The Null Device
The latest cottage industry in Switzerland is guinea pig rental. Switzerland has very strict animal welfare laws, under which it is an offence to keep animals described as social species, which include guinea pigs, without companions. Which means that law-abiding Swiss guinea-pig owners were faced with a legal dilemma once one of their pets passed away:
Without her rent-a-guinea pig service, the owner would have to purchase a new, probably younger guinea pig as a companion to the ageing survivor, whose eventual death would force the purchase of yet another guinea pig, locking the owner into an endless cycle of guinea pig purchases in order to adhere to Swiss law -- even though he or she may only ever have wanted one guinea pig in the first place.
She takes 50 Swiss francs (€41) for a castrated male and 60 francs for a female, "as a deposit," Küng explains. In effect, she sells the animals but pays back half the purchase price when they are returned. The job of the leased rodents is to cheer up companions in their twilight years.