Strange, wild collision with an exotic animal rescuer at a pet store in Sharpsburg

An o’hara businesswoman is on a mission to find a new home for abandoned and abandoned exotic animals.

Sara Smith owns Sara’s Pets and Plants, Sharpsburg, at 908 Main St.

He cares for more than 100 animals in his shop, each rescued or handed over.

However, Smith rejects the animals who need help because his shelter is full.

“Physically, mentally and financially, we are all extremely overwhelmed, and Sara’s Pets is no exception,” Smith said. – I have no place for them.

Smith, 27, grew up around pets, plants and animals. He spent countless hours at local pet stores.

“As a child, he could always find me in the yard, in the woods, or in the garden when I was communicating with plants and animals,” Smith said.

His shop contains countless animals, including an alligator, spiders, snakes, reptiles, bunnies, bearded dragons, and a very friendly chicken named Princess Peach.

Smith offers pet products for cats and dogs, as well as live and frozen foods for exotic pets.

Smith graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School with a degree in wildlife and fishing science from Penn State University.

He first opened Sara’s in 2018 in Squirrel Hill and then moved to Sharpsburg in 2020.

As one of the few exotic pet rescue organizations in the Pittsburgh region, Smith said he wants the public to consider all the duties and responsibilities that come with keeping animals.

“Many keepers buy a pet and realize very soon that they are not prepared to take care of it. This puts many pets at risk of abuse and / or neglect, ”Smith said.

Take Mildred, a young American alligator.

Mildred was rescued by Smith after making a frantic call from the mother of a 14-year-old boy who apparently had a secret.

“He hid the alligator in his room for weeks, and she found it under a pile of clothes,” Smith said.

Smith said the teenager obtained the alligator from a reptile show without his parents ’permission.

Mildred will live with Sara until she is old enough to be placed in a legal and proper institution.

Mildred is still used for educational purposes.

The city of Pittsburgh banned the possession of alligators last year.

Stacy Hogan of O’hara was afraid of snakes. But Large Marge, a 10-foot-long red-tailed boa that lives with Sara, has been instrumental in helping Hogan overcome his fear of snakes.

Hogan said Large Marge came out of his cage when he first visited Sara.

“Sara helped me overcome my fear of it. I love this place, ”Hogan said.

Hogan has since adopted a hamster named Peanut. “She’s my little darling, and we play on the floor every day.”

Smith said most of the animals he cared for were difficult to house in new homes. Reasons include that the species require special care and require an experienced host.

Smith’s animal care resume includes wildlife conservation, biology and ecology in Tanzania, and as a biologist, a rainforest biodome in Dubai.

Its stock includes hamsters, finches, snakes, parrots, bunnies, rat mice, rats, pigs, parrots, turtles, guinea pigs, cats and of course Mildred.

Sara’s unofficial chicken caretaker is a fast-paced hen named Princess Peach who loves to visit the store and shoppers.

“The other chickens beat him and he likes people more than chickens. He connects with people and loves attention, ”Smith said.

Smith offers educational classes for schools, individuals, groups, birthday parties and fundraisers.

He founded a nonprofit organization to help cover the cost of maintaining his zoo.

The easiest exotic animals to place are bearded dragons and guinea pigs, Smith said.

“However, we are often inundated with guinea pigs and bearded dragons because they are bought for children as‘ easy pets, ’” Smith said. “Kids often become uninterested and the animals end up giving up.”

Lemony Snickets ’10-year-old leopard gecko was abandoned by his family after the kids grew up and lost interest in him.

“She’s looking for someone to give her all the love and attention she needs for the rest of her days,” Smith said.

Clients can book personalized, 30-minute “Pet Petting Days” sessions for $ 15 per person, where participants interact, caress and get to know different animals.

During April, Petting Days are held from Monday to Thursday.

Appointments between 14:00 and 17:30 on 724-826-8520.

Joyce Hanz of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725 at jhanz@triblive.com or via Twitter. .

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