'The pig is here': How PJ the class pet found a home after coronavirus upended spring break
Atlanta Humane Society closed its doors to the public due to coronavirus, but these shelter pets are still getting lots of love and attention. USA TODAY
PJ the black-and-brown guinea pig is blissfully unaware of the novel coronavirus.
But after the Deerlake Middle School classroom pet went home with a student for spring break who couldn't keep him throughout quarantine, the school mobilized to find him a new place to stay.
The middle school in northern Leon County circulated an email explaining PJ's circumstances — which is how 7th- and 8th-grade science teacher Erin Smidt ended up adopting a guinea pig during a pandemic.
“He’s awesome. We love him," Smidt said. “He’s part of the family now. The girls wake up and take him out."
2020欧洲杯正规平台The classroom pet belonged to Angie Culpepper, formerly a teacher at the middle school who now teaches at Leon High School.
When Culpepper transferred schools in late 2019, she left PJ in the capable care of the person who took over her classroom. When spring break came around, PJ went home with a student.
But as the coronavirus spread through Florida, the student's family was nervous about their abilities to provide PJ with the kind of long-term care they thought he deserved.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Culpepper, who's had PJ since he was several months old, couldn't take him. She'd recently become the proud owner of an English cocker spaniel, and she didn't like PJ's odds of having a happy life in her house.
"He cannot go home with Angie, as she has a hunting dog who would basically eat him," the school's email explained.
In the safe confines of Smidt's home, PJ is one of many pets including fish, a hamster and two small dogs. Smidt and her husband have two girls, ages 5 and 9, who love the new addition.
On Friday, the family has had him for a week. To make the exchange between families, PJ was dropped off in the school's front lobby. Principal Steve Mills texted Smidt the code: "The pig is here." Smidt went to the school to pick him up.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Smidt said she walks into the room with PJ and he waits for her by the door to his cage. He sits on her desk while she works to grade homework assignments and keeps her company throughout the day.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Her daughters wanted to re-name him "Anna" to keep "Elsa," their male hamster, company. But PJ has been "PJ" for five years, so the girls kept his name.
“He’s my little work buddy when I’m working on my computer. He’s just a sweetheart," Smidt said. “What’s one more (pet) when you already have five?"
Contact CD Davidson-Hiers at CDavidsonH@guatemo.com, or follow her on Twitter @DavidsonHiers.
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