Rescued guinea pigs, rabbits free for teachers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rescued guinea pigs, rabbits free for teachers

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Animals that were rescued from what police said was a "dangerous" situation in eastern Iowa could soon find new homes in area classrooms.

In January, hundreds of animals, from snakes to rabbits, were taken from a Vinton Home where officials said they were being neglected. The animals were then taken in by the Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids.

The shelter is now reaching out to teachers -- saying any in the area who want a classroom pet can adopt a pair of guinea pigs or one rabbit for free. A cage and supplies are not included, but would be needed for them.

Preston Moore, Cedar Valley Humane Society Director of Development & Community Outreach, said the animals have been healthy enough for adoption after they came in dehydrated and underfed, but many are still in need of a home. He said they got the idea to offer free adoptions for teachers through the work they do in classrooms, that's called a Humane Education Program.

"I know a lot of our staff members, myself included, we had classroom pets when we were growing up. It's something that teaches responsibility to these students but it also teaches from a very early age these students to be compassionate to these animals," Moore said.

Teachers can adopt just one guinea pig if they choose, but Moore said they are encouraging pairs of adoptions because the animal needs a social environment. That's why he said a classroom would also be a perfect fit for them.

"They'll see a lot of people and a lot of people are going to be interacting with them and honestly that just makes these little critters happy. It helps reduce their stress level," he said.

The adoptions would also reduce the stress on the shelter. There's still upwards of 300 guinea pigs, plus a handful of rabbits, that need to be adopted. Moore said the number of guinea pigs is also increased after some have recently given birth.

"We think a classroom environment as long all the students are able to commit, along with the teacher, to taking care of them. I think it would be a really good environment for them," he said.

Interested teachers would need to bring in a school ID and a letter from the school that shows that the animals would be allowed in the classroom.

After costs of labor, medicine, and supplies, Moore estimated that up to $1,000 has been spent on each animal that needed attention. Donations can be given to the shelter on its website.

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