Pet trade must refocus on small animals, says retailer

A retailer that specialises in guinea pigs has called on the industry to change its “archaic” approach to small animals. 

HayPigs has warned that the industry must take more “responsibility” in educating owners about caring for small animals at the point of purchase, after warning that  “hundreds” of guinea pigs in the UK end up in rescues every week. 

The retailer, that specialises in guinea pigs, said this was due to a multitude of reasons, including unwanted Christmas gifts, owners who cannot pay for vet bills, as well as cases where owners have lost control of breeding. 

HayPigs warned that guinea pigs can also be treated as a commodity, “bought and sold online like second-hand goods and without any form of vetting or licensing”. 

To mark Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, the retailer is now calling on the pet trade industry to assume responsibility and “do something about it”.

Co-founder, Rik Cridland, said: “We’re obviously delighted to have a day in which we can wax lyrical about these adorable little creatures but we built our brand to give guinea pigs a voice and it’s time to talk a bit more seriously about what we’ve discovered over the last 6 years of working with, and caring for, guinea pigs.

“I’m going to make a strong statement here, but we feel it needs to be said. In the UK pet trade (and indeed elsewhere), our approach to small animal welfare and enrichment is at times, archaic.” 

He added: “We need to wake up and start taking our responsibility as educators seriously. It is at the point of purchase that we have the biggest opportunity to educate new pet owners on better understanding what is required to give these animals a fulfilling life.

“We hope that by making a statement like this, we can start a debate and see some real change.”

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