Filling in the Gap: Gecko Rescue
I’ve been involved with various animal rescue organizations since I was sixteen years old. I have helped cleaned cages and plenty of litter boxes, fostered (dogs, cats, and rats), and even took pictures for a shelter so they could list their available animals online. When my passion for reptiles started in the early spring of 2012 I quickly realized that the rescue resources available for “regular” pets such as cats and dogs were not available for the scaly creatures I loved. Most animal shelters are not equipped to handle reptiles or amphibians and the few places that offer assistance are often overwhelmed. After taking in my first gecko in need, a skinny, nervous leopard gecko dubbed Vader, I knew I had to do something so several months later The Gecko Sanctuary was born.
Origins and Transport
The Gecko Sanctuary focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating, and re-homing geckos (and other reptiles and amphibians) in the New England area. In addition, I also run a group on Facebook dedicated to helping transport reptiles and amphibians in need to foster, rescue, or their permanent homes. There are instances where an animal isn’t in the proper condition to ship, or the weather isn’t cooperating, so it’s safer and less stressful to set up a transport of several volunteers to drive the animal to its destination. Each leg of the transport is generally an hour long so no one driver has to be on the road for an extended period of time. Several organizations exist to assist transports for dogs and cats but like most animal shelters these groups do not handle, or know the need, to move reptiles and amphibians in the same fashion. The reptile transport group is designed to help individuals as well as rescue organizations that care for reptiles and amphibians. If you care to learn more about these efforts, or to volunteer, you can check out the group at – Reptile Transport.
The group was created shortly after the first reptile transport I assisted with which was for a bearded dragon suffering from a pronounced respiratory infection in Ohio that needed to get to a rescuer in New York. I worked closely with the rescuer in New York to get all the legs set up utilizing transport groups designed for dogs as well as asking for help on every reptile-centric group we could locate on Facebook and even put posts up on Craig’s List. Thanks to the generosity of several individuals (and hours of communication and effort from the rescuer and myself) we were able to move Sophie and she is now safe and recovering with Amanda at Dragon Heart Rescue and Sanctuary.
Plans for the Future
To help get the word out on The Sanctuary and the transport group, I intend to have a booth at several local reptile expos. Prepping for these events often includes getting business cards created, generating information on the rescue and its animals including fliers and booklets, and brainstorming activities to engage children and also try to drive donations. These expos offer a unique opportunity to meet with a wide variety of individuals including other rescues, breeders, veterinary clinics, and general reptile enthusiasts. Having a presence at these events is something that The Gecko Sanctuary truly believes in as many reptile lovers do not know about the rescuing aspect of the hobby and we want to change that.
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Lauren O'BrienVisit Website
Lauren is the President and Founder of The Gecko Sanctuary which is primarily run out of her home just West of Boston, MA. Her passion for reptiles, and ultimately geckos, began in early 2012 and she soon called more than one scaly critter part of her family. She now has two bearded dragons, two crested geckos, one gargoyle gecko, and one Western Hognose snake on top of a couple furred animals and the rescues that come through. She loves her work in rescue (though wishes the need wasn't there) and often dedicates a lot of her time that isn't spent directly on the animals educating whomever she can on the proper care for reptiles and trying to break some of the stigma surrounding reptiles.