Column: ‘Abandoning pets is not the answer’

Guinea pig and hamster

Waffle (A509051) was one of five guinea pigs left at a pet store in Glendale, and Pepperoni (A510584) was one of 15 hamsters abandoned in front of a local Petco. Adopt them or any other critter – rabbit, guinea pig or hamster – for free during the ‘Hop into Fall’ adoption event, 2-5 p.m. September 23 at Pasadena Humane. No appointment necessary.

After all my years of working in animal shelters, I’m still shocked when animals are abandoned on our doorstep.

It’s hard to forget the terrified face of Belle, a black lab tied tightly to our gate on Del Mar Boulevard with a box of puppies at her side. Or the two Pomeranians, Enzo and Mochi, left in a large, black garbage bag tied shut with no room to move and little air to breathe.

Abandoning an animal is a crime in California. It’s also incredibly dangerous for the animals. Leaving a dog tied to the shelter gate or dropping off a litter of kittens overnight by the front door puts the animals at serious risk of harm.

Too many animals come to us this way. It’s not just dogs and cats who are abandoned. Recently, we’ve had a couple of cases of critters being abandoned at local pet stores in our service area.

Critters such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and mice make great pets. But, if their owners are not careful, these pets can breed (as the saying goes) like rabbits. As we’ve seen many times at Pasadena Humane, new litters can lead to owners becoming overwhelmed.

A few weeks ago, a cardboard box full of hamsters was left in front of a local Petco. The box was not securely closed, so a few of the hamsters escaped and made their way into a sewer drain.

Fortunately, store employees were able to quickly rescue the hamsters, placing all 15 in safe carriers and bringing them to Pasadena Humane. After arriving in our care, two of the hamsters gave birth, making a total of 26 hamsters!

Prior to this incident, an animal control officer was dispatched to a pet store in Glendale where five guinea pigs had been abandoned.

One of the guinea pigs soon gave birth to four guinea “piglets.” Mama Peggy was sent to a foster home, where she could calmly raise her pups. The family is now back at the shelter ready for adoption.

Many people in our community are struggling financially and are having trouble finding pet-friendly housing. I realize that some pet owners feel guilt and shame when they have no choice other than letting go of their pets. But, abandoning pets should not be the answer.

I urge anyone in our service area in need of help with their pets or experiencing a population boom with their critters to reach out to Pasadena Humane at 626-792-7151. Our animal resource call center is open seven-days a week to help.

Our first priority is to provide support — such as our pet food pantry or spay/neuter services — to try to keep pets with the families who love them. When there are no options except relinquishment, an appointment is scheduled for the pet to be brought into the shelter.

If possible, we try to schedule intakes at times when the animals’ arrival will not lead to overcrowding in the shelter and the pets are most likely to be adopted quickly.

Unfortunately, with the recent arrival of all these abandoned critters, plus others in our care, our Critter House is getting quite full.

That’s why we hope you’ll join us for our “Hop into Fall” critter adoption event, 2-5 p.m. Sept. 23 at 361 S. Raymond Ave.

We’ll be waiving the adoption fees for all critters (rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters).

Pasadena Humane’s adoption team will also provide information about housing, diet and care to set you up for success with your new pet. This is a walk-in event, so no appointment is needed.

To view critters for adoption,


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on September 22, 2023.