When the Catskill Game Farm closed in October, many of its animals were put up for auction to the highest bidder. With the farm's array of animals ranging from small exotics to hoofstock to wildlife, animal rescue and sanctuary organizations loudly protested the jeopardy that the auction placed all the animals in. Unable to reach an alternative agreement with the farm's owner, a coalition quickly formed, raised money, and headed to New York State to save as many animals as possible by outbidding everyone else.
Among the animals in jeopardy were 26 rabbits and 40 guinea pigs. Using donated funds, coalition members successfully bid on these animals and got them out of harm's way. Rescues in New York and Michigan stepped up to take the rabbits, and The Critter Connection was scheduled to go that Sunday to get the guinea pigs and bring them to Connecticut.
Rescuers on-site that Saturday, however, realized they had to get the guinea pigs out that day. They told us:
[One of the volunteers] had discovered the guinea pigs in a hell hole. Many of them were skin and bones, had no water, only some pellets, and were saturated with their own urine. She said the stench was unbearable. [She] also discovered a second group of guinea pigs in a pit waiting to be live snake food.
Crawling around in all the filth, [she] was able to get many of them out. [She] took all of the pregnant females, Animal Nations took others. As guinea pig space had run out, and as [another volunteer] was there and on her way to Chenoa, she helped to gather up the guinea pigs as well. Seeing the urgent need for veterinary care, she volunteered to take 24 guinea pigs to Chenoa.
Because males and females were kept together in the same pen, all of the females either have been confirmed pregnant or are assumed to be so. Although all the guinea pigs were brought out of the farm alive, nearly a dozen were so sick that they didn't survive the emergency transport to a rescue/exotic vet who volunteered to take in the pigs temporarily.
A week later, the Critter Connection took in 10 guinea pigs, including 7 new babies, and will bring the remaining pigs to Connecticut when they are strong enough to travel. Once the pigs are healthy, they will be put up for adoption.
While the guinea pigs are coming along in their rehabilitation, there are heartbreaking moments to be found in even the most routine activities. They all eat like they're afraid they'll never see food again. They all drink like they're afraid they'll never see water again. While we know they're on the road to better lives, it's devastating to think that anyone would neglect any animal to the extent that these guinea pigs had been.
When you have some time, check out the coalition's discussion board. The conversations that took place before, during, and after the auction and rescue effort -- as well as more recent discussions about some legislation up for review at the federal level -- is an encouraging testament to how many people are out there who are willing to rally and fight for the animals on this planet.
Hopefully, more will join the cause.