Alex Winterford, shelter manager at Gold Coast Guinea Pig Rescue, grooms her pet to prepare for the Pig Day Out.
Alex Winterford, shelter manager at Gold Coast Guinea Pig Rescue, grooms her pet to prepare for the Pig Day Out. Yvonne Gardiner

Shelter offers fun at Pig Day Out

GOLD Coast Guinea Pig Rescue, a not-for-profit organisation, is striving to elevate the status of guinea pigs from "disposable pets" to valued and appreciated companions.

The shelter was started by manager Alex Winterford 12 years ago in response to the large number of guinea pigs being surrendered to the Animal Welfare League.

"I was a volunteer at AWL at the time, helping with the cats and, when I realised the enormity of the problem in regard to guinea pigs, I felt I had to do something about it," she said.

"I'd never had guinea pigs as pets but, as an all-round animal lover, I couldn't bear to see these little creatures just abandoned.

"The shelter is expanding as rapidly as the limited space and resources will allow.

"I just kept meeting people with guinea pigs that needed rescue and took them off their hands.

"I've taken in over 6000 and currently have 200.

"More come in than go out, and many are pregnant when they come in.

"You get people who accidentally breed them when pet shops sell them a male and a female.

"I just love all animals. When I saw there was nothing in place for guinea pigs - there was plenty for cats and dogs - I just felt sorry for them."

Owners may surrender guinea pigs, or dump them and also leave them behind at rental properties.

"I've got a few here that were abandoned," Alex said.

"I took in 10 the year before last that were left in a box at a bus stop in the hot sun."

People can help the shelter through a sponsor-a-piggy program or come to the monthly mini open days.

Supporters can also come out to the 2017 Pig Day Out on Sunday, April 30, from 8.30am to 3.30pm, at Paradise Country Parklands, 231 Beaudesert Nerang Rd, Gold Coast.

The Pig Day Out is an annual fun day for guinea pigs and their families.

Included in the day are raffles, activities for children, stands selling small animal products, and the main event - the guinea pig judging competition.

Entry is by gold coin.

For details, see the website or call Alex on 0408 263 455.

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