The Don’t Let it Loose banner on the VA Reptile Rescue, Inc’s website may be the first indicator that this is a different sort of rescue. Bonnie Keller began VARR in 1999 to act as a rescue organization for reptiles and amphibians that have been injured, neglected, mistreated or are otherwise unwanted, along with a strong educational focus. And many years later you can see that she and her family are still firmly dedicated to the cause.
Because many of these animals are not widely kept as pets, never mind understood in general, she knows that teaching is the key to change. This is done in various ways such as the video showing the effects of improper care of turtles and tortoises. She has also devoted her time to reptile education parties for those who are interested in teaching young people about snakes and other reptiles.The non-dangerous type of course, as her site promises. Care sheets and articles are also provided, and a great resource to pass on.
For people who do enjoy non-furry friends and want to adopt there are several species ready and waiting for good homes. Adoption policies are slightly different than with other species, and minors are not allowed to adopt. Those who do are reminded that breeding is not allowed for most animals through VARR.
Ways to get involved include the Virginia Box Turtle Reporting which compiles helpful information in order to help their species, and the Virginia Herp Society for anyone who may have found or seen something and want to find out what it may be. Just make sure it isn’t poisonous before you handle it!
As with any rescue, donations are crucial to making sure the VARR animals are well taken care of. For reptile enthusiasts who wish to share their passion over a cup of coffee, or while cooking, this may be a fun way to support the rescue and remind others that scaly and slow moving creatures need love too.
Bonnie’s caring nature seems to not only show in her teaching and for her students, but for the animals that many people run screaming from. Perhaps through her work a little tolerance and love for them will prevail.