Rescue Tails / The Migration

By Cathy Baier

Sometimes working at an animal shelter feels like living downstream from society, where the effects of the choices and actions of others ultimately are felt. No complaint, just a reality. These effects are magnified when it comes to small animals like hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits, often brought to us as multiples or entire families. A pregnant hamster is purchased, then gives birth to six.  Guinea pigs and rabbits purchased as pairs often reproduce and situations quickly get out of control. Ask any shelter or rescue who takes in small animalsthis is a common story!

We recently received twelve guinea pigs, bringing our population to sixteen when added to the four we already had. We immediately separated males from females, but it was too late. All eight of the females were pregnant! Our hamster population was also high. Some of the hamsters were surrendered as babies and already spent half their life with us with little interest from adopters. Unfortunately, adult hamsters and guinea pigs are not in high demand. The situation was out of hand, and we needed better options for these little guys. So, we reached out.

Finding responsible rescues for small animals isn’t easy! But as luck would have it, one of our rabbit rescue contacts up north had connections with a well-respected guinea pig rescue in the Northeast. They were full but referred us to a rescue in Pittsburgh, PA. We couldn’t believe our ears when they said they could take our guinea pigs, even knowing they would eventually receive many more than twelve, as babies were on the way. What was even more amazing? They worked closely with a hamster rescue willing to take our hamsters. After speaking at length with directors of both rescues, we felt assured our animals would be in good hands and would have a better chance of finding a home. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that Pittsburgh is over 1300 miles from Key West!

Situations like this bring to light the incredible people we share this earth with and what makes our work so fulfilling. We could go into great detail describing all that went into this transfer. The most challenging aspect was coordinating the transport, which went from Plan A to B to C, finally finding nine drivers with transport experience who each agreed to drive a leg of the journey from Key West to Pittsburgh. Once that was in place, we had to come up with safe housing that could fit in everyone’s car yet be safe and as comfortable as possible for our tiny travelers. The guinea pigs could travel together; the hamsters needed their own space. We could NOT have done this without the guidance and provisioning offered by the rescues who were more experienced than we were in long-distance transfers.

The morning of the trip, we got to the shelter at 3:00 AM to get everyone, along with supplies and food, packed for the two-day trip. At 4:00 AM on a Friday, our volunteer Natasha pulled away from the shelter with twenty-five precious lives in her van to make the first leg of the trip. For the next two days, we heard progress reports and by Sunday, except for one hamster, all our animals had arrived safely at their destinations. Only Goofy had managed to escape along the way but was later found in Natasha’s van. Goofy is now safely back at the shelter waiting for someone locally to give him a home. We are grateful to EVERYONE who made this northern migration successful and will be looking forward to happy updates.

[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]