Derry reptile rescue organisation looking for a home
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ReptiRescue NI is run by Dennis Dunn from his home in Derry but they now need their own premises to cope with the rising number of unwanted pets.
Dennis is an animal lover who volunteers with St Columb’s Animal Rescue & Rehoming (SCARR) and says there’s an ‘abundance’ of people in Derry who keep reptiles.
Dennis said: “I’ve been into all sorts of animals since I was 12, when I got my first fish tank. Since then, I’ve worked in boarding kennels, I’m trained as a dog handler and I was working with dangerous dogs. I got my first snake when I was 15 and by the age of 20, I must have had 40 reptiles. I took a break from them then to do a bit of travelling. I moved to Derry in 2012 and settled down and then I started working in Pets at Home. I noticed that there was more and more people coming in with unwanted reptiles but we didn’t take them at the time so ReptiRescue came along then to take in these unwanted reptiles.
"We were going strong but then life got in the way and we had a baby coming but we’re looking for premises now to get the organisation back up and running. I’m totally self-funded and don’t rely on outside funding but I’m running it from the house and with the cost of living going up, it’s hard to maintain it now.
“I think some people are struggling with the cost of keeping their reptiles, too, because of the cost. It would cost around £10 a week to feed a reptile and the older they get, the more they eat. There’s a lot of people giving up their animal right now, some were lockdown pets and others just can’t afford it. In the last two weeks, I’ve had around 50 phone-calls of people wanting to surrender their reptiles. I’ve taken in around 20 of those animals and I’ve managed to ring up other rescues, who I know and trust, and get them to help as well as calling people I’ve adopted out to to ask if they were interested in fostering an animal.”
Dennis has set up a TikTok page to educate people on how to look after their reptiles and help people see their loving side. To continue this work, however, he needs somewhere to keep the animals coming into his care. He is hoping that someone will help him help Derry reptiles by giving him a space to house them.
"If someone had an old shop or storage container that was laying empty, I’m willing to do all the work to get it up to standard and build everything I need for the reptile enclosures,” Dennis said. “Any work needs done to the shop, I’m more than happy to do that too so it doesn’t have to be perfect. I can pay rent after the first six months and hopefully that will help me get up on my feet.”To offer Dennis a space or to find out more about the organisation, search ReptiRescue NI on Facebook.