By Mimi Teller
Chief among the mission of the American Red Cross and our team of volunteers is to alleviate human suffering — a goal that includes aiding people and their pets with preparedness information and safe disaster evacuations. While cats and dogs make up the largest population of the fur babies supported, every now and then guinea pigs need assistance too.
During the recent Route Fire near Santa Clarita, CA, two shelters were opened to provide safety for the communities forced to evacuate their homes. Both shelters were able to accept family pets, but in the haste to flee their homes not everyone was able to bring their pet’s travel carrier or crate, a requirement for allowing pets in shelters when pets are permitted inside. Such was the case for one teenager who arrived at one of the shelters with two guinea pigs in her arms.
“A young girl came up to me and asked me to come outside, she said her friend had two guinea pigs’” shared Joe Perez, manager for the shelter located at West Ranch High School.
“Regardless of the emotional state of the animal, we needed a safe way to house the pair. Timing was perfect as at that moment our partners from L.A. County Animal Care and Control showed up with a few small animal crates; we added some newspaper to one, a bit of lettuce and both guinea pigs were safe and able to enter the shelter.”
Red Cross volunteers are trained and prepared for a wide range of challenges, not all as unique as taking care of guinea pigs. To prepare new volunteers for their roles, everyone is required to take a handful of online training courses and train under experienced volunteers before being placed in the field.