News & Features
Seven Central Florida rescue organizations making a difference for animals in our region
Published: February 6, 2013
Fallin' Pines Critter Rescue
FOUNDED: 1990; became a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2003
SPECIALIZES IN: Handicapped, displaced or unwanted exotics, as well as farm animals, birds, squirrels, rabbits, wallabies, wallaroos, ferrets, horses
ANIMALS ADOPTED OUT EACH YEAR: Hundreds. In a month's time, they take in about 150 animals. Last year alone, they took in 879 animals just from Orange County Animal Services.
ANIMALS UP FOR ADOPTION NOW? About 260
Florida may be known for its exotic wildlife, but it's not every day you come across wallabies here. But at Fallin' Pines Critter Rescue in Christmas, the Australian marsupials roam a four-acre spread.
If you want to adopt a puppy or a kitten, you've got your pick of the litter (ha!) when it comes to rescue organizations – but if you're thinking more along the lines of sugar gliders, boa constrictors or pot-bellied pigs, you need to find a place like this one, which specializes in unusual and exotic pets.
Not knowing how to care for these unique animals can be costly – more importantly, it can be distressing and dangerous for the animals. That's why Fallin' Pines encourages potential adoptive families to learn everything they can before adopting an oddball pet. And while Fallin' Pines will offer as much education as possible to potential adopters, they aren't shy about refusing to adopt to people who don't do their homework or understand the responsibilities of housing an exotic animal.
"Learn how to take care of it first before you adopt," says Fallin' Pines Critter Rescue founder and executive director Shirley Cannan who, along with three volunteers, takes care of hundreds of displaced
Before this organization came along in 1990, many owners who found themselves in over their heads with exotic pets didn't have anywhere to turn but wildlife refuges (Cannan used to volunteer at one). But when the refuges refused former pets, owners would just set them loose.
"Now people have an out," Cannan says. "So many animals get left at my gate, but I don't care. At least they're here, and they will be safe. They're not dumped along the road somewhere."
Fallin' Pines Critter Rescue takes in distressed animals from all over the world; while you won't be able to take a marsupial home, there are plenty of exotic birds, farm animals and reptiles to choose from. Just don't say we didn't warn you: When you speak to Cannan about adopting one of these unusual little (or big) critters, you better know what you're getting yourself into.
> Email Katherine Ramirez Massey