Howard Magazine - Page 31 - Small Wonders (2)

Howard Magazine
- Page 31
Small Wonders (2)
While cat and dog adoption tend to grab the most notice, Sophia and her family are part of an increasing trend to adopt smaller animals – hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, ferrets, rabbits, birds and reptiles – that find their way to local shelters and rescues.

Nationally, more small animals are joining families by adoption, according to statistics compiled by the American Pet Products Association in its 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey. The association found that of the households with small pets, the number adopting instead of buying increased steadily between 2012 and 2016. For instance, the study found that 46 percent of the households with guinea pigs adopted them in 2012, compared with 53 percent of households that adopted in 2016. There were similar increases in adoptions of hamsters, birds, rabbits and reptiles.

For the past seven years, the number of the small domestic pets coming into Howard County Animal Control and Adoption Center has remained steady at about 100 each year. Most animals are surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them.

“A lot of people do not remember to look to us when they’re looking to get a hamster or guinea pig and they’ll go to a pet store,” Nancy Blood, Animal Control’s kennel supervisor, said. The “cute furry guys” can sometimes be at the shelter for a month before someone puts in an application to adopt them, she said.

Some of the smaller animals are easier to adopt out, like the four parakeets who came to the shelter after they were discovered abandoned in a cage in a parking lot. Guinea pigs and hamsters also tend to move from the shelves of the shelter’s small animal room, built specifically to house the “small domestic other” pets.

Overall, she said, the wait times have improved. “They didn’t move as quickly before social media,” she said. “I think it’s helped raise awareness that different types of pets can be adopted other than just dogs and cats.”

That’s been much of the success for Friends of Rabbits, which was founded in 1994 and has grown to become the largest rabbit-specific rescue in the Maryland-Virginia and Washington D.C. area, according to volunteer executive