Hello from the PigPen! With this entry, we want to bring to you a true story of love between an animal and a human and the plight of one very special pig that we know who currently lives in Australia.
Casper is no ordinary guinea pig. Born blind, deaf and with severe dental issues, she is only one of a handful of living ‘lethal white’ guinea pigs in the world: most lethal whites die within hours of birth, hence the name. A true survivor at a year and half old, Casper may live another four years. And she needs a flight halfway across the world.
Now that her Canadian owner is moving from Port Hedland, Western Australia back to Vancouver, Canada, Casper needs a ride on board a plane--not in cargo, which is the only way commercial flights will accept her--in order to survive the transpacific trip. As Casper gets all her water from fresh vegetables and hand-feedings, she wouldn't survive the 15-hour flight from Sydney to Vancouver.
“Casper is very special,” says her owner Jenn Ladd, “and not just because she’s beaten the odds to survive. I consider her the ‘Helen Keller’ of guinea pigs for her amazing ability to not only enjoy her life immensely, but to be able to communicate with me. Lethal whites tend to be very affectionate and cuddly, so she spends a lot of time on my lap. She nibbles on my finger when she needs to use her litter box. Even though she’s profoundly deaf, she makes all the right guinea pig noises at the right times.
“I’m like Helen Keller’s companion", Anne Sullivan, which is why re-homing Casper isn’t an option. She’s fed a pellet mush four times a day through a syringe, and her veggies are cut up in to thin narrow strips in order for her to slurp them up like spaghetti, as she can’t take bites. I’ve tried to have other people feed her but she just won’t eat for anyone but me.”
Casper’s dental bills have added up since she was born in March 2008, and she’s seen Perth veterinary dental specialist Dr. Elizabeth Vickridge monthly and sometimes even weekly for tooth trimmings and extractions. Guinea pigs’ teeth continually grow but grind down against each other to keep them neat and trim: Casper has only one front tooth, which needs to be trimmed, and molars that grow over and entrap her tongue, requiring shaving in order for Casper to eat properly.
“I've asked all the commercial airlines that fly out of Australia if they will consider allowing Casper on board in her small crate but none will. She’s only 950 grams, and travels in a small cat carrier that fits under an airline seat,” says Jenn. “My hope is that a commercial airline will make an exception, or a private airline can make space on board for me and Casper. If I were Richard Branson, it wouldn’t be difficult to get Casper to Canada, but I’m just an ordinary person with an extraordinary pet.”
Lethal whites are the result of poor breeding practices by those who do not realize that crossing certain breeds of guinea pigs could produce these severely disabled babies.
For more information on Lethal White guinea pigs:
Join the cause 'Fly Casper Home' on Facebook http://apps.facebook.com/causes/343808/81161052?m=fb5a6ed7 , and add Casper Ladd as a friend to see more photos of this special guinea pig.
Casper on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khqdxSqVGRo
Photos of Casper: