VICKI OF JPGPR AND HOW HER RESCUE BEGAN
Reprinted with permission:
Vicki of Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue describes how she started her rescue and offers advice to anyone interested in starting their own (reprinted with permission):
"When I started my cavy rescue in 1993 I already had quite a few years and many contacts in my "animal background". During the 8 years before going strictly into rescue I was an ACBA breeder/exhibitor and wrote many articles for the ACBA newsletter. I got to know many of the breeders and judges attending shows in the area, and sometimes acted as judges assistant at some of the shows. In 1993 one of my Teddy boars won Best of Breed at the ACBA National Convention.
"Eventually I realized I was adding to a serious problem of too many cavies and not enough responsible, loving, PERMANENT homes. I decided to stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. Thanks to the wonderful knowledgeable vets I've had work on my animals and my own great interest in cavy health - I've gotten pretty good at treating sick cavies and keeping my own large herd (currently 72) in good shape. Working at a vet clinic for 6 years also gave me some good medical experience and a lot more contact with animal people, including other veterinary clinics. Before getting so busy with cavy rescue I enjoyed training and showing my dogs in AKC obedience competition. Some of the people I know work or volunteer at human societies and often call me with cavy questions. Since moving up to our rural home 20 years ago I have been a proud member of my county humane society.
"The longer I've been in rescue, the more wonderful people I've met that also do animal rescue of some kind. All of these contacts lead to other contacts, word of mouth referrals, and friend of a friend acquaintances. When I went into rescue it really didn't take long for word to spread about it. I also hand carried or mailed letters to many of the animal shelters (most of them 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours drive away) introducing myself, stating my experience and goals, and listing quite an impressive group of animal involved people for references. To tell you the truth, I was soon getting many more calls and surrenders than I had expected.
"In 1995 I started a shelter newsletter, which also helps keep me in people's minds and helps spread the word. I do charge a small subscription fee, but send newsletter free to local animal shelters/human societies and vet clinics that are interested in getting it. Some leave the newsletter out for clients to see. I even have a wonderful supplies-only pet store that takes a stack of newsletters so they can hand them out to clients. Over the last few years a couple different local newspapers have done front-page stories about my shelter.
"Have you tried personally introducing yourself to shelter managers - preferably with a letter bragging about yourself and your goal, and a nice business card so they can keep your name and phone number handy? Do the same with vet clinics, and any pet stores that are willing to work with you. Maybe you have to go a little further from home to find cavies in need. Check the "dog pound", too. Tomorrow I'm picking up a boar who has been at a city pound too long. Watch newspaper and local shopper ads for people wanting to give away or sell cheaply their no longer wanted cavies. Check out public bulletin boards at vet clinics, pet stores, grooming shops, grocery stores, etc. I think you'll find the longer you're in rescue and the more you talk to people about it, word will spread that some crazy woman is willing to take in unwanted cavies and eventually the calls will start pouring in. How about some easy advertising like a cavy theme button or shirt? Gives people an excuse to ask you about cavies, which of course gives you a chance to start talking about your rescue. You might also want to check The Worldwide Shelter Directory for a list of shelters and humane societies in your area: www.h4ha.org/ "
Note: Vicki's archived website can be found at jpgpr.guinealynx.info