The GPS Guinea Pig Sanctuary says they started receiving tips on Monday that guinea pigs were spotted in Heasley Park.
Coordinator Corinne Angell said Friday morning that so far 15 guinea pigs have been rounded up, but they can be tough to catch.
“They’re squirmers,” she said. “They’re really terrified and some of them are easy to catch and some of them are hard, from what I’ve gathered.”
Angell said guinea pigs cannot survive in the wild because they cannot fend for themselves and are considered prey. The recent heat wave is another concern because they can become easily dehydrated.
She said the sanctuary is hopeful all the guinea pigs can be rounded up.
“We’re pretty optimistic about it and we’re hopeful about not finding any dead due to the heat,” Angell said, adding that two guinea pigs even suffered burns to their ears due to the sun.
The week has been overwhelming for the sanctuary, but in a good way Angell said.
“We’ve had quite a few applications in for fostering and adoption,” she said. “We’re just overwhelmed right now, which is good to have the outpouring and support, but they will all need to be vetted.”
Several citizens have volunteered to search for the guinea pigs, and anyone who goes out to the park to look is encouraged to practise social distancing, wear long pants and close-toed shoes.
Anyone who finds a guinea pig is asked to contact the sanctuary.
How the guinea pigs got to Heasley Park hasn’t been confirmed, but Angell said the sanctuary believes a breeder may have dumped them there because pet stores are closed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The sanctuary believes there are at least three dumping sites and there have been reports of guinea pigs being let loose in the Fischer-Hallman Road and Beechwood Drive areas.
Angell said they have reached out to the local Humane Society.
In an email to Global News, the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society said they are not investigating given that cases of animal neglect and abandonment are now handled by the province.
Global News has reached out for comment from the province’s Solicitor’s General office who handle cases of animal neglect and abandonment.