in.

Taking in large numbers of guineas is admirable but the admiration stops there if you are unable to find AWA compliant homes locally for them.

It does sound harsh, but somewhere along the line someone needs to know that there is an excess of guinea pigs. All guinea pigs that end up at RSPCA branches are accounted for and will go towards the ‘unwanted animals’ data, it only gives us a pigture of what’s going on and everyone (including the RSPCA!) knows it’s the very tip of a huge iceburg as there are lots and lots of privately run rescues and the RSPCA figures don’t include these :-/ Hopefully these figures will prove useful, one day…. ::)

Rescue is in a prime position for furthering knowledge and raising awareness both amongst the genral public and with willing vets. However, rescues also have the responsibility of not advertising and promoting guinea pigs in a way that makes them become desirable, must have pets that are often rehomed out of sympathy, only to end up being rehomed again further down the line.

copyright Karen LeCras, Reading Guinea Pig Rescue 2008, all rights reserved.

Do remember that without Forever Homes rescue couldn’t continue and there are only a certain number of good homes available.

Mr. Softy was taken in (or rescued as it is sometimes referred to) out of sympathy, however when a new home didn’t materialise his temporary hutch became insecure and he was an easy target for predators and the boar he was housed with started to bully him. However due to a lack of cages separation was not an option, until one of them died and a neighbour stepped in and brought him to us. When he is ready he will go to a new home.