Nova Scotia

Determined rescue team captures guinea pigs ditched in downtown Dartmouth

A group of determined animal lovers coaxed two guinea pigs to safety over the weekend using a fishing net, handfuls of lettuce and a recording of the animal on a cellphone.

People used fishing net and handfuls of lettuce

Hunter Lively is a guinea pig owner who spent several days trying to rescue the two animals in Dartmouth. (Alex Mason/CBC)

A group of determined animal lovers coaxed two guinea pigs to safety over the weekend using a fishing net, handfuls of lettuce and a recording of the animal's noises.

They say the pets were left to fend for themselves in downtown Dartmouth, N.S., and discovered about a week ago by someone who was walking down the street. On Saturday, more than half a dozen people worked together to capture the duo near Ochterloney Street.

During the first day of the search effort, the guinea pigs were hiding in some brambles, and people couldn't get to them. 

"We weren't giving up, no matter how hard we got bitten by those thorns," Hunter Lively told CBC Radio's Mainstreet on Monday.

"We were able to catch the [first] piggie after probably 30 minutes or more of waiting, looking at the guinea pig in the bush, just waiting for it to move."

This guinea pig was rescued on Saturday in downtown Dartmouth. (Hunter Lively)

The rescue team had live traps on hand, stocked with fruits, veggies and hay to try and lure them out. Lively said the local fire department even got involved at one point.

"We couldn't have done it with just one or two people. It honestly took all of Dartmouth and beyond that," Lively said.

Not the first piggie found in Dartmouth

It isn't the first time guinea pigs have been ditched by their owners in Dartmouth, according to Hollie Davis.

Last year she rescued two other guinea pigs near the same location and adopted one of them and her baby. Their names are Moose and Bean. 

From rescuers such as Hunter Lively, who crawled on hands and knees into the brambles, to a former veterinarian who finds these animals new homes and promises you can bring them back any time for any reason... This is a story about guinea pigs that has more drama in it than you'd expect in a story about guinea pigs.

She thinks the pets are being left in that particular spot of Dartmouth because there's a veterinarian's office nearby.

"I think that possibly it's the same people who have done it before, and maybe they just don't know how to properly handle guinea pigs and they have a male and a female and keep having problems," Davis said. 

Hollie Davis took home a guinea pig who was abandoned in Dartmouth last year. (Hollie Davis)

With little food and lots of predators, the domesticated creatures won't survive long on their own outdoors, she said.

"There's just better ways of surrendering your animal without dumping them outdoors," Davis said. 

Guinea pig rescue in Bridgewater

Many rescued guinea pigs end up at The Higglety Pigglety House in Bridgewater.

Former veterinarian Hande Barutcuoglu started the rescue in 2017 after seeing ads for free guinea pigs on Kijiji. 

"I realized that a lot of these guinea pigs, they had no other options," she said.

"They went from one well-meaning but ignorant home to another well-meaning but ignorant home."

Barutcuoglu said many of the animals she's rescued over the years have overgrown nails and are underfed. In many cases she believes they're abandoned by their owners who don't realize the animals can live seven to eight years.

Barutcuoglu, who has now rescued more than 500 guinea pigs, said they make great pets if people know how to care for them.

"They're social ... they like people. They talk. They'll sit on your lap and watch TV with you," she said. 

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With files from CBC Radio's Mainstreet and Alex Mason

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