Small pets: squeaks with a past


Photo by Reagan Freeman

Reagan Freeman, Submissions Editor

While it’s clear that dogs are great companions, small pets, like guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits can also be a perfect pet! If you need a cuddle buddy, small pets are more than content to sit on your lap and chew on a tuft of hay. They also make the best of friends, but sometimes don’t come from good situations. It’s common for your adorable pet to have been bred mainly for sale in inhumane environments.

When you are ready to adopt a pet, be sure to research the place you adopt your pet from. Stores like Pet Supermarket, PetSmart, and Petco typically get their animals from puppy mill-like homes. Puppy mills are cruel, breeding farms that produce puppies in mass amounts for sale in pet stores. Put in the effort to make sure your pet does not come from these breeding farms.

Don’t be shocked if a pet store denies purchasing their animals from mills. Pet stores routinely report that they purchase from “reputable breeders.” As long as pet stores continue to buy from mills, the mills will still continue to have a demand in their market to produce animals. Be sure to do your own research on where you get your small companion.

On Friday (May 5), I visited the PetSmart in Buckhead to pick up hay for my guinea pigs. I had the chance to ask a worker there where they got their guinea pigs, and they said they got from a “humane breeder in Pennsylvania.” At that time, PetSmart had three other guinea pigs for sale. They looked to be healthy, but the cage they were being kept in was incredibly small for three piggies.

Photo taken by Reagan Freeman

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, investigated the most common supplier for pet store animals, Holmes Farm, and found that the animals were being kept in terrible conditions. The animals were living in filthy units and plastic containers that were stacked on one another. Many times the animals bought from pet stores come to the store sick because of these horrible conditions and are sold to customers in this unhealthy state. It’s always good to check how long the pet store has owned the animals when you adopt your pet. According to PETA, many of the animals had no access to food and they could only drink filthy water. When the investigators were able to provide mice some water, they “drank in a frenzy.” The animal rescue group was able to rescue some pets.

If you’re looking to adopt a guinea pig, you can rescue one from the Oakhurst Guinea Pig Rescue in Decatur, Georgia where they are “dedicated to finding forever homes for unwanted, abused and neglected guinea pigs”. A great place to adopt a rabbit is Georgia House Rabbit Society. Located in Marietta, Georgia, they rescue, rehabilitate and adopt out bunnies.