A happy ending for Nina and Leda

Posted in Adoptions at 7:00 am by Jenn

Nina & LedaA very happy ending to Nina and Leda!  The day after New Year’s, these two adorable piggies went to their forever home.

Meg and family had lost two beloved cats in 2008, and their family was looking for another pet.  Their girls had wanted guinea pigs, and after much research and forethought, the parents agreed — they would make a good family pet that everyone could enjoy!  It was difficult for them to pick from among so many eligible piggies, but the eventually settled for Nina and Leda.

The adoption was picture perfect!  Leda showed off her highly developing eating skills while Nina showed off her camouflage skills (more than once we couldn’t tell which end was which!)  After a session to meet the family, the girls settled into their new piggie palace and helped themselves to a salad!

A huge thanks to Meg and her wonderful family for offering these girls (now Truffles and Penny) a forever home, and for helping ACR&S to start off a wonderful new year with a slew of quality adoptions!


A happy ending for Machu

Posted in Adoptions at 7:00 am by Jenn

machuMachu the chinchilla, after spending over a year in foster, finally went to his forever home for the new year.  SciWorks, a learning museum in Winston Salem, is working on a brand new “South America” exhibit.  They approached us, wanting to patronize rescue since there were so many animals looking for homes.  They wanted one or more chinchillas that were friendly and approachable, and would make suitable program animals.

Machu had been looking for the perfect place to go — he is an amazingly friendly guy who’s outgoing personality never failed to win over strangers.  He is also an adept beggar, so when we dropped him off we made sure that they knew that his little doe eyes hid the world’s best scam artist.

So far, staff are reporting that he’s a big hit (although his enclosure isn’t ready) and that everyone’s day is brightened as he begs for chin scratches and treats!

Thanks so much to the kind and caring staff at SciWorks for providing a forever home for Machu, and for going out of their way to provide an ideal environment for him to reside in!


A happy ending for Homer

Posted in Adoptions at 7:00 am by Jenn

Shortly before Christmas, Homer the Non-Homing Pigeon had his happily ever after!Homer Pigeon We were contacted by a pigeon afficianado living out near Andrea in the western part of the state.  Ricky told us all about his pigeon loft, complete with fenced, outdoor aviary which allows the birds to go out and fly and exercise as they please.

Homer is now living happily with an entire flock of pigeons.  According to his new dad, he is fitting in amazingly and is making friends left and right.

Thanks to all the pigeon folks that called and emailed to make sure that Homer was going to a good home and to give us excellent advice for making sure that he was happy in the meantime!


A great new year for Sundance!

Posted in Adoptions at 12:35 pm by Jenn

sun-e-and-day-zEarly in December, Zoë, an HRS member and rabbit-servant extraordinaire, from SC contacted us looking for a third for her pair of middle aged bunnies.  She really wanted them both to have someone in case one of their friends passed away.  She had seen the profiles on our prison bunnies and had liked the look of Sundance.  We emailed back and forth, she filled out an adoption application, and things were looking great for Sundance!  She was going to be home by Christmas.

Unfortunately, a snowstorm picked that weekend to strike NC and the roads weren’t very good, so we bumped back the transport.  We finally made it happen — on New Year’s Day!  We met halfway between our respective homes, and I was surprised and impressed — Zoë and her husband had converted their SUV into a rolling bunny pen for introductions!  Their two bunnies, Hunter and Day-Z were in the back, grouchy, and along the trip back the spare person introduced the bunnies.  There was soon snuggling and commiserating about the craziness of humans.  As you can see from the pictures, introductions are going well and Sundance (now Sun-E) seems to have found her place.

Zoë and I both laughed at how we misjudged both her rabbits and my rabbit’s sizes!  I thought her buns were much smaller, and she thought Sun-E was much bigger!  So far, though, everyone seems to be getting along, and Sun-E is showing the two boys that little bunnies are not to be pushed around!  Thank you again to Zoë and her husband Gary for offering their home to this wonderful bunny.  We’re excited to consistently have such amazing homes for our rabbits!rabbithat


Sponsor a Guinea Pig – January

Posted in Medical, Sanctuary Spotlight at 2:01 pm by Jenn

Our very own Pinball is the pig of the month for Sponsor a Guinea Pig in January!  We are pleased and honored that we were choPinballsen to be January’s rescue.

Pinball was in again today for dental surgery (his incisors had overgrown horrendously since his first tooth trim on December 10th), and we got some extremely bad news for him.  His molars had also overgrown — and not only overgrew, but overgrew enough to trap his tongue!  Because of the speed with which they overgrew since his intial trim, his prognosis is not looking very good.  We have elected to go ahead and trim him back down to “zero”, to attempt massaging and possibly purchase a chin sling for him, and to give this guinea pig the chance that he didn’t get the first go-round.

We ask that you keep Pinball in your thoughts.  There has been an outpouring of love and support from all across the country, and we are touched and amazed that one little pig has meant so much to so many people.   As always, at ACR&S, we try to make the best choices for all of our animals, and sadly acknowledge that sometimes the best choice is a gentle end.  Be assured as we struggle to make the best choice for Pinball, our hearts are always looking to what is best for him in the long run.  Thank you again, everyone, for all the kindness that you’ve shown to a spunky little pig that got a second chance.


A calvalcade of new arrivals!

Posted in intakes at 9:44 am by Jenn

As the holidays approached, the local animal shelters swelled with homeless guinea pigs trying to find their forever homes.

Billie Jean

Billie Jean was left at the local animal shelter two short weeks before Christmas.  Her surrender card listed her name as “Billy” and her sex was marked as male.  A short sexing later, and it was clear that she was not male, and she became “Billie Jean”.  So far, she has shown herself to be a friendly young sow (estimated age right under one year) and finds particular delight in wallowing through massive piles of hay.


Amelia showed up at the same animal shelter less than a week later.  A note was left with her that she was 5 years of age, and that her family could no longer provide for her, and to please find her a good home.  Amelia has quickly become a favorite in the rescue — she is an absolute snuggler, loves sitting against your chest, and the first night she was at home with us went to sleep in my arms.  She would be a fabulous addition to an established herd, or as a matron to a younger piggie!


A scant few days after we picked up Ms. Amelia, Frazier also showed up!  He is a  handsome young man, his age given at right under a year, and he is quite a character.  He is a consummate beggar, and has perfected the art of dumping all his hay onto the ground so that you can see how truly starving he is and give him some more pellets.

GloriaivykrisNoelleFinally, two days before Christmas, these darlings showed up at Andrea’s local shelter.  Abandoned, they had to spend Christmas at the animal shelter, waiting for their stray hold to expire.  From top to bottom, they are Gloria, Ivy, Kris, and Noelle.  Little Kris has a forever home to go to already, but the young ladies will be available once we can confirm that they are not pregnant (as they arrived in a box with Kris).

Happy New Year to all of our kind friends and supporters!



Posted in intakes, Medical at 7:50 am by Jenn

Often, at ACR&S, we walk a very fine line between educating our potential adopters and the public in general, and in coming across as unreasonable and unnecessarily “paranoid” about our requirements.  One of the big things that we push to our adopters is that small animals require vet care, and generally when they need it, they need it fast.  Because they are prey animals, they hide the true extent of their problems right up until they are sometimes literally on death’s door.

So, when I saw an ad for a guinea pig on Craigslist, I was so concerned that I immediately contacted the owner.  Her guinea pig, she explained, had a malocclusion problem, but they just didn’t have the money to get him treated.  I emailed her and gave her information on handfeeding, as well as contact information for our vet, whom I hoped would be more affordable.  She emailed me back the next day that she had taken him to see a vet in Durham, who had confirmed that he had tooth problems, and that she had also contacted our vet, but that she couldn’t afford the treatment, and could she sign him over to us?

I agreed, because while tooth problems can initially be costly to treat, usually they can be controlled once they get back to “zero” (so to speak).  When I met her to pick up her guinea pig, I was really taken aback.  While this little animal clearly did have tooth problems (he was drooling uncontrollably and had thick wads of spit caked against his left cheek) he was clearly in bad shape, and probably not far from death.  His left eye was cloudy and caked with pus.  His head tilted sharply to the right, and he tracked back and forth incessantly with his head.  His ears were filthy and he cried when they were touched.

The woman explained to me that when they adopted him a year ago, his eye had started watering.  They had treated it at home, and it had gotten better, and then would come back, and they would treat it again, and so on and so on.  Over a year, the eye got progressively worse, becoming more and more infected.  The infectipinballon from the eye spread back into the ear canals.  The ear infection caused his head to tilt sharply to the side.  The pain from infection caused him to stop eating — his molars and incisors overgrew, and then he couldn’t.  The eye continued to worsen.  The infection robbed him of most of his vision, and of his hearing.

In short, Pinball (as he is now known) is blind, deaf, has bad teeth, a head tilt, and can’t walk straight because of a simple eye infection that was likely started by an innocuous hay poke.

Pinball visited Dr. Munn on 12/10/2009 to begin his long treatment.  His radiographs showed extensive bone-loss, indicative that he’d been having problems eating for a long time and probably had not had a good quality pellet before that.  He was anesthetized and the points on his molars were trimmed down (Dr. Munn reported that some were bigger than a pencil lead!).  Once the teeth were in better shape, he turned to the eye.  The eye seemed to have suffered some sort of minor trauma initially (as mentioned, hay pokes are not unheard of), but untreated it became infected.  The top layer of cornea could not get hold of the eye and it wrinkled and continuously ulcerated.  So he cleaned out all the dead issue on the eye (you can see it originally here – though be warned, it is pretty gross looking), and then gently used a q-tip to slightly abraid the underlayer to give the top something to grow onto.  We added a strong antibiotic regiment, pain medication, and an eye ointment, and waited.  Days later, the eye looked better and had improved, but stalled there.

Pinball is back at the vet again today for a re-evaluation of his eye, and a new plan.  He may eventually lose the affected eye, but we at ACR&S are committed to giving him a high quality of life as long as it is possible.  Blind and deaf guinea pigs can and do adapt remarkably well (like our own Andrea’s Maddie) but to get him there, we need to get him healthy.  If this is possible, he will be able to live out the rest of his life as a sanctuary animal with ACR&S to ensure that his likely ongoing treatments and tooth trims will be accomplished.

It is because of situations like this that we so strongly push preventative and timely vet care.  Had the initial problem been addressed when it occurred, Pinball likely would have had to endure 2-3 weeks of eyedrops and a recheck and would be perfectly healthy right now.  Instead, over a year, he developed an infection that literally has made him special needs for the rest of his life.

But, he has found things to enjoy.  He loves Critical Care, and begs for it endlessly.  He also really loves parsley and has become something of a diva (if you’ll notice in his picture above, a wilty piece of ignored lettuce is on the ground while he dives into a pile of parsley).  Adding to his diva status is his love of cuddle cups.  If they’re out to be washed, he whines, and when they come back he dives in and does his little circle dance in them.  And his will to fight has not waned.  Every night when I pick him up to put in his eye ointment, he rumblestruts at me, and headbutts me when I try to pet him on his forehead.  He took such joy in his last batch of parsley that I had to get a video:

It is because of animals like Pinball that we are so adamant about educating to care standards and making sure that our animals go to homes where their needs will be met.  Because Pinball is not an isolated incident.  With small animals like guinea pigs, the most serious cases that we see are often due to owner ignorance.  Animals starving to death with overgrown teeth, seizing to death with parasites, slowly dying from untreated, yet operable tumors.  And most of it happening in a living room while a loving owner pets their head.  The blog is full of animals who often could have been spared a tremendous amount of pain and suffering with vet care at the beginning of their illness, instead of reaching a point where something so simple and stupid as a piece of hay poking you in the eye literally made you blind, deaf, and physically challenged.


Ho, ho, ho! A Christmas Ending for Buddy Holly

Posted in Adoptions at 7:28 am by Jenn

On December 23rd, 2009, Buddy Holly found his forever home.  We first talked about Buddy in a blog post here.  He was abandoned at the local animal shelter, starving to death as his teeth overgrew and trapped his tongue.

Well, a wonderful adopter stepped up for Buddy.  She emailed us, and told us about her two older boars, and their delicious daily salads, and how they got manicures at the vet regularly, so Buddy’s teeth could have an eye kept on them.  We were so excited!  It seemed like a perfect situation, and we held our breaths to see how the boys all got along.  Andrea, our Charlotte coordinator, reported that the boys fell in like they’d lived together forever and barely seemed to notice that their duo had become a trio.

Buddy is now living as Huckleberry in his forever home:

A huge thanks to his new mama and his new brothers.  She says they sleep together every night, and each one of the bigger, older boars seems to take turns nannying him and making sure he has a friend to sleep next to.


Another small animal mill busted.

Posted in Why We Recommend at 8:26 am by Jenn

In the news recently, the big story in exotics was the raid on US Global Exotics — one of the biggest exotic animal suppliers in the United States.  Over 20,000 animals were seized from rancid conditions.  Many were dead or dying, and there were many reports of starving animals cannibalizing each other.  Since the initial bust, health specialists have recommend razing the building to the ground.

Clifford Warwick, a reptile and human health expert flown in to assist with the massive case said the following:

“It’s my firm view as a health specialist these animals could not be returned to that facility,” Warwick said. “It is a rampant reservoir of potential infection.

Warwick said he found no evidence of disease control at the business, which he said reeked “of death and decay on a mammoth and overwhelming scale” the day of the raid.

Despite this, the owners of the firm have released statements through their lawyers that clearly this is just a PETA agenda to get people to stop owning pets.  This stands sharply in contrast with an SPCA spokeswoman’s statement:

“One of the most heartbreaking things I saw was hundreds of deceased iguanas. I stopped counting at 200,” said Maura Davies, spokeswoman for the SPCA. “There were dozens more.”

Often, people think of these cases as “one off” situations, where bad people take advantage of lax laws, but it is unfortunately a pattern with pet store suppliers (this mirrors undercover footage and pictures found at Rainbow Exotics — Petsmart’s biggest supplier).  You cannot produce 200 guinea pigs a week, or 400 rabbits, or 1,000 hamsters in sterling conditions.   You cannot make money off of breeding an animal with care, respect, and adequate medical supplies.  At our rescue, we average $250 per intake!  And often that’s simply to deal with minor health problems or to insure that the animals are, in fact, healthy.  That’s not even counting the cost of pre-natal care for these animals, some of which have notoriously high complication rates.  The sad reality is that these rodents mills are even more poorly policed than puppy mills, and (as attested to by this recent bust) are rampant with infectious disease and poor husbandry.  In fact, recent studies done from large hamster mills have shown that all of the hamsters studied were carrying some type of pathogen, even if they weren’t actively infected with it!

We urge everyone looking to acquire a new pet to think carefully about where that animal comes from and what it is exposed to before it arrives at your house.   These well meaning purchases often end in heartbreak (we get a couple of emails per week from folks who have purchased from local big box pet stores with recently dead animals who now want to adopt), and serve to fuel a never-ending cycle of supply and demand.


Sponsor a Guinea Pig for December!

Posted in Sponsor A Guinea Pig at 12:31 pm by ACR&S

With everything going on this fall we’ve missed out on SAGP for a while but now we’re back on track! The December piggies, Big Boy and Rosie, need your help to reach their goal!


Big Boy was rescued in March of 2009 by the Cavy House rescue. He had lymphoma, which has amazingly been successfully responding to chemotherapy! They are seeking to raise enough money for four months of chemo.

Please visit Sponsor a Guinea Pig or Cavy House to support these piggies, and please give generously!!

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