A guinea pig sanctuary in New Brunswick
With a lot of love and even more time and hard work, Jennifer Maybee has opened her home to hundreds of guinea pigs looking for a safe place to land.
“In the four-and-a-half years I’ve been doing this, we’ve had over 500 guinea pigs through the door, with our highest numbers at one time at 103,” says Maybee, who runs For the Love of Guinea Pigs. Rescue and Sanctuary in Albert County, NB
Her love for the piggies began in 2012 when her daughter decided to adopt a few from the SPCA. The idea of a rescue followed a little later, after she took in a few she found on Kijiji.
“[A] Grandma got it for her granddaughter for Easter, [the] granddaughter was never interested in them and she was afraid of them so she didn’t want to do anything,” said Maybee. “So every few months when her daughter would come up, she would be the one to change the cage and clean them. So by the time they got here, they were about four months old, five months old, and that was the saddest thing.”
For the Love of Guinea Pigs Rescue and Sanctuary is a safe place to land while they wait for rehabilitation, a forever home, or just some long overdue attention.
A little pig looking and begging for an extra snack on Monday. (Alana Pickrell/CTV Atlantic)
“When you take them in and they’re scared, or they’ve been neglected or they don’t know human contact … to see the change in them by the time they get a home is what makes it worth it, ” she said. “It’s not for me, it’s not for anybody else, it’s just to see how happy these guys can be when they get the right care.”
It started with six of her own guinea pigs, which grew to eight, then 18 — and within the first six months, the number of pigs in her care was at 34.
“There is always a need for rescues of any animal,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was such a big need for them until the numbers just started going and going, and it’s a daily basis that I get messages on Facebook or emails asking if I can be their guinea pigs. take.”
At the moment the rescue is at maximum capacity and there are already several pigs on the waiting list.
“It kind of becomes a habit that once they hit about three years old, people give up on them,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s just timing or if they just see that they’re getting older and they don’t want to have to go through that, but unfortunately they beat those three, four-year-old people. don’t want to adopt older guinea pigs because their life expectancy is five to seven years.”
Maybee says most of the guinea pigs in her care are adoptable, with the exception of a few lifelong ones who have claimed a permanent home with her. Each pig is $30 with the exception of neutered males, which can be adopted for $60.
However, she cautions that they are not a pet for beginners. Although a small animal, they have big requirements. A hamster cage, for example, is not enough space. Each pig needs a minimum of eight square feet to live in, plus a cup for fruit and vegetables each day.
A snapshot of some of the girl guinea pigs currently in Maybee’s care chowing down on some fresh lettuce. (Alana Pickrell/CTV Atlantic)
“People don’t do research,” she said. “People get dogs and cats. If they find a dog, they research that breed. They know if it is a high energy dog or if it is a low energy dog. People know if they are allergic to dogs or cats. People go into pet stores and see these cute little guinea pigs … but they don’t have the information before they buy.”
In addition to providing a safe place for the small pets, she says it is also about awareness and showing people they are not a disposable animal just because they are a rodent.
“I have to be the voice for them where they can’t say what they have to say,” she said.
For those who own guinea pigs, they know firsthand how important they can be.
“These guys, they melt my heart,” said Sonia Wentworth, who owns two guinea pigs. “When I’m having a bad day, I come in here and they just recognize you. When they see you, they make this cute squeak, and when I clean their cage, they get so excited.”
Ultimately, Wentworth says, “they want to be loved.”
“They love to cuddle with you and sit with you,” she said. “They are more than just a rodent to me, and I can’t imagine my life without these guys.”
Since its inception four years ago, the rescue has grown steadily and Maybee says there are no plans to slow down as long as she can and there are pigs that need help. In fact, she has plans to expand.
“We want a building. We are trying to move everyone out of the house and into their own space,” she said, adding that a building was actually bought last year, but ultimately could not be saved.
Throughout the year, the guinea pig rescue does have a few fundraising efforts, such as two yard sales in the summer, occasional 50/50 raffles and even a sponsor-a-guinea pig program.
“I try not to do too much because I don’t want people to think it’s all about money,” Maybee said. “I’m the one who wanted to do it, so it’s my responsibility. So I do what I have to, but we try to get some key points fundraisers every year.”
With the pigs now taking over two rooms in her house, her actions do not go unnoticed.
“Jen has a heart of gold,” Wentworth said. “With all the guinea pigs, the care she gives the guinea pigs, and they just really need it.”