I have some questions...how do you become a rescuer?
Also, when you are one does anyone supply you will funds to take care of the guinea pigs or do you have to pay for everything out of your own pocket?
Do you have vet. experience? I noticed several posts saying that you have alot of guinea pigs that need medical attention...do you know this from experience and from being able to test them yourselves or do you have to take each and every guinea pig to the vet?
Sorry for the questions, but I was telling my husband that one day I would love to be a rescue place for animals. I do have a lot of room in my basement/rec-room for me to do that. I know you have heard me say I have limited amount of room, but that is only because I have my two guinea pigs and they are more like our pets and I wouldn't be downstairs a ton (I have them right next to my desk now and can spend time with them). But if I had more guinea pigs to care for (and adopt out) then I would be down there more (heck, just cleaning their cages, feeding them and playing with them) would keep me down there for a while, I am sure.
Thanks for your help.
- I GAVE, dammit!
I've been a rescuer for a few months now and can tell you there's nothing else as rewarding. I have spent a considerable amount of money, and don't really mind. You do get a little bit back when you adopt out animals to new families, but by and large that fee is used more to discourage unworthy persons than it is to really help you with your expenses.
You have to decide what your animal-limit is, and make sure you have a) the room for that many animals, b) the supplies: (cages, bedding, water bottles, food dishes, pigloos, food, hay, and fresh veggies), c) the time to adequately CARE for each animal and d) the money to pay for vet visits when necessary.
Some vets will give you a discount once you've established yourself in their minds as a rescue organization. It is not usually enough to bring two or three animals in and announce that you're a rescue. If you are interested in becoming a rescuer, go around and talk to some cavy-knowledgable vets. Ask if they will let you look in on some procedures. Carefully evaluate your candidates, be professional, and then ask if they would be willing to set you up on a rescue program. At that time, they might show you some of the basic medical things that rescuers take care of: lice and mite treatments, as well as minor illnessess requiring antibiotics. With a good vet, a new rescuer can learn a TON and become experienced.
You have to also advertise. Post your animals on the web, make flyers, hand out business cards to the local shelters and humane societies. www.cavyspirit.com and www.cavyrescue.com have great information about becoming a rescue.
All it takes is love of animals, a little financial backing, and most of all, TIME. Someone has to clean all the cages, and someone has to hold and pet and love on the pigs!
If you foster animals, you get a taste of things. There are pros and cons to running your own rescue -- and for people who do not have alot of time, it can be frustrating to deal with the public. Ask any rescuer who spends hours checking potential adopters out.
Time and money. And the desire to make a difference.
- I GAVE, dammit!
Most of the rescued pigs that come in have medical problems of some sort. If not medical problems, they have socialization issues. You literally HAVE to spend at least 30 mins a day with each animal to really know them - Know if they might not be feeling well, if they have too much of an attitude and need to be taken down a rung, or even just to know what veggies they will or won't eat. It is not enough to simply have pigs in cages and throw them food. A lot of times you really have to work with the animals to either get them well, or get them trusting humans. Nobody will want to adopt a pig they can't catch out of the cage.
Also, it always seems to happen that JUST when you sit back and think to yourself, "Wow, I have $100. I could go buy some books, or take my lover out to dinner.." a pig will inevitably fall deathly ill FIVE SECONDS after that thought crosses your mind. And, well, you know what has to come first.
I don't think we've gone out together in months! Our entertainment consists of nightly "Veggie Time" for the kids. They are too cute fighting over parsley. I don't think I miss going out too much.
I don't know how much money it would take but I have a feeling that I wouldn't have it if most of the money that you put into the vet bills, etc., would come from my pocket.
But..I do like your idea of becoming a foster parent for these little ones. I don't know if I could get my husband to go for the idea but I think I might start trying.
Actually, lol, I mentioned to him about getting another male and another female (unless my female is pregnant) because when I separate them they might get lonely so if I had another one to put in with each of them that might help. But, my husband said no way! So I told him that in a few weeks we should know if she is pregnant...if she isn't then we need to talk about that idea again.
--I have a non-profit checking account (no charges)
--I get donations of hay, pellets, and care fresh
--The grocers give me "cuttings," or veggie scraps
--I do not pay adoption fees to rescue pigs from shelters
--I get low-cost spay and neuter
--They advertise for me on their website and Petfinder
--I attend functions and adoptions with them--its a great way to disseminate information and meet potential adopters.
--I have access to grants and corporate donations, although I haven't had time to do this yet!
--They are going to start buying Coroplast wholesale for me
And this all happened by sheer accident. I called them looking for a guinea pig rescue in my area. They started handing me guinea pigs to foster and now I have 25 and they all refer to me as "Guinea Pig Nikki." So I handle all their guinea pig rescue and adoptions.
But most rescuers have to go it alone, and becoming an official non-profit means mounds of paperwork and extra regulations. Sometimes people give you breaks along the way--my vet has started waiving some fees for me even though I didn't ask him too, and the coffee shop by my house saves newspapers for me.
But it's a huge undertaking. When it comes down to daily care, I have no help. I can't tell you the last time I had time to do my hair. Some days I eat nothing but junk food because I don't have time to sit down and eat. And I am regularly cleaning cages and giving medications until 1:00 a.m. Frequent trips to the vet and grocery store and feed barn. Phone calls and emails all day long. Hay all over the house.
And remember, once you get into it, you get sucked in good. Overnight it seemed that I became "known" and now vet offices, other rescuers, and shelter volunteers are always calling me because there literally is no one else in the area doing guinea pig rescue. So now I have a heavy responsibility.
I would think that the idea to foster is a good one. I rely on my fosters to take pregnant pigs and overflow. So you would be helping out rescuers a great deal by doing this.
Oh, and some knowledge of animal illnesses is very helpful. I don't have any veterinary experience, but I have a long history of dealing with sick animals. Sadly, I gained much of this experience working as the "back room" person in pet stores. This is the employee who spends all of her time caring for the sick animals, giving them vaccinations, running them back & forth to the vet. And then I was a pet sitter, which exposed me to a lot of different types of animal care. But the greatest resource for me has been this site. I don't know what I'd do without it!
It does help to have moral support. I think it is super that you are getting more than that.
- Me, too!
I started doing rescue mostly by accident. The store where I buy my supplies takes in pets for the local humane society (owner dumps) and one day one of the salespeople asked me if I would take in a pig that was an owner dump. This prompted a call from the Humane Society, and more dumps :)
Rescues not too bad until you get a very sick pig, and like your own pets, it gets very expensive very quickly. If money is a big issue, I would encourage you to NOT begin rescuing.
- I GAVE, dammit!
I lucked into meeting someone from the House Rabbit Society, and she and I stay in touch and refer each other to different shelters whenever we find out about pigs or rabbits in need. She's donated cages, water bottles, supplies, and a shoulder to lean on when we get frustrated. She even helps arrange transport for me from out of state shelters, and lets me adopt under her Shelter ID# so we don't have to pay any fees to Humane Societies or Animal Control Facilities.
Another lady in town, a representative from Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends, Inc., has also been really helpful. She is lobbying different petstores in our metro area to be allowed to have a "small animal" stand or area whenever they have adoption days of cats and dogs outside the different petstores. I have now been included in this effort, and get sent emails notifying me of the next adoption day(s) should I want to pack up my car and bring some pigs.
My vet gives me a 25% discount on all procedures and medicines/supplies, and sometimes gives pigs an office visit without even charging. She'll throw more than one pig on an X-Ray to keep costs down, and lets me have larger bottles of medicine so I can treat certain things at home without having to make an appointment for every pig that sneezes. She is also very sweet and if I call with a non-emergent question and leave a message, she'll call me back after closing time (usually around 7pm) and spend a few minutes answering my questions. I bring her pages to read from this site and she is always open to suggestions. She even agreed to write a letter on her vet's stationery that indicates that she regards me as a rescue, in case I ever need to prove it to anyone. Without her patience and support, my rescue would never have gotten off the ground.
Other rescuers have also given me lots of help. Most of them I've met through this site, but a few of them found me through places like Petfinder. The nice lady at the Knoxville rescue is shifting pigs to me when she is full, and will help me buy Colorplast in bulk for cheap. She also refers potential adoptees to me and I to her, since we're only 3 hours away from each other and one of us is usually closer to somebody. EVERYONE on this site has been absolutely fantastic - Putting up with my learning curve, offering advice and good humor when I get stressed out, and generally being friends when I was just starting out and to silly to even know how to use a message board. I really do thank you all.
My vendors have also been kind. The local PetCo lets us walk out of the store all the time without paying for bags of food and hay. The small animal manager there feels that for the work we're doing, we shouldn't have to pay as much for stuff and will give us "buy one get one free" coupons for ANYTHING in the store. And if the coupon doesn't say EXACTLY whatever it is we want, he gives it to us anyway. I just met a lady who sells wholesale fabrics, and she is going to give me 40% off any fleece that I buy, simply because I'm a rescue and she has a soft spot for animals.
I have no foster parents lined up just yet, but am hoping to cultivate some soon. So far everyone has been very kind, and has made learning about being a rescuer very easy. Like I said before, it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life... But it did take a lot of work to get here.
But on the other hand, working from home and living rent-free (my parents are turning their condo over to me when they move in March) helps too. I can be there for the sick animals most of the time.
However, someone who works full time or is a full-time student...I just don't know how they would do it. It's an enormous commitment of time.
- I GAVE, dammit!
Para and I have a pretty good schedule worked out. I wake up (or she wakes me up) -- do my morning routine, get ready for work, cook some breakfast (time permitting), give the critters meds (or Para will) and head off to work. Para will usually go down for a 'nap' (as I call it... she calls it 'sleep'. No way I would ever be able to function on the amount of sleep she gets). And since she works from home, she is home with the pigs all day long. I get home around 6:30pm-ish and will try to cook dinner (assuming Para hasn't beaten me to the punch!), do the evening meds, have "Veggie Time!!!" (one of my favorite parts of the day!!! I swear, I have to videotape "Veggie Time!!!" at some point). Hold and love on the guys for as long as I can, then clean the house. Meanwhile, Paravati is *STILL* working, and will maybe catch a nap. I'll get her up no later than 11pm-ish (as I'm going to bed) and she then gets up for the evening to do (you guessed it) more work. And she spends quite a LOT of time with them in the evenings. So, when I get up in the morning, I get to hear about the crazy antics that transpired while I was asleep! hehe
It all works out.
So, as anybody can see -- if Paravati worked a 9-5, there'd just be no way we can do what we do. Rescuing animals has always been a tucked away fantasy/dream of mine. Funny though, I always imagined it'd be cats. I'm now a "guinea pig person" now. :)
I agree--9 to 5 really wouldn't cut it. How would you do all the antibiotics, probiotics, foot baths, butt baths, heat compresses, abcess flushing, hand feeding....?
My vet asked me today how many I have adopted out...on a quick count it was 30 since October. Wow.
Sometimes, when I take a look at my 8 piggies, I wish I could have more since I know I can give them a good home, good food, vet care, etc. I feel bad that I dont give them a lot of individualized attention. Part of that has to do with my allergies. I am VERY allergic to guinea pigs and, as a result, I dont have a lot of physical contact with them.
One of my dreams is to maybe one day run a guinea pig rescue, on a small scale but I dont think that would be possible since I live in an apt right now, I have severe allergies to piggies, I work full-time and go to school part-time, which is a major drain on me right now, and I have a lot of health problems. Right now, the eight piggies I have are already a handful with the food, bedding, and vet bills, and cage cleaning bills. I know I am bad, I hire someone to come in to clean out my guinea pig cages. My asthma has gotten a lot worse this past few years. I think my asthma problems have more to do with the cold climate I live in, rather than the piggies themselves.
Again, I commend all of you who have dedicated your lives to saving and rescuing piggies. LIVE ON!!!!!