Pet shop horror: 'My guinea pig's foot fell off.'
WHEN Gympie woman Michelle Willow checked on the newest member of her family, a young nutmeg-coloured guinea pig bought from a pet shop the day before, she was was left gobsmacked.
The young creature, who had been nestled in a cardboard box overnight, had lost its foot.
The guinea pig was on one side of the box but the foot was on the other side.
Far from the usual escape or nervous close call stories people have about guinea pigs, Michelle said she wouldn't have believed this story if she hadn't seen it herself.
"I was mortified. It was not quite the 'welcome to your new home' I had envisioned for the little lady,” she told The Gympie Times.
Michelle bought the animal last week, as a friend for Ruby Tuesday - a black female guinea-pig much-loved by Michelle's nine-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.
"I didn't handle her at the store, but she was relatively active,” Michelle said.
When they got home and lifted the guinea pig out of the box they noticed a very distinct abnormality in her hind leg, she said.
"The leg was sticking out at a 90 degree angle. It was an unmistakably old, untreated injury.”
Michelle called the pet shop, who offered a refund and to check it with their vet, but not the option to return the pet after a vet check-up, so the concerned pet lover instead took the guinea pig to her own vet.
She was told there was no possibility of having the foot repaired, but to make the guinea pig as comfortable as possible.
It wasn't until the next day she made the shocking discovery, describing the wound site as "astonishingly minor, considering the foot was completely and irreparably detached” and comparing it to the docking of a tail.
A spokeswoman for the pet shop said the staff at the store had no idea there was anything wrong with the guinea pig when they sold it.
"I can't see what's happened to it,” she said.
She said she asked the new owner to bring the guinea pig back to the store and offered to buy it back.
"I needed to see for myself. I don't understand.”
She said the pets are handled three times a day and if there was anything wrong with it, it wouldn't have been sold.
But Michelle says she does not know how the guinea pig's condition was overlooked.
"Anyone handling that poor animal would have seen it. It's amazing to me that she was sold in that condition,” she said.
"You don't expect to bring a pet home and have it fling limbs off across the cage.”
The RSPCA told Michelle it could not hold the pet shop liable for the animal's condition because it could not be proven the pet shop owners were aware of the injury.
The next day the guinea pig, now christened Captain Nutpeg, passed away, most likely from the shock of the events, Michelle believes.
"In the end I'm grateful that she didn't die alone in the pet shop,” Michelle said.