By Danielle Ray
STERLING – A herd of adorable guinea pigs are being lovingly cared for at the Worcester Animal Rescue League after a harrowing experience at Leominster State Park earlier this month.
City animal control officer Kelly Jones received a call Sept. 14 for mutual aid from the Princeton Fire Department for a water rescue at the state park. The Wachusett regional dispatcher had received a call from two men fishing, who reported that several guinea pigs were in the water at Paradise Pond. According to initial reports, the animals could not be reached by boat.
Jones answered from Holden, her two kayaks in tow, and asked for the backup of alternate Sterling ACO Emma Massa, who came from town with the van and ACO gear. When Jones arrived at the pond, she was briefed by firefighters: 10 guinea pigs had been picked up after being caught along the shore, and placed in a box.
Jones then contacted Tufts Small Animal Hospital to request that one of the guinea pigs be evaluated for injuries, which appeared to be bites from a larger animal, and that the other nine be evaluated and checked for injuries or illnesses. due to exposure. Jones and Massa flew the group to Tufts, where they all received evaluations. All but the one with bite wounds were released to the ACOs. The bite victim was admitted to hospital for further treatment
The duo brought the animals back to the Sterling Police Department where they were held overnight while WARL made room for them.
When asked how she felt when something like this happened to innocent creatures, Jones said she had “mixed emotions about those situations.”
“I am angry that the animals have been left alone in the elements without food or shelter, when they have no way to protect themselves or fend for themselves,” she said. “I also feel compassion for the owners, as they were obviously in a situation where they needed help, but ultimately took the wrong steps to handle their situation.”
She went on to say that while she understands “that people are overwhelmed with pets, … it’s not only unethical to dispose of an animal, but it’s also illegal,” and that People should follow the proper steps when handing over an animal, no matter what the situation.
“It could be financial hardship, reproductive issues, housing issues, or any number of other reasons why someone is no longer able or unwilling to care for their pet,” Jones said. “When this happens, they have a responsibility to take the right steps to get help. These steps include contacting a shelter or rescue to hand over the animal, contacting their animal control officer for assistance, or even posting to Facebook for assistance. There are many people online and sites and pages for adopting animals. ACOs can facilitate adoptions and have resources to help pet owners with the financial costs of vaccinations, spaying, and neutering. »
She pointed out that it is illegal not only to discard an animal, but also to neglect an animal or fail to provide adequate shelter, food and water.
“All of these things happen when an animal is thrown,” Jones said. “These fall under animal cruelty MGL c272 s77, which is a felony in Massachusetts, and the penalty is up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine for a first offense.”
She said the dangers of people dumping and abandoning animals are “most obvious” to animals, but there are other factors as well, and it breaks her heart to see situations like the one in which guinea pigs have found each other. “These animals rely on us to feed, house and care for them,” she said. “That can’t be done when they’re left alone. susceptible to predators when left out like this.Another potential problem is the spread of disease, and the introduction of non-native species into local species in the wild can also have negative and devastating effects.
Jones said if she had to guess, chances are someone bought two guinea pigs during COVID and didn’t know they had a male and a female.
“They started breeding, which they do at a high rate, and soon after, and they got overwhelmed with it,” she said. “Guinea pigs are pregnant for only nine or ten weeks, and they can have one to six young (in each litter) and up to five litters per year. This corresponds to the age of the individuals found. It there were a few that were 2-3 weeks old and a few that were 4 months old.
Most of the guinea pigs are all still at WARL, where the youngest will stay until they are old enough to be adopted. The 4-month-old females will be held for two months to verify the pregnancy, and the older males are placed in foster care and are available for adoption now.
Jones posted an update on social media the day after the rescue saying the bitten guinea pig had been treated and released from Tufts and was “resting comfortably at the SFD and will be reunited with the others tomorrow”. She added that his wounds were not new and were already healing, and he was being treated with antibiotics.
“I am beyond relieved that all of them survived their ordeal,” she said. “I can only hope they all end up in caring and loving homes.”
Anyone with information regarding the ownership of these animals or who has witnessed activity at Paradise Pond related to the found guinea pigs is asked to contact ACO Kelly Jones at the Sterling Police Department at 978-422-7331 or by e -mail to [email protected] govt. One last note: if you didn’t know, 10 guinea pigs equals one herd.