Rescue is My Life & Legacy
I believe my entire life has been focused on helping animals. I was the little girl that saved baby birds, baby chicks that the neighboring farmer gave zero chance of making it, baby ducks, bats, opossums, racoons, squirrels, rabbits, the list goes on and on. I've had just about all the cute and fuzzy animals you can imagine and all the normal big ones like horses, cows, & goats. I was the little girl that animals that no one else could touch, would come to me, sit in my lap and go to sleep. I respect life and love all animals deeply.
I was fortunate enough to work for a large animal veterinarian for many years. Those experiences were priceless and opened up my eyes to the need for animal rescue. I've been an advocate for the humane society and helped support a lot of other rescues. It is a really big commitment, hard work and very long hours. You don't do rescue for the money...there is never enough of that. It is for the ones you save. When an animal looks you in the eyes with that thankful gaze of trust after coming from a bad situation or a sickness...that is the reward. That is what I find so fulfilling.
I've volunteered with dog, cat & horse rescue facilities. There seem to be many of these wonderful organizations doing excellent work. I managed an exotic cat breeding facility for several years. I have a great love and appreciation for the big cats. There was, however, a lack of reptile rescues. In 2014, I stepped into the world of reptiles in a big way. My best friend, JR Jones, became my business partner and we opened a pet store with the purpose of it providing education and funding our rescue efforts . That was the birth of Piedmont Reptile Rescue.
We started in a little 800 sq' building in Graham, NC. We loved that little store but even with our first round of rescues, we outgrew it! We moved into a 2500 sq' building in Burlington, NC and it didn't take long until we were bursting at the seams there too. We offered educational programs, had volunteers working in all areas of animal care, offered community service hours, and college credit hours to the students at ACC. We moved to our last store front, 6000 sq', in the Old BMOC outlets in Burlington, NC. We really enjoyed that store. We housed educational programs, had field trips visit us, and it held a lot of animal habitats that filled up quickly. Then, we had the chance to buy a farm in Greensboro, NC. That was 10 acres and a pond of perfection for a rescue to grow and expand our capabilities. We gave up the store front and applied the rent money to buildings and specific habitats. It's fabulous to grow and make such an impact. That farm is still growing and expanding with the management of JR. He has added his grandson Luc to his household and together, they are continuing to make a much needed difference in our rescue society. JR has a lifetime of reptile knowledge and specializes in the larger snake breeds. We continue to supply feeders at an affordable price to local customers and offer refuge to surrendered reptiles.
I have moved to Abilene Texas to be near my grandchildren and have opened Piedmont Reptile Rescue West. I continue to offer the same services as we provide in NC to the wonderful people here in Texas. I've been here less than a year and already house over 300 animals and have started a commercial rodent breeding facility. My new building arrives this week as site prep has been completed. This will allow me to develop an area for bearded dragons. I have developed a special fondness for them and we take in a large number of these wonderful critters! I've been warmly received and am making friends quickly. Animal people are a special breed and this lifestyle of service is a true labor of love.
Covid-19 and the ensuing closed society mentality of the past year changed many lifestyles. Animals came flooding in as people lost their ability to earn a living. We lost the ability to represent our services at the reptile shows and public educational programs came to a screeching halt. We continued to take in surrenders and changed to the website platform. We made the necessary sacrifices to keep our services available and will continue to live modestly so our animals get the care they need.
Adoption Fees. This is a big topic when it comes to rescues. In understanding what we are asking for, you must be aware of what a rescue really represents. We are used as a dumping ground for sick and injured animals versus taking them for vet care. We get a lot of surrenders from people relocating and not able to take them. People buy inappropriate reptiles without doing the research for their development and care, only to realize it is out of their capabilities or the animal outgrows their comfort zone. Large & dangerous animals are found and confiscated through police cases, or found running loose. Domestic animal shelters do not have adequate training or a facility for reptiles so we get called to step in. It doesn't take long to have many, many animals to care for. It is expensive to properly care for and maintain ONE animal. Now multiply that by hundreds. Out of the hundreds, there will be a small percentage that recover well, or was healthy at turn in, that qualifies for rehoming. The rest are taken care of by US and we absorb all that expense. We try to find sanctuaries and place as many as we can as openings happen. The zoo has taken a few special animals that have passed through our facility. So when we put a healthy animal up for adoption, the fee isn't a representation of a retail price. It is a figure we are asking to help offset the cost for all the other animals you don't see and are not eligible or not appropriate for rehoming to the general public.
So, in choosing to care for hundreds of animals, we forfeit the life of travel and our days become very long and full with care and maintenance. Long days and nights holding a sick animal, tending wounds, fixing broken water pipes or running generators while power is out. Our animals live in a very fragile world that requires our complete attention or they perish. It is wonderfully fulfilling and I can't imagine doing anything else. It isn't for everyone, but it IS for US.
Thank you to everyone that has volunteered with us, worked for, supported us through donations and to those that have adopted animals from us. A big shout out and thank you to the folks currently helping and supporting our efforts and spreading the word that we exist & truly care for our animals. It is truly a labor of love. God Bless~