FWC seeks good homes for unwanted nonnative pets

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announces another Pet Amnesty Day at the Miami MetroZoo on Feb. 6 and needs potential adopters to provide good homes for pets that are turned in at the event.

The FWC urges people who have an exotic pet they can’t care for anymore to bring it to Pet Amnesty Day rather than opening their front door and letting it loose.

It’s illegal to release a nonnative animal into the wild in Florida, and it could be detrimental for the animal and the environment.  Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day, hosted in conjunction with the Miami MetroZoo, is one of the FWC’s efforts to keep unwanted exotic pets out of Florida’s native habitats.

“We are expecting to get quite a few nonnative animals that day, so we need to make sure we have safe homes for them,” said Jenny Tinnell of the FWC.  “Released pets are a common pathway that allows exotic species into the wild. Often, pet owners don’t understand the difference between native and nonnative species, or they don’t realize the possible effects releasing a nonnative species can have. This event gives pet owners who can no longer take care of their pets, or no longer wish to keep them, a legal, ethical option.”

Currently, the FWC is looking for potential adopters in South Florida who are experienced pet owners and are willing to provide a home for one or two more animals. All adopters must fill out the proper application form before they receive surrendered animals.

“This isn’t a free pet giveaway,” Tinnell said. “We’re looking for adopters with knowledge and expertise in caring for exotic pets; it’s not for people who have always wanted a pet and think this is an opportunity to try their hand at owning one they don’t have to purchase.”

Pet Amnesty Day will be held Feb. 6 at the Miami MetroZoo. It’s free and open to the public. Exotic animals can be surrendered to the FWC free of charge with no questions asked and no penalties.

“We will not penalize any pet owners who choose the responsible option of not releasing their nonnative pets into the wild,” Tinnell said. “This is about curbing our ongoing problem of exotic fish and wildlife.”

A veterinarian will examine each animal, and every attempt will be made to place all healthy animals with qualified adopters.  Pet Amnesty Day is also a family event. There will be live animals on display, live animal shows and fun activities. Experts will be on hand to talk about proper care of exotic pets, so people who are thinking about purchasing one can learn from credible sources before they buy. This is a chance for people to not only see exotic animals, but get up close and even touch them.

Nonnative pet amnesty events help increase awareness of nonnative species problems. More than 400 nonnative species have been observed in Florida, and more than 130 have reproducing populations.

For more information on nonnative species in Florida, or to download an adoption application, visit www.MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.

Adopters must have knowledge of natural history and caging requirements and have proper facilities for the animals they are interested in adopting.  There is no fee for being an adopter.



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