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Posted at 3:02 p.m. PDT Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Castro Valley Guinea pig lady gathers growing menagerie in apartment

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (AP) -- It's a ragtag menagerie that only a guinea pig lover could love.

Sharlene Scheffer has rescued 160 bruised, battered and abandoned guinea pigs in the last four years and has put them in cages in her two-bedroom apartment.

She calls it the Cavy World Guinea Pig Rescue and has pledged to take in any guinea pig in need.

``I have never said 'no' to taking one yet,'' Scheffer said. ``I have dedicated my life to them.''

Scheffer, a veterinary technician, says she works more than 70 hours per week to care for the rodents, which require 250 pounds of wood shavings and at least 100 pounds of food pellets each week, along with doses of Vitamin C, carrots and other vegetables.

Scheffer says that vet bills for her rescued brood are waived by generous veterinarians.

Guinea pigs, which originated in South America, are generally considered low-maintenance pets.

Scheffer said she plans to move into a larger apartment to accommodate her growing number of charges but hopes that they can be adopted out to foster homes.

She says she would miss the animals and their quirky habits, such as sticking their nose through their cages and chattering in anticipation of treats.

``Sometimes when I have a headache and reach for a bottle of Tylenol, they hear it and start squeaking to be fed,'' Scheffer said.

For more information Cavy World Guinea Pig Rescue, please call 510-690-0998.

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