What do you do when you find 250 guinea pigs in one man’s one-bedroom apartment in Lane County? The Greenhill Humane Society, the Oregon Humane Society, and Lane County Animal Services can tell you. They were all involved in a great guinea pig pilgrimage earlier this week, transporting the furry find in an undertaking unofficially titled “Operation GP.”

The guinea pigs were rounded up and brought by industrial van from the Lane County location to the Oregon Humane Society, which has found foster families for a number of the guinea pigs that are currently pregnant and is working on a timeline for adoption of the rest—keep an eye on the OHS website for adoption details, coming soon. While they await their forever family placements, the guinea pigs are being housed in the society’s Cat and Kitten Intake Center, which had been vacant since March—volunteers are now dubbing it “Guinea Pig Village.”

According to Megan Brezovar, events and community engagement manager at the Eugene-based Greenhill Humane Society, the whole situation began with two guinea pigs. Fifteen years on, their number had swelled to 250, which is when Lane County Animal Services received a call. They brought in the Greenhill and Oregon Humane Societies, who paid the first visit. And despite the somewhat cramped living conditions, “99 percent” of the guinea pigs they found there were in good health, says Brezovar, and obviously had been cared for.

Laura Klink, public information manager at Oregon Humane Society, said that in her 22 years there the only situation of this caliber that comes to mind was an exotic bird rescue in 2016. Brezovar, however, once worked on a case in which an elderly lady being moved into hospice care left Greenhill with 130 cats on their hands.

Both Klink and Brezovar expressed their gratitude for the work of the veterinary social worker intern from Oregon Humane Society who responded to the guinea pig–loving gentleman with care and sensitivity. “Ultimately, if anybody knows of a situation like this that is getting out of control, please have compassion,” says Brezovar. “These are also social and mental health issues. We need to give these people the support they need to help them help themselves. This is more common than people know, and there’s a lot of shame involved, which leads to people not asking for help out of embarrassment.”

Klink pointed to the pros of guinea pigs themselves. “If you’re ever having a bad day, look at videos of a guinea pig eating lettuce. Watching them chomp away melts my heart.” 

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