Goodbye, Amber

Posted in Memorials at 9:03 am by ACR&S

amber-stinkyWe lost Amber yesterday. Amber came to the Wisconsin Guinea Pig Rescue in early 2008. She was incredibly skittish, to the point that her foster mom thought she might literally die of fright. She was also a satin, which is a very pretty breed that is unfortunately congenitally prone to osteodystrophy, a disease where the bones do not retain and deposit minerals correctly – some bones become thickened and some become thin and brittle. It was determined that between her behavior and potential medical problems, she would be hard to adopt, and in July 2008 she came to live with us at ACR&S as a companion to Elmer. When Elmer died a year later, Amber went to live with Shtinky, shown here. They have been together ever since.

Amber has never been a friendly pig, but with Shtinky’s calm companionship, she finally stopped assuming that we were constantly out to kill her. In the last six months or so she’s even learned that we are a good source of treats, and has started begrudgingly taking her c-tablets from our fingers!

Recently, Amber has been showing signs of ovarian cysts including enlarged and crusty mammary glands. Fortunately, a spay is usually an easy fix for this problem. She went into surgery yesterday with the wonderful Dr Gibbons at Brook Falls Veterinary Hospital. Prior to surgery, he guessed that she probably had a uterine tumor as well as the cysts. We discussed the chance that she might not make it through surgery and decided that he would evaluate as he went along; if the tumor was diffuse or involved with other organs, we would euthanise her on the table; if it could be removed easily, he would finish the surgery and we’d take our chances with recovery. During the surgery he found cysts on both ovaries, a huge uterine tumor – over 2.5″ long and nearly 5% of her body weight – and multiple adhesions between the tumor and the abdominal wall, the bladder, and the ureters. However, he was able to remove all of the tumor and adhesions without complications and we thought she’d be fine.  She woke up and was initially doing well during her post-surgical recovery period, but a few hours later she went shocky and we could tell it was time to let her go. She died peacefully without any pain.

We’re grateful to WI-GPR for giving us the chance to have this little girl in our lives. She was a wonderful and lovely little companion and we shall all miss her.


Goodbye, Chester

Posted in Memorials at 9:05 am by ACR&S

It’s been a busy week in the Sanctuary. We lost Chester on Friday May 14th. We noticed that he was down a little in weight and had a redued appetite on Sunday the 9th – this is why it’s important to always weigh your piggies frequently! His anorexia progressed into stasis, but we were able to stabilize him with assisted feedings and subcu fluid administration. On Thursday he was still not producing much poops and had started to have labored breathing, so we determined it was time for a vet visit. X-rays showed significant decrease in lung volume, as well as a large volume of air in the stomach and colon – he was swallowing air as he tried to breathe. The vet suspected an upper respiratory infection, but was hesitant to give antibiotics while he was already in GI distress, so we opted to wait another day and check the X-rays again to see if there was any improvement in lung condition. By Friday it was clear that he was losing the battle and we had him euthanized. Necropsy revealed mutiple nodules in the lungs which the vet suspects was lymphoma, although we are still awaiting the lab confirmation.

I’m very sorry to lose him and shall miss him, but I find comfort in the fact that he was over 7 years old. Sadie is still doing well and we’re getting ready to pair her with Douglas, another old man who recently lost his girlfriend.

Goodbye, Chester, and thank you for being such a sweet, wonderful companion to so many people over so many years!


Goodbye, Ms Piggy

Posted in Medical, Memorials at 8:50 am by ACR&S

We lost Ms Piggy today. She originally came to us from the Orange County Animal Shelter in late 2005, as a 2 or 3 year old by estimate.  We took her in to pair with our Jacksonville pig Cookie for an adopter in early 2006. The pair were returned after about 18 months, and both had lost a lot of weight. Between this and their age it was decided to make them Sanctuary residents.

Cookie died in July 2008 and Ms Piggy was paired with Brownie (shown here to her right). Brownie passed in September. During all this time we were still trying to resolve Ms Piggy’s low weight.

In October 2008 we found an excellent vet, Paul Gibbons, who finally discovered that Ms Piggy’s weight loss, poor coat condition, constant thirst, and hyperactivity was due to hyperthyroidism. Although the guinea pig rescue community is well aware of hyperthyroidism in pigs, there is very little clinical data and only one or two published case reports, and Dr Gibbons had to get creative at adapting the protocols for diagnosis (by measuring T4 levels) and for treatment. We started treatment with Tapazole and after a few months of dose adjustment, found a dose which worked wonders for her. She put on weight and her other behaviors normalized. In December 2008 she was paired with Douglas, and they’ve been together ever since.

Ms Piggy’s behavior last night was perfectly normal – begging for dinner, running from her medicine. Her weight has been up, and there was no indication at all that she was ill or even slowing down. We suspect that it was just her time to go. At the lowest estimate, she is at least 5.5 years old – the length of time she’s been in the rescue, even assuming she was much younger than we thought on intake. She could certainly have been as old as 7!

She has been a sweet pig and we’re sad to see her go, but so happy she was in our lives for this long. Goodbye, little girl.


Welcome Laverne and Shirley!

Posted in intakes at 6:00 am by Jenn

Laverne and Shirley entered the rescue approximately two weeks ago, with the help of our southern friends at Atlanta Metro Guinea Pig Rescue.  They had been contacted about these guinea pigs and while they were desperately full, they wanted to help.  Their owner had lost her job months earlier, and when the girls began to scratch, seize, and scream, she was unable to provide them with medical care.

Although the girls (especially Laverne) look as though they’re in dire straits and not long for this world, both of them are simply suffering from mange mites.  Mange mites in guinea pigs are species specific and relatively common.  So common, in fact, that we treat all guinea pigs entering our rescue as a preventative measure!  Though they are communicable, they do also exist naturally on guinea pigs in minute numbers which cause no symptoms.  Stress, illness, and other factors can cause ‘flare ups’ which may need help to be contained.

When left without treatment, the itching that mites cause will progress to serious hair loss, heavy wounds (as the poor guinea pigs scratch themselves desperately), and even seizures.  Heartbreakingly, we sometimes get calls about these poor bald pigs where the owners inform us that the guinea pigs are on their backs “trying to scratch”.  They are having painful convulsions.  If left long enough, they can cause death.  But this takes several months of neglect!

Mites are easily treated with ivermectin or Revolution (selamectin), and these girls are continuing their treatments with us.    In a couple of more weeks we hope to be able to do a ‘before and after’ unveil of beautiful, sleek girls.

shirleylaverneGreatest thanks go to our crack team of Cavy Couriers that helped us get these girls all the way from Georgia to North Carolina in one busy day!  (As well as providing them with some of the lushest 3rd cut of KMs hay I’ve ever seen!)


A happy ending for Mischa, Persia, and Morrigan

Posted in Adoptions at 6:00 am by Jenn

mmpMischa, Persia, and Morrigan found their happy endings with their new family!  Mischa and Persia were from a hoarder case that was broken in 2008! They’d been with the rescue since October of 2008.  Morrigan was left at a local animal shelter shortly afterwards as a baby.  They were put into a communal cage, and their roomates got adopted from around them, leaving the three.

Having fostered together for over a year and clearly closely bonded, we were determined that they would go home together, and we got our wish!

Penny and family (who run the illustrious Pig Pals of NC — a potbellied pig rescue helping our oinky friends) saw the girls and fell in love with the “old ladies”.  They went home to a wonderful new cage and quickly took over the duties of shoulder sitting, treat munching, and person bossing.

Thanks Penny and family for giving our elder lady rats a good retirement home, and for helping so many homeless pigs as well!


A happy ending for Duncan and Bryony

Posted in Adoptions at 6:00 am by Jenn

Duncan and Bryony have found their forever homes!  We despaired of ever finding a place for Duncan, who had earned notoriety duncanbryas a finger biter after he was surrendered to our vet’s office in Charlotte.  Purchased from Petsmart as a child’s toy, he came home with a respiratory infection and chlamydia (which manifests as eye infections in most grazing animals).  After being shaken and grabbed by a four year old and then having his poor sore eyes smeared with antibiotics three times a day for two weeks, he wasn’t what most people would call pleased with the situation.

After months of foster, he slowly lost his biting ways, was neutered, and fell in love with the beautiful Bryony, who tolerated his presence near her when she was in a good mood and if he was not too close.  Bryony had also painted herself into a corner by failing four separate introductions with four separate girl pigs!

Deborah and her daughter, Shannon, saw these two and wanted to give them a forever home.  Shannon, being an adult, was not likely to squeeze and shake Duncan, and their calm lifestyle was ideal for the somewhat high strung pair.  We arrived this Sunday with a C&C cage, constructed it on site, and had the piggies installed with a great big pile of hay.

Bryony arrived slightly soggy, having needed her skirt washed for excessive laziness and slothiness.  But as you can see, Duncan immediately started looking for the pellets.

Shannon also impressed us with this wonderful drawing of Duncan and Bry (now Zeke and Gigi):



A happy ending for Winnie and Leo

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by Jenn

Winnie and Leo have the distinction of being some of our longest fosters, and definitely our longest bunny fosters!  Anne and William were leolooking for another pair of bunnies to add to their life after the passing of their beloved Patches.  They saw Leo and Winnie on Petfinder and were interested in the pair!

The meeting between the two went well, and we prepared for their adoption on the 18th.   We carefully explained that Winnie was quite reticent and somewhat shy, and that she may take a week or two to warm up to her new surroundings, but that Leo was nearly bombproof and shouldn’t have any issues.  Leo had been carried to Rabbit Day in February and spent the entire time boredly rambling around the rabbit pens we brought with us while Winnie refused to leave the carrier.

Rabbits being rabbits, they set out to prove us wrong.  Winnie ambled out like she was returning to an old friend’s house, and Leo graced us with his unhappy face.  Serious disapproval was aimed at Andrea for interrupting his Sunday afternoon.

Despite Leo’s disapproval of his travel plans, Anne and William built an awesome rabbit palace for the pair and bunny proofed a playroom for them to enjoy.leowinnie They’re settling in wonderfully and arrived to a giant box of hay and plenty of interesting things to chew.

Thank you Anne and William for adopting Leo and Winnie in memory of your wonderful Patches.


Welcome Beatrice and Hero!

Posted in intakes, Sponsor A Guinea Pig at 10:09 am by Jenn

Beatrice and Hero are our newest intakes.  These two girls were left at a downtown library in Charlotte, NC.  The two were tied into a plastic Wal-mart bag and left in front of the library!beatricehero Luckily for these girls, the staff of the library kindly brought them in, and then bought them a cage and some provisions until they could find someone to take care of them.

We got a message about these girls, and Andrea, our Charlotte coordinator, was over there that afternoon.  We had expected literally anything when we got there — elderly guinea pigs in need of significant medical care, terrified babies that were barely handle-able, guinea pigs who had suffered a heat stroke…  and she arrived to two healthy, friendly girls who appeared to have been cherished family pets.

Their background is a mystery.  We believe they are between two and three years of age, but they could be as young as one or as old as five or six!  Although their nails were on the long side, they otherwise appeared to have suffered no neglect.

On that note, please never leave an animal outside in any location!  Most animal shelters will accept small animals.  Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Control does.  The people at the animal shelter are good people and go out of their way to try and find a home for every animal.  We watch the shelters routinely, and they call us when animals come in. Even if everyone is too full, and your pets end up euthanized, it is still a kinder death than the ones which happen outside.

Last year there were two guinea pigs abandoned in an office parking lot.  They weren’t as lucky — it was too hot.  One of the two died in my arms gagging and agonal about two hours after he arrived to the rescue (and that was with subcutaneous fluids, handfeeding, and a trip to the vet).  It is a miserable way for an animal to die, and abandoning or releasing an animal into the ‘wild’ (or even in an urban area) is a recipe dooming them to die of exposure to the elements, of becoming a snack to a lucky predator, or even of becoming the victim of a terrible person who would find it a ‘kick’ to harm a helpless animal.  Had these girls been a little less lucky or had someone not noticed them, they could have suffocated in the plastic bag they were abandoned in or died of heat stroke.

A domestic animal released outside does not live out a happy ever after.  It lives a shortened, frightening life before it expires or becomes food for another animal.

Goodbye Ori

Posted in Memorials at 6:00 am by Jenn

oriACR&S wishes a sad farewell to Ori the rat, who had been sanctuary with us for nearly two years.

Ori came to us with another rat named Patchy.  The two were surrendered because the owner’s cat kept pawing at the cage and trying to eat them.  A couple of short weeks after surrender, Patchy was found prone and gasping for unexplained reasons.  A trip to the emergency vet did not produce good news, and we lost her that evening.

Ori was left alone.  We deliberated what to do with him — he wasn’t a very adoptable rat.  He was scared of his own shadow (and everyone else’s) and would not accept treats, did not want to be social with people, and basically kept to himself.  We made the decision to bring him in as a sanctuary animal to help keep company to some of our other, more sickly rats (we had Phredre and Ysandre at the time).  He thrived in a quiet environment where he could laze in hammocks, inhale Suebee’s mix, and basically be respected as a scaredy-rat who didn’t want much to do with us.

About a month ago, we noticed that Ori seemed to be having heart problems.  X-rays weren’t conclusive, and we opted to try heart medication to see if we could improve his health.  He did get marginally better, but never really seemed to recover.  On his last day, he seemed to panic when I picked him up and began gasping heavily for breath.  We stabilized him at home and got him in to Dr. Munn first thing the next day.  We could never get his breathing entirely to normal and as he began to degenerate we opted to euthanize him.

Necropsy revealed that Ori hadn’t had a heart problem at all.  He had an enormous lung tumor that was pressing into his heart, mimicking the symptoms of heart disease.  We were comforted that, although we were wrong, we hadn’t missed a problem that we would have been able to solve anyway.  Lung cancers are fast moving and deadly.  Rest is peace, Ori, we were happy to have you as a friend for so long.


A happy ending for Lucas and Liam!

Posted in Adoptions at 6:00 am by Jenn

Congratulations to Lucas and Liam, two boars who were abandoned separately at the Charmeck Animal Control but who quickly bonded in foster.  They’d been with us since around

Lucas and LiamChristmas, and were apparently just waiting for Jennifer and her family to notice them and bring them home to their cavy palace!

Jennifer’s family had sadly lost a guinea pig to pneuomonia.  Though they were saddened by the loss, they knew they wanted to help another guinea pig who needed a home.  They sat through a quarantine period (just to be safe) with a lot of anticipation, and were finally able to welcome their new family members home the weekend of the 17th!

As you can see from the first picture, the initial cage exploration wasn’t very brave, but followup pictures show two happy guinea pigs enjoying some couch potato time!

Lucas/LiamThe new family reports that Lucas is the brave one, but Liam is slowly warming up.  Thanks again for the wonderful home for these two!

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