Guinea pig rescue effort scurrying for proper papers

Shown here are the guinea pigs at Lexi's Lockport Guinea Pig Rescue during playtime. As of yet, no stray cats, hawks, or unleashed dogs have come to disrupt their pen – just the city building inspector. Lexi Sonberg said she'll persevere and try to get a special use permit to continue her "piggies" rescue, as well as plan for any other chance disaster. (Photo submitted)

LOCKPORT — Lexi Sonberg, 24, has four kids under age 4, two stepsons, a job at a local pizzeria, a new house and is engaged. Anyone else might’ve said, “No!” to any more projects, but Sonberg is of the mind that she’s got more to give.

Despite a visit from the city building inspector, Sonberg said she intends to carry on, fill out the necessary paperwork and keep up the work she’s started.

And what’s the work? Try an animal rescue for guinea pigs who might’ve else been turned into snake food.

It may seem funny, but as of August, Sonberg was looking for some pets for her children and ended up on Craigslist, a classifieds web site, and realized people were giving away these pets to anyone without any check. She couldn’t in good conscience see these pets go by the wayside, so she decided to set up Lexi’s Lockport Guinea Pig Rescue.

So far, Sonberg has found new homes for 15 of the “piggies.” 

Some have gone to homes with existing pigs – they’re very social animals, said Sonberg, and need friends – some have left the rescue as pairs of the same sex to first time “pig” owners. Some of them have found their way to classrooms as class pets. And some of them, 35 and 45 pigs, are still at the rescue.

Building Inspector Jason Dool said that he serviced the call himself. He said he wouldn’t have been there except that the rescue appears to be a business – adoption fees are $35 for each pig – and therefore it needs a special use permit from the common council. Sonberg said Dool gave her until Nov. 1 to get the permit or rehome all the animals.

“I’m not doing anything wrong in my opinion, I’m helping everyone, in my opinion,” Sonberg said. “It’s just a debbie downer. … He was nice to me, He said, after I talked to him on the phone, he wouldn’t even be here if they were pets. I understand, but it’s not like I’m making any money. I’m losing a lot.”

Sonberg ballparked the cost of caring for the rescue to be about $400 a month. Expenses include hay, kibble and fresh veggies. She said she doesn’t receive cash donations any more because she wants to make sure everyone knows the money is going to the animals and only accepts supplies for their feed.

Sonberg comes from a history of animal care. She was raised on a farm in Barker where she didn’t have any kind of pigs, but she did have dogs and cows. 

She was struck hard by the fact that someone had reported her to the city, but really considers herself a trouble-shooter. Whatever the problem is, she’s more than happy to fix it.

“I’m hoping that application will clear it up,” she said. “I’m new at this, I can see where he’s coming from, but that’s so they don’t become snake bait.”

To make sure that doesn’t happen Sonberg vets each of her adopters and stays in touch.

“If you have one, make sure it’s the proper sex, because breeding pairs don’t help anything,” she said. “I get updates. I know exactly the home they’re going to.”

Join Lexi’s Lockport Guinea Pig Rescue on Facebook for more information.

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