Woman with rifle rescues two dozen guinea pigs discovered near Harvey Gap State Park
An unassuming dog walk turned into a critical animal rescue for a Rifle woman on Easter Sunday.
Around 12:45 p.m. on April 17, Sarah Nelson was taking her dogs out to play on a public lot near Harvey Gap State Park when she encountered about 50 guinea pigs.
“I noticed my dog, Gracie, was chewing hard on something, and that’s when I noticed there were, unfortunately, dead guinea pigs all over the place,” Nelson said Thursday. “They were scattered everywhere under the brush, all in the field.
“It was clear they had just been dumped there.”
After putting his dogs back in the vehicle as a precaution, Nelson investigated the area further. At that time, she came across two live guinea pigs – a pregnant female and a baby.
This soon led to the discovery of around 24 live guinea pigs, many of whom sought refuge under nearby vegetation, Nelson said. She then spent the next two hours trying to retrieve the small rodents with a makeshift basket she made from a tarp she had in her vehicle.
“None of them bit me,” she said. “But they were certainly scared. They were screaming and squealing every time I tried to catch them.
Nelson, however, managed to collect the 24 surviving guinea pigs, including two pregnant females. She then took them back to her home in Rifle and immediately began feeding and caring for them.
“I went to Walmart and bought the different bedding, and I bought water bottles, timothy hay and guinea pig pellets,” she said. “I was sure they were hungry and thirsty.”
Later Sunday evening, Nelson posted videos on social media showing her finding and rescuing the guinea pigs. This caused an outpouring of community support.
Nelson said people immediately inquired about animal adoption, while others started donating when Nelson didn’t even ask for money, she said.
“Honestly, all of this kinda helped restore my faith in humanity,” Nelson said. “So many people stepped up and helped out.”
Brandy Clouse contacted Nelson and adopted three guinea pigs. The local Child Protective Services worker said one was pregnant, while the other two rescued by Nelson were the most injured.
Two of the three people in Clouse’s custody survived, she said. The remaining male guinea pig showed major physical impairments and damage.
“It appears that the trauma from his injuries was due to blunt force,” she said.
Clouse said her 15-year-old son, Gavin, showed an immediate interest in animal rehabilitation and wrapped the dead guinea pig in plastic and volunteered to bury it.
“It’s kind of a surprising event for our community to see all these vulnerable animals living in an environment that they can’t survive,” she said.
Glenwood Springs youngster Adelaide Jones, 13, also welcomed two babies and one of the pregnant women. Jones already had two guinea pigs and said Thursday they really were the perfect animal.
She also said the guinea pigs are natural foragers and those found on Sunday may have escaped somewhere. Whatever the cause, Jones is thrilled with Nelson’s efforts to save the animals.
“I believe any caring person would probably do that,” she said. “It was probably not an easy task.”
Nelson said she contacted various agencies for answers about what exactly happened, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Garfield County Sheriff‘s Office, which no longer has a police program. animal control.
If in fact someone has abandoned the animals, Nelson just wants to remind everyone “we have animal shelters for a reason.
“There are so many better ways to handle this,” she said. “It was the cruellest way to get rid of it.”
This week, Nelson managed to find families to adopt all of the guinea pigs she rescued on Sunday – all but two, which she kept for herself. She ended up naming one Clover and the other Jade.
“Jade, because it symbolizes luck and happiness,” she said. “Clover, because a four-leaf clover represents faith, hope, love and luck.”
Journalist Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or [email protected].