Arts Food News Other People

Small Animal Enthusiasts Denied Same Rights as Privileged Dog Owners

By Pearl Bullivant on October 23, 2018 in Other

The Guineas Stakes, by George Fordham


Dear Pearl – I am a guinea pig aficionado and own several cavies, which I enter in races and beauty contests. The guinea pig community is very large so I was appalled to find that Randwick Council does not support everyone’s favourite rodent, and that they are prohibited from running unleashed in local parks.

I visited Burrows Park with the intention of training my prized guinea pig, Fluffy Henderson, for the chariot division and was unpleasantly surprised to receive a stern warning from a council em- ployee. Now I am forced to train my darlings illegally under spotlight, veiled behind the cover of darkness. This is a terrible case of dog privilege at the expense of small animal owners. Your views please…

Mrs Vo


Dear Mrs Vo – Since I am a law-abiding citizen and a cat owner, you must understand that it is not appropriate for me to endorse illegal rodent-based activities of any kind. Also, I find your letter a little weird. Can you imagine the chaos if guinea pigs were permitted to roam free in the Eastern Suburbs? It would open the floodgates to other rodent owners and traffic on the M4 would triple with ferret owners leaving the comfort of their Glenmore Park McMansions to take advantage of the relaxed leash-free laws in the east. Little Fluffy Henderson and her/his friends may be sweet, well behaved balls of fur, but there will always be a ferret or rat owner ready to spoil the fun for everyone else.

However, Mrs Vo, I do feel your pain. Why is there no RSPCA Million Claws Walk for felines? No cat-friendly caravan accommodation? No winery tours of the Hunter Valley targeted specifically at cat owners? There is nowhere that a cat is welcome even when it is leashed. It’s a dog world.

Cats are much maligned, and for good reason, but when kept under control by their owners they are, like guinea pigs, a congenial pet.

With Sydney’s personal space at a premium, you would think that small animal ownership would be embraced by the masses. But no, not in the selfish Eastern Suburbs where the aim is to take up as much space as possible – on the roads and in car parks with the monstrous European SUVs and on the footpaths with the multi-child mega prams.

And, since every backyard has been taken up by the dream house extension (to accommodate the ultimate status symbol: five kiddies), the must-have dog that is better suited to a quarter-acre block has now created a demand for more and more leash-free parks and canine-friendly facilities (which inevitably leads to more dog poo). But have hope, Mrs Vo. Anything as edgy and underground as guinea pig racing will ultimately be embraced by hipsters, and I can see the day when the cruel greyhound racing industry is usurped by bearded, tattooed men toting guinea pigs at Wentworth Park.

Pearl xxx