July 23, 2009, VANCOUVER – The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is asking families not to buy a guinea pig on impulse after watching Disney’s latest movie G-Force. The comedy, being released nationwide tomorrow has several computer-generated talking Guinea Pigs who set out to save the world.
Earlier Disney movies like 101 Dalmatians and Snow Dogs created a fad where people went out and bought Dalmatians and Siberian Huskies which were later turned over to shelters and rescue groups when people found out how much care they needed. Another movie, Finding Nemo, caused families to rush out and buy pet clown fish, a saltwater species that requires special care.
HSC Executive Director Michael O’Sullivan points out that while Disney’s movies are intended to be fun for a family audience, he wishes the company would include stronger messages as a part of their marketing strategy that encourage people not rush out and buy animals they see on the silver screen: “These movies encourage ‘impulse buying,’” says O’Sullivan, who has two children of his own. “As a result many families buy animals only to realize afterwards how much time, energy, patience, love and money it costs to care for them. We don’t want the same thing to happen with guinea pigs.”
Although Disney has listed a message on their website urging people to plan ahead before they adopt an animal, regrettably, our experience has been that families’ fascination with Hollywood will cause them to buy pets they see in the movies.
O’Sullivan finds the situation tragic and preventable. The Humane Society of Canada is educating the public about guinea pigs and the problems created when people buy on impulse live animals which require care, often at the request of their children. “In my opinion, large companies like Disney have a tremendous amount of public influence and need to be more proactive with their responsibilities,” he says. “If they are going to use particular types of animals in their movies then they should help out by preventing potential problems or at least help to deal with the problems when they arise by providing funding to animal shelters and rescue groups who end up dealing with these unwanted animals. Educational messages before and after the movie warning viewers about impulse buying and purchasing pets from pet stores and puppy mills would be a good start.”
To educate people interested in acquiring a guinea pig, The Humane Society of Canada has put together a brief description of the care needed to keep a guinea pig. This information is general in nature as each animal is unique and may possess other traits and characteristics. “For those who have done their homework and are sure that they can properly care for a guinea pig, we recommend that they start their search for a ‘pig’ or ‘cavy’ at their local animal shelter, pound or with a breed rescue group which can be found at this link. The Humane Society of Canada provides support for animal shelters and rescue groups who care for guinea pigs and other small pets. We do not recommend that they buy a guinea pig from a pet shop.”
People interested in adopting a guinea pig in need or who would like more information about this breed can contact the Humane Society of Canada at (toll free) 1-800-641-KIND (5463) or online at www.humanesociety.com. Unfortunately, guinea pigs needing good homes are not hard to find and The Humane Society of Canada is concerned that G-Force may only serve to compound this tragic situation.
Guinea Pigs or Cavies
- Can live for a long time, at least 5 to 7 years, and in some cases, guinea pigs have lived up to 10 years – long enough time for a child’s interest to wane
- Require Vitamin C daily as part of their diet. (They are the only other species other than humans to have this dietary requirement)
- They can grow up to 12 inches in length and weigh up to two pounds
- They require a very large cage to live in, most cages sold for them are not adequate in size – generally a cage 7.5 square feet wide will suit the needs of a solitary guinea pig, for two, the cage should be at least 10.5 square feet wide.
- Cages with wire bottoms or wire ladders should be avoided as they can cause injury to the guinea pig’s feet
- Cedar bedding, and to a lesser degree pine bedding, should not be used in the guinea pigs cage as the aromatic compounds in them can cause respiratory problems
- In addition to their cage, an exercise pen will help give the guinea pig a change of scenery, and more space to run
- Wheels and exercise balls are not recommended for them, and can cause back injuries
- Guinea pigs are social, and may do better in a paired situation, two females or two males (however, it is essential that they have lived together for their entire lives, or they might fight)
- Keeping males and females together will only result in more guinea pigs, and should be avoided at all times
- Their pens should be cleaned at least once a week, and more frequently if necessary
- They should receive fresh water and food, including fresh vegetables and fruit every day
- Some breeds of guinea pigs are long haired and may require grooming and washing if their fur becomes soiled
CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by calling toll free 1-800-641-KIND or his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com
[A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 100 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]
The Humane Society of Canada works to protect dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and small animals, horses, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. They carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, funds non-invasive scientific research, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.
A registered charity, The Humane Society of Canada depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. The Humane Society of Canada provides support for animal shelters and rescue groups who care for guinea pigs and other small pets. If you would like to support our campaign to protect animals and the earth, please make a donation here. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty, we don’t give up. Ever.