Weird and wild collide at exotic animal rescue and pet store in Sharpsburg

A businesswoman from O’Hara is on a mission to obtain new residences for deserted and surrendered exotic animals.

Sara Smith owns Sara’s Pets and Plants, situated at 908 Primary St. in Sharpsburg.

Smith tends to much more than 100 animals at her store, all of them rescued or surrendered animals.

But she’s turning away animals that have to have assist because her shelter is complete.

“We’re all exceptionally overwhelmed bodily, mentally and economically and Sara’s Pets is no exception,” Smith claimed. “I do not have the house for them.”

Smith, 27, grew up surrounded by animals, vegetation, animals and put in plenty of several hours within local pet suppliers.

“As a child you could generally discover me in the yard, woods or backyard interacting with crops and animals,” Smith explained.

Her shop homes a myriad of animals that incorporates an alligator, spiders, snakes, reptiles, bunnies, bearded dragons, and a extremely friendly hen named Princess Peach.

Smith sells pet goods for cats and pet dogs and stay and frozen food stuff for unique pets.

A graduate of Fox Chapel Space Substantial College, Smith gained a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn Point out University.

She to start with opened Sara’s in Squirrel Hill in 2018 and relocated to Sharpsburg in 2020.

A single of the several unique pet rescues in the Pittsburgh region, Smith said she wishes the public would take into account all of the responsibilities and responsibilities that appear with pet ownership.

“There are so a lot of pet entrepreneurs who invest in a pet and quite swiftly comprehend that they’re not outfitted to just take treatment of it. That puts lots of animals at threat for abuse and/or neglect,” Smith explained.

Just take Mildred, a juvenile American alligator.

Mildred was saved by Smith right after she fielded a frantic contact from a mom of a 14-calendar year-previous boy who seemingly experienced a magic formula.

“He was hiding the alligator in his room for months, and she located it below a pile of clothes,” Smith explained.

Smith mentioned the teenager obtained the alligator from a reptile display devoid of his parents’ permission.

Mildred will stay at Sara’s right until she is previous enough to be placed in a lawful and correct facility.

For now, Mildred is used for academic purposes.

The city of Pittsburgh placed a ban on possessing alligators final 12 months.

Stacy Hogan of O’Hara utilized to be afraid of snakes.

But Substantial Marge, a 10-foot-prolonged purple tailed boa that lives at Sara’s was instrumental in encouraging Hogan get around her panic of snakes.

Hogan explained Big Marge was out of her cage when she first frequented Sara’s.

“Sara helped me to get me about my dread of that. I enjoy this put,” Hogan stated.

Hogan has since adopted a hamster named Peanut.

“He’s my little important, and we engage in on the ground every day.

Smith stated most of the animals below her treatment are difficult to place in new residences. Causes incorporate the species needing specialized care and demanding an skilled proprietor.

Smith’s animal treatment resume involves studying wildlife conservation, biology and ecology in Tanzania and a stint as biologist in a rain forest bio dome in Dubai.

Her animal inventory includes hamsters, finches, snakes, parakeets, bunnies, gerbils, rats, pigs, parrots, turtles, guinea pigs, cats and of course, Mildred.

Sara’s unofficial hen concierge is a spunky hen named Princess Peach.

Princess Peach enjoys to strut about the keep and check out with prospects.

“She was receiving conquer up by the other chickens, and she likes individuals superior than chickens. She interacts with individuals and definitely enjoys the notice,” Smith mentioned.

Smith gives educational classes to colleges, men and women, teams, birthday parties and fundraisers.

She formed a nonprofit to help with the expenditure of keeping her menagerie of critters.

The simplest unique animals to place in properties are bearded dragons and guinea pigs, Smith reported.

“However, we are usually overwhelmed by guinea pigs and bearded dragons because they are acquired for youngsters as an ‘easy pet,’ ” Smith reported. “The little ones often turn out to be uninterested, and the animals close up being surrendered.”

Lemony Snickets, a 10-12 months-aged leopard gecko, was surrendered by her household immediately after the little ones grew up and shed curiosity in her.

“She’s browsing for another person who will give her all the appreciate and consideration for the relaxation of her days,” Smith claimed.

Clients can e-book personalized 30-minute “Petting Zoo Days” classes for $15 for every man or woman in which members interact, pet and understand about distinctive animals.

“Petting Zoo Days” will be available Monday-Thursday throughout April.

Appointment periods are scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

To reserve a “Petting Zoo Days” session, function, celebration or to adopt simply call 724-826-8520.

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Assessment workers writer. You can call Joyce at 724-226-7725 , [email protected] or by way of Twitter .