Herp Societies and Rescues
Care & Keeping:
Fostering Organizations for Military Pets
For exotics, don't forget to check with the local pet interest groups, like herp societies, and vets who treat exotics, for leads on possible foster homes.
Societies & Herp Rescues
The majority of herp societies are volunteer organizations, started and continued by people interested in herp natural history, keeping and breeding. Many of them are incorporated as nonprofits, with the board of directors serving without remuneration, with funding to keep the organizations going coming from memberships, donations, raffles, tee-shirt and book sales.
The addresses for these organizations may be someone's home or place of business. Rarely does such an organization actually have an office, with full time staff where people looking for information can just drop in or voicemail you can leave a message on at 3 A.M.
If fact, since you may be calling someone at their home or place of business, call during normal business hours and the very early evening, not in the early morning or mid-late evening. Please don't give these generous individuals any reason to regret that they have volunteered to help the organization.
Some herp societies have members or committees who do herp rescues and adoptions. The cost of doing the rescue, rehab, maintaining and feeding the animals before they are rehomed is usually borne by those individuals doing all the work. In only a few cases do the herp societies fund their committee's rescue/rehab work.
Being a nonprofit doesn't turn on any magic or automatic source of funding. It just means that it might be a little easier to get people to make donations, as the donations will be tax deductible. Memberships in such organizations are not completely deductible, not if members receives goods and services (such as newsletters) in return for their membership fee.
If you are looking for a society or rescue in order to find someone to pay for the veterinary care your pet's needs, it is unlikely to happen. If you are looking for a group of people who are interested in herps, and would like to attend meetings to hear interesting speakers, learn through reading the newsletters, go on field trips with experienced herpers, and just generally share your joy and wonder at living with herps (and invertebrates, as many herpers do), then join a society or two.
If you are looking to find a new home for a reptile or amphibian, or would like to adopt one, or would like to volunteer to help those doing rescue and rehab, then contact a reptile rescue and herp society.
Many rescues and herp societies participate in community events by doing educational outreach, setting up booths at Earth Day and other such events. If you'd like to help them with these efforts, most groups are always interested in more such volunteers.
A Note On Rescues
Not all rescues do a good job... A few, unfortunately, are people who are more into collecting animals by whatever means they can than someone who has invested time and resources in getting the training they need to become knowledgeable about the health and care requirements of the animals they take in--and to properly finance their rescue efforts.
Others start off doing a good job, but become overwhelmed by the number of people who contact them. They feel that they can't say no to any herp in need, even when they start having trouble taking care of the ones already under their care. In short, they can't just say, "No." In some instances, these well-meaning individuals become animal hoarders. Hoarding animals is now considered a mental health issue as well as an animal welfare and public health issue. Rescuers are subject to burnout, as well. For more information, and a cautionary tale to those doing rescue, please read my article, Burnout: When Rescuers Need Rescuing.
People and circumstances change. Check out the rescues first before turning your pet over to them.
Finally, if you are looking to get another pet--of any species--please consider adopting one from a rescue. These are animals who desperately need caring homes in which to spend the rest of their lives. This goes especially for socially dynamic animals like green iguanas. Even if they were not tamed or cared for properly by their former owners, that doesn't mean that they cannot be by someone who is knowledgeable and patient. As an example of how a bad situation can be made good, please read Zilla's story.
If you have an iguana you need to place because it is not tame, you will have much better luck learning to work with the iguana properly and keeping it than you will have in finding a good home for it. Contact the societies, rescues and vets in your area to find people experienced in taming iguanas and contact these individuals, paying them if necessary, to come and work with you and your iguana.
If you have an iguana you need to place because it is sick and you can't afford the vet bills, work on finding ways to borrow the money and work out payment arrangements with your vet...or consider having the iguana humanely euthanized if there is no way and no one who can take it on.
If more people took responsibility for the animals they get, shelters and rescues for all animals would be far less overcrowded and financially strapped, and there would be room for those animals from people who really have absolutely no choice and no way out of being forced to rehome their pets.
For additional Canadian listings, see Tricia Power's Canadian Herp Societies site.
Liability Insurance for Your Rescue?
If you have been looking for liability insurance for your herp rescue education program and volunteers, but have not been able to afford the quotes you've obtained from other brokers and insurers, check out AWOIP. I heard about them on the Reptile Rescue Alliance's Reptile Rescue Network email list.
Need to update a veterinary or herp society/rescue listing?
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