By Phil Snyder, Executive Director,
Suncoast Humane Society
ENGLEWOOD Fla. – When people think of animals handled by humane societies and animal shelters, they think mostly of dogs and cats that are surrendered and adopted out. In actuality, shelters handle a wide range of animals that go far beyond the more popular household pets.
As examples, depending upon policies and land locations some shelters receive lost or straying livestock, such as horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, and even peacocks. Many receive native wildlife, including, birds, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits turtles, and snakes. Often these are orphaned or injured wild animals that are transferred to partnering wildlife rehab centers.
Some humane societies/animal control agencies that I have been with even handled various types of exotic animals. There has been Emu, Ostridge, pot-bellied pigs, wolf hybrid, confiscated lions and tigers, and monkeys, including gibbon and chimpanzees, to name a few. If you ever try to capture an Ostridge or Emu, or safely contain a chimpanzee, you are in for a rare experience, not to mention an extreme danger. Animal control officers that have responded to these types of calls can attest to that. Once captured, these animals are, hopefully, safely relocated to appropriate surroundings. And, that can be a challenge in itself.
More practical, yet still lesser known species that are brought to shelters include rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, pet rats, and caged birds. parakeets, canaries, finches, love birds and even an occasional parrot are routinely surrendered to shelters. Often, these small pets are purchased as novelties without much thought for their long term care. Sadly they become disposable and end up at a shelter.
Even though people think to drop these small critters off at an animal shelter when they no longer want them, many other people do not think of their local humane society or animal shelter when they want to obtain these critters. They are drawn to the advertising of large chain pet centers.
Currently Suncoast Humane Society has 20 of these small pets available for adoption. This includes 6 guinea pigs, 6 rabbits, 3 gerbils, 3 hamsters, and 2 parakeets. I am sure other shelters also have their share. It seems when one is adopted out, two more are surrendered in. There are many homes that are unable to have a dog or cat and these little critters can be very rewarding as pets. If they are handled and cared for properly, they can be a joy to live with.
If you or anyone you know is considering giving a home to one of these small critters, please think of your local humane society or animal shelter first. Come, take a look. You may just fall in love and also will be giving one of these little guys a second chance.
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