Rats aren’t the only controversial rodents in New York City right now. Guinea pigs have also stolen the spotlight.
As a progressive animal rights measure, the New York City Council just banned the sale of guinea pigs in New York City. The bill is now awaiting the mayor’s signature—he has 30 days to approve or veto the bill.
The ban was put in place after hundreds of families purchased guinea pigs as companion pets during the pandemic quarantine in 2020 and 2021. However, once the world started to open up, hundreds of these animals were then surrendered to nearby shelters. In fact, over 600 of these pandemic piggies were given to shelters in 2022. Already, over 200 guinea pigs have been surrendered in 2023. Guinea pig care is expensive for shelters to keep up with.
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With a lifespan of about a decade, a guinea pig is a longer-term commitment for pet parents, than, say, a goldfish. It’s also illegal for anyone in New York to abandon a pet (not that a guinea pig could tough it out in Central Park), so anyone with a pet they can no longer take care of must rehome it or go through a shelter or rescue system.
“Prohibiting the sale of guinea pigs in pet shops will bring relief to animal shelters. Other rescuers have experienced a surge in abandoned and surrendered guinea pigs in the past three years,” Adrienne Adams, the speaker of the New York City Council, told NY1.
With the ban, New Yorkers eager to parent a Guinea pig can still do so, the pets just have to be adopted rather than purchased from a pet store. Those who want to rescue a guinea pig can do so through Animal Care Centers of NYC, which has a filter on its app to swipe through guinea pigs and find your match.
Adoption may be the best method for aspiring pet parents of all species. In December, New York State banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits with Governor Kathy Hochul signing the bipartisan Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill. Come 2024, pet stores won’t be able to sell most mammals, with the goal of directing those in search of a furry friend to shelters and rescue organizations.