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G-Force Meets the 101 Dalmations Effect

Posted on 2009.08.03 at 13:19
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I've been meaning to write this since I first saw the previews for G-Force, and was inspired to finally do so when I read this article from Slate this morning.

Remember when 101 Dalmations came out and was super popular?  Suddenly boys and girls everywhere were begging their parents for a dalmation puppy.  What's cuter than a puppy?  Yay!  (I'm willing to bet that this lead to a hike in puppymill breeding of this particular type of dog.)

Well, not long after, hundreds and hundreds of families discovered that dalmations are not always superhappyfriendly dogs, and due to their temperment as a breed don't always fit in well with families with small children.  Also they're big dogs who take time, money and training, and oh right, ARE NOT TOYS.  Hundreds and hundreds of dogs were abandoned and turned into shelters.  This happens every time someone makes a movie about a particular breed of dog, and the results are never pretty.  There were concerns that there would be an immediate demand for whatever dog the Obamas adopted.

So, now they've made a movie about guinea pigs.  Its opening sales were higher than those of the new Harry Potter.  (Why?  HP was bound to be awesome, and G-Force looks TERRIBLE.)  And now, people are buying guinea pigs from pet stores by the boatload.  The 101 Dalmations Effect has crossed the species line.

Say it with me, people:  GUINEA PIGS ARE NOT TOYS.

-They require a lot of attention and careful watching after.
-The have FRAGILE HEALTH.  Finding a proper exotics vet is not always easy, and is EXPENSIVE.  If you fail to treat an ill guinea pig IMMEDIATELY, s/he will likely die.  Failing to treat ill animals is ANIMAL ABUSE.
-Your young child cannot care for a guinea pig without ACTIVE adult supervision.
-They need a LOT MORE SPACE than the cages petstores will sell you.
-They do not do well alone and do best with cagemates.  This means MORE SPACE AND FOOD.
-Their diets are demanding, and to keep them in proper health one must do a good deal of research.
-They live upwards of SEVEN YEARS.  This is not a small, disposable "first pet" that will die as soon as your child becomes bored.  Where will you be in seven years?

AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS FURRY, PEOPLE, NEVER, EVER, EVER BUY A LIVING ANIMAL FROM A PET STORE.  There are thousands upon thousands of animals in shelters and rescues the world over who need homes.  When you buy an animal from a petstore, you sign the death warrant of an animal in an overcrowded shelter.  You know those puppy mills I mentioned?  Yeah, there are guinea pig mills, too.

And you know those shelters I mentioned?  They put down countless perfectly rehomable dogs and cats when they cannot find homes for them or run out of room to keep them.  THE SAME THING HAPPENS TO SMALL ANIMALS.

If you're considering getting a guinea pig as a pet or know someone who is, there are some important things that must be considered BEFORE bringing an innocent, living, breathing animal home.

1.) Cage Space.  (see guineapigcages.com) As I mentioned before, guinea pigs are social, herd animals and do best in well-matched pairs and groups that CANNOT BREED.  Are you prepared to build a cage that will take up a minimum of 7.5 square feet in a prominant place in your home?  Do you know how to determine a guinea pig's sex so that you do not accidentally house a male with a female and end up with many, many guinea pigs?

2.) Vet Care. (see guinealynx.info)  There are a multitude of health ailments that can affect your pet.  Do you know what symptoms to look for?  Guinea pigs are prey animals and are experts at hiding symptoms of illness until it is too late.  Do you have access to an exotics vet who has experience with cavies and knows which antibiotics are safe for your pet?  Can you afford emergency vet care for all of your animals should they all suddenly come down with mites of respiratory infections?  Will you have the time and patience to treat your animals with life saving medications multiple times a day?  If your animal is unable to eat, are you willing to handfeed him?  Find a good vet before you need one.

3.) Diet. (see guinealynx.com) Guinea pigs have special health requirements.  They need access to food and water constantly, or their digestive tracks will stop working.  They need proper amounts of clean, fresh vegetables, and it takes time to learn which carry inmortant nutrients and which have too much sugar and should be fed sparingly as treats.  Quality pellets must lack harmful, cancer causing chemicals, baked bits and seeds.  They need some form of grass hay, such as Timothy hay, for fiber content and to keep their ever-growing teeth down.  If your local petstore does not carry quality foods, are you prepared to order from a catalog or website and pay shipping for better, more expensive foods?  Not to do so would be the equivalent of feeding your child lunchables and fast food daily because you can't be bothered to cook a proper meal.

And finally,
ADOPTION AND RESCUE. (see cavyspirit.com)  Pet stores sell sick and missexed, mill-bred animals and dole out oodles of bad information.  Backyard breeding (which yes, includes "just one litter for the kids") comes with high health risks for the mother pig and babies.  And again, there are so many animals in shelters.

If there is a pet store in your area selling guinea pigs, I PROMISE there are guinea pigs in need of rehoming.  Search the following places for an animal who needs a forever home:
-your local shelter or animal rescue
-local bulletin boards, such as those at super markets
-friends and family

See?  This is not as simple as going to the store, buying a $20 animal and a $45 dollar cage and calling it a day.  That's what I'm saying.

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