AN ANIMAL-LOVER who shares her Whitnash home with 50 rescue guinea pigs is hoping to raise enough money to build a ‘piggy palace’.
From the outside Gemma Jennings’ two bedroom house looks like any other – but inside she is doing an admirable job caring for some 50 rodents, many of which are disabled or have come from homes where they were badly cared for.
The 37-year-old set up Puddleducks Guinea Pig Rescue Centre last year after being shocked at the amount of animals needing help. She already had two of her own – along with three dogs – but saw a post online by a pregnant lady who was looking to get rid of her pet and was offering it free to a good home.
Mum-of-one Gemma, who lives with her son and partner, told the Observer: “The woman said she couldn’t look after the guinea pig because she was pregnant and wouldn’t have the time. I went to pick him up and was shock, he was in a hamster cage, was dirty and had no food.
“He was about ten months old, weighed half of what he should have and was riddled with lice.
“After that I just kept seeing free to good home adverts. Some of the conditions the piggies were in were horrible. I just couldn’t say no, the fact that we only live in a two bed house and already have three dogs is irrelevant. I will find room for them.
“So my rescue service started and has just got bigger and bigger. I decided to call it Puddleducks after the nickname my parents gave me when I was younger.
“I have never and will never turn a piggy down, I’m not afraid of medical issues or special needs piggies. I want to give these guys the life they deserve and the ability to recover from whatever problems they have.”
But Gemma also has health problems of her own, and had to recently cut down the amount of hours she works at Midland Mobility in Coventry due to her ongoing battle with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The former Wroxall Abbey School pupil says the animals help her on the tough days.
She said: “I find their happy chatter and squeaks cheer me up and make me smile.
“With the pain I experience on a daily basis due my condition, they really help me to relax, and it is so easy to fall asleep with a snuggly warm piggy on your shoulder.”
Gemma is now hoping to convert a large garden shed into a rescue centre just for the animals, so she can continue to save, and care for the guinea pigs, a job which she carries out with the help of her partner and son.
The trio receive support caring for the rodents, with a monthly donation of a hay bale and a local supermarket giving her vegetables for the animals.
But she is hoping to raise £1,000 needed to do work including insulating and waterproofing the building.
Gemma added: “We want to convert our big garden shed into a piggy palace to enable us to help more. The financial side of this is quite large so donations would be great.
“When they do move into it I think I’d have to go with them as the house will be too quiet.”
Search Puddleducks Guinea Pig Rescue on Facebook to find out more or visit www.gofundme.com/puddleducks-guinea-pig-rescue to donate.