by SOPHIE BIRD
Alex Hernly and Jason Minsterketter are co-founders of The Pipsqueakery, a small-animal rescue that saves more than 400 rodent and rabbit lives each year. But before they married, the couple didn’t even consider themselves “animal people.”
“We said we were never going to have pets,” Hernly recalls. “But then we got a hamster, and then we got three more hamsters, and one of those hamsters turned out to be sick.”
When that hamster, Pipsqueak, died, the couple founded The Pipsqueakery in her honor. Since becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2016, The Pipsqueakery has provided care to about 1,600 animals. The couple currently houses up to 150 hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, rats, chinchillas, and other small animals in their walk-out basement.
It’s not an easy task. Hernly, who works full time as a data privacy specialist at Cook Medical, devotes an additional 80 hours a week to The Pipsqueakery. In 2019, Minsterketter quit his nursing job to focus all of his attention on the organization.
Many of the residents have medical conditions like diabetes, blindness, and dental disease and require daily care. Just preparing all of the animals for bed can take up to four hours, Hernly says.
The Pipsqueakery is one of the few rodent and rabbit rescues in the country, which means its services are in high demand.
“It’s a rare week when we don’t take in at least five animals,” Hernly says. And for every five animals that receive care, an additional six to 10 animals are turned away each day. “Right now, we’re very limited on what we can do because, frankly, we’re out of space.”
In response, the couple is raising funds to construct a 5,000-square- foot, standalone building to house The Pipsqueakery. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring; hopes are it will be finished by September. The new facility will provide room for more animals and space for educational programming.
Thus far, funds have been raised by friends and family, as well as The Pipsqueakery’s more than 130,000 social media followers.
“No amount is too small to give, just as no life is too small to save,” Hernly says.
For more information or to donate, visit thepipsqueakery.org.