Disney’s G-Force, a new animated movie depicting a team of crime-fighting guinea pigs attempting to save the world, has left many wondering if guinea pigs will become the next fad pet. And after the film raked in more than $31 million in its opening weekend, animal shelters across the country are preparing for the worst.
They’ve seen this before. Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, released in 1996, had thousands of families rushing out to buy spotted puppies. Yellow Labradors were more popular than ever after the release of Marley and Me last year. The movies Legally Blond and Beverly Hills Chihuahua caused a spike in popularity for tiny pooches. And pet crazes aren’t just for cats and dogs—retailers saw a spike in clownfish sales after Finding Nemo was released in 2003.
But what happens when the novelty of these pets wears off? Many of the 101 Dalmatians and Marley and Me dogs ended up in shelters after new pet owners realized the responsibility involved in caring for them. Some groups are trying to prevent a similar occurrence with guinea pigs. Rescue groups like Texas Rustlers Guinea Pig Rescue and Orange County Cavy Haven have posted pleas for smart pet adopting on their Web sites. According to Orange County Cavy Haven director and CEO Susan Lee, many groups have beefed up public eduation efforts to prevent impulse buys.
Jan Davidson, founder of Deerbrook Guinea Pig and Rabbit Haven in Oakhurst, Calif., says parents could offer their kids guinea pigs of the stuffed or plastic variety. Or, if all else fails, they could fib a little. “We hope parents will use money or time as an excuse,” she says. “We like to think the bad economy would cut down on some impulsive decisions.”
Need help educating your clients about what it means to own a guinea pig? Click here to download “Guinea pigs are great,” a printable client handout from guinea pig welfare group Guinea Lynx.