Rent-A-Cavy Wins in Switzerland
Küng specializes in finding partners for grieving and lonely senior age cavies. She has owned the fuzzy companions since she was just two and has been breeding guinea pigs since she was 12. She adores her short haired and Abyssinian cavies and now lives with 80 in addition to her six cats, a number of rabbits, hamsters and mice. She is now the president of IG Meerschweinchen, an organization that oversees three major Swiss guinea pig breeding associations. Küng is a teacher by day and admits her guinea pig hobby often costs more than she earns from it.
For owners with a pair of pigs who face the sudden death of one, Küng’s service helps them stay inside the law. She has found herself in high demand ever since the laws were changed. “Because they hardly ever die at the same time, even if they are exactly the same age, people who don’t want a new guinea pig and lose one of their two animals need an interim solution,” Küng says. She rents both young and old cavies and gets two or three requests each week. She allows the guinea pigs to choose their new friend. Sometimes older ones choose companions their own age while others feel refreshed to have a younger friend around. To deal with the demand, she launched a website for her service.
Before her service was in place, guinea pig owners were locked in a never-ending cycle of guinea pig care. The owner would have to purchase another guinea pig as a companion to the lone pig whose eventual death would force the owner to get yet another and so forth. What’s a guinea pig owner to do?
It would seem owners are locked into paying whatever it takes to get out of jail. So how much does Küng charge for her service? 50 Swiss francs ($57) for a castrated male and 60 francs ($68) for a female. She calls it a deposit. Basically, she sells the guinea pigs but returns half the money when they are brought back. These working rodents keep the resident senior guinea pig company. How long they’re ‘working’ is up to the owner. Weeks, months, some stay for years. “Sometimes people realize that they still get so much enjoyment from the guinea pigs that they want to go on keeping them and come back for another one once their supposed last pet has died,” says Küng.
If you’re concerned about the emotional bond of the working pigs, Küng tells us that aspect is well taken care of. “It’s important that none of the rental guinea pigs just keep getting passed on,” says Küng. She keeps a close eye on the animals and ensures none are sent out more than once. When the working pigs come home, they’re there to stay for the rest of their life.
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