Protect Yourself Against Guinea Pig Rescue Scams

Free to a Good Home

It's not always easy to identify a rescue scam. Knowledge is the best defense.

It’s a good time to be a guinea pig. Household pets are widely considered members of the family. American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc. (APPMA) estimate that there are 3.3 million guinea pigs in American homes and The Pet Food Manufacturers Association estimated there to be about 1 million guinea pigs kept as pets in the UK.

With better pet parenting comes more avenues for adoption awareness. The Humane Society of the United States tells us over 3,500 animal shelters are operational in the US today and while guinea pigs are not found as common as dogs and cats, 70% of pet households agree that it is socially acceptable to adopt a pet over purchasing one.

Alongside shelters, there are many organizations and volunteer networks that work hard to rescue guinea pigs that might otherwise be euthanized or not get the specialized care they need at a larger facility.

These smaller organizations operate independently and the rescue volunteers often pay the costs associated with the care and maintenance of the guinea pigs while they are waiting to be adopted. The sad truth is that not all “rescues” are legitimate. It’s even more difficult to define exactly when these organizations cross the line since so many of them operate differently from one another. Potential adopters can find themselves with a sick or misrepresented pet, stolen money, and probably worst of all, lack of trust for future legitimate rescue organizations. In short, these bad rescues make it harder to the animal welfare movement in general.

What are the qualities of a good guinea pig rescue? The priority of any good cavy rescue organization should be the health and welfare of the guinea pigs. Their cages should be clean and they should be given food, water, and proper veterinary care. The volunteers will be able to explain any known health or behavior issues and will try to make sure that owners and pets are a good match. A good rescue will also request you surrender the guinea pig to their organization if you can no longer care for your pet. In general, you can expect a good guinea pig rescue to been looking out for the health, safety, and well being of a pet which has passed through their organization.

In contrast, a guinea pig rescue scam will be focused on money or some other type of personal gain. This usually happens by sacrificing the individual cavies’ happiness and ultimately your happiness.

Online resources assist rescues in many ways. Newspaper ads and flyers have been replaced with Facebook pages and Twitter profiles. Sites like PetFinder can make it easy to locate a rescue and view pets available for adoption. Unfortunately, the internet is a good front for making a scam seem legitimate. It’s not always easy to identify a fraud and even harder to identify a shady but not illegal organization.

A legitimate guinea pig rescue will ask for references like your exotic veterinarian’s name and details about your living situation. If you rent your home, they might require a renter’s contract to confirm your guinea pig is allowed in your building. Don’t be surprised if the rescue requests a home visit, as this is common practice, but never agree to meet alone. Expect to pay an adoption fee and sign a contract. Never agree to an adoption before seeing your guinea pig. A good rescue group will sometimes reserve the right to take the pet back if you can no longer care for him or her.

Knowledge is the best defense against guinea pig rescue scams. If you come across a scam, don’t give up. Giving a pet a second chance at a loving home is certainly worth the extra effort and real rescues need your support. Once you’ve learned to navigate the process you’ll be better prepared for the next time.

If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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2 Responses to “Protect Yourself Against Guinea Pig Rescue Scams”
  1. Bob says:

    How do you find rescues if you want to make a donation? There are so many, it’s hard to know which ones are real or would make the best use of a donation. And they all have the sob stories on them, which makes it harder of course. And I do *not* want to read any more of them. I don’t have enough money. Just because they are the top of a google search doesn’t mean they are the best place to donate.

    • Bob, if you want to make a donation in the US, choose a rescue that is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3). There are strict requirement for a rescue to apply and be accepted into this IRS category and it also means that your donation will be tax deductible. Most, but not all rescues that are 501(c)(3) will list it somewhere on their website as this is a huge benefit for them.

      This is a link to the search on the IRS site for all organizations with “guinea pig” in their name. (…&country=US&deductibility=all&dispatchMethod=searchCharities&submitName=Search) This doesn’t include all rescues. If you wish to search on a specific rescue name, go back to the main search screen and enter all information you know about the rescue in question.

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