After learning he would be deployed to Germany in only two weeks’ time, Ronald Demaret and his wife, Ella, scrambled to find out how they could bring their bearded dragon Leus across the globe.
But soon, they discovered that their pet would not be able to come with them.
“I can’t really describe how emotional it’s been to have this animal with us for two years and to part ways,” Ronald said. “We have to basically ship all our stuff and get everything done by two weeks. So we don’t have any time to take care of her or nurture her with the time that we have. It’s just been tough.”
Heartbroken, they looked among family and friends in hopes of finding a familiar home for Lexus.
“She wasn’t just a pet. She’s like family,” Ella said.
When no one was able to take the bearded dragon, the Demarets began looking for other options. Eventually, they found a place they knew she would be safe and find a good home.
“We were just looking online on where we could bring her, called, and they said, ‘Yeah, we have an open space for her,’” Ella said.
“We know she’ll definitely be taken care of,” Ronald added.
Although known for its work in rescuing dogs and cats, the Pikes Peak Humane Society is also a temporary home for other kinds of critters.
“Everybody thinks of us as having dogs and cats here — but that’s not all we have,” said Cody Costra, the Humane Society’s public relations manager. “We have a lot of domesticated animals that are small and scaly instead of furry.”
From hamsters and rabbits to turtles and snails — yes, snails — the Humane Society names and cares for each creature.
“We bring them in, and we do take care of them: Get them fed, make sure that they’re healthy, and they are ready to find that new family,” Costra said.
Take Basket, for example, a cold-water, black and brown suckermouth catfish. Or Raphaela, a 7-year-old, yellow-bellied turtle. Then there’s Hazel, a 7-month-old, agouti shorthaired rabbit. And of course, Craig, a 2-year-old tricolored guinea pig that must be adopted with his best friend Rosie, a black lionhead rabbit.
The little critters often come in as surrenders, Costra said, especially among military families like the Demarets, who must move and can’t take their pet with them.
“They need to find a shelter for those animals as well, and hopefully find them new homes,” Costra said. “So they bring them in to us, and then we can help them find those new homes.”
It’s not just smaller animals that the center takes in. While less often, Costra said, the Pikes Peak Humane Society does rescue and adopt out livestock, like pigs and roosters.
“We do see livestock sometimes,” Costra said. “Our animal law enforcement team picks them up, they bring them in, and hopefully we can find them their home that they were part of, or we can help them find their new home.”
The adoption fees for the smaller animals are often lower than that of cats and dogs, which are usually around $100-$250; often they are free, depending on how long they’ve been at the shelter.
“They’re typically a little bit cheaper in their adoption price,” Costra said. “With some of the animals that you have seen that are free, they maybe have been with us a little bit longer, and they just need a little bit of help trying to find the right home.”
The shelter takes in animals any time of year, Costra said.
“Right now we have a lot of rabbits, so if you are looking for a rabbit, we have a lot,” Costra said. “Guinea pigs are always in the shelter as well. So if you want a guinea pig, they’re very social, and they would love to have some friends.”
For animals that might benefit from more specific rescue organizations, like wildlife, Costra said the Humane Society partners with local sanctuaries to make sure all animals are taken care of.
Interested in adding a smaller family member? The Pikes Peak Humane Society has matchmakers that will help you meet with an animal you might have your eye on.
If it’s a match, you can usually take them home that same day after the normal adoption process.
Costra also offered tips for those thinking about adopting. First, if you’re considering adopting an animal you’ve never had before, do some research.
“Make sure you know about their diet, what kind of foods they eat, and make sure you know about the space that they need,” he said. “You know, rabbits aren’t going to be good in cages all day. They do need some time outside as well and just make sure that you’re well versed in what that animal needs before you do bring them home.”
But most importantly, it’s about finding the right fit.
“Our small animals, they all have their own personalities,” Costra said. “So it’s just about finding that right fit for the right family.”