Heartbreak from the Rescue Front
Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue received a call from a vet in Virginia with a situation. An owner had two female pigs that were happy and healthy for two years. For reasons we won’t understand, they decided to purchase a young guinea pig from the pet store. The new cavy had been improperly sexed and was in fact a male, not a female as the owner had thought. In time, the young male had made both females pregnant.
Guinea pigs can become pregnant at about four weeks old and when left to their own devices in situations with mixed genders, they readily do. They can get pregnant again as quickly as six hours after giving birth. However, when female guinea pigs pass about six months of age, their pelvic bones fuse making it difficult and often impossible for them to give birth on their own if they have never been pregnant. This is only one obstacle. Allowing a guinea pig to get pregnant for the first time as an adult is too often a death sentence for a number of reasons.
In the situation at hand, one of the two pregnant females had already died attempting to give birth. The second female was bleeding and had been in labor too long without the babies appearing. Probably a sign they were already dead. The owners wanted the situation addressed but declined the opportunity to pay for it themselves for whatever reason. The pregnant female needed to be put under anesthesia and have the babies surgically removed if she were to have any chance to making it. The owners were willing to sign over their pets to the rescue if the rescue were to front the money for the procedure to save her life.
What would you do?
Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue decided to go ahead with the procedure and pay the expenses. It may have been too late to save the babies but perhaps the mother could be saved. A few hours later, they got the call. She had passed away.
The vet said she was under general anesthesia so she went to sleep and didn’t wake up. This was better than going home and dying in agony over hours due to a strained birth after already seeing her cage mate and companion die of the same fate. She had made it through the procedure and the babies, which were already dead, had been removed. They were stitching her up when she went into cardiac arrest and was gone.
Had MGPR had more time, they may have had the ability to setup a better situation in general but because this was an emergency they had to make do with what they had. They will pay the costs for the vet, probably in the neighborhood of $600, and hope for the best. Should they have waited? Should they have saved the money for a guinea pig that had better chances? The price of uncertainty is paid in regret.
We can’t dwell on 20/20 hindsight. We did what we could. We made the right decisions and we need to have faith in that. In a universe that could possibly have an infinite number of realities and an infinite number of outcomes, the pregnant guinea pig could have died a thousand different ways. However, she may have lived in just one – JUST ONE – and it would have made all of those decisions worthwhile.
It was a difficult choice, but it was the right one.
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