Community News

Rex found love with Lorelei

Tara, our Director of Operations at our Marathon Campus, recounts a great adoption love story:

My niece came to visit me. She’s 7 years old and shares my love for animals. The highlight of her trip to the Florida Keys is always visiting the shelter. Her eyes open wide the second she walks in the door. Her high pitched voice goes an octave higher as she squeals with delight at every animal she sees. Her go to phrase is always “it’s ssooooooo cute!” No matter what animals we have, dogs,  cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, even snakes, everything is “ssooooo cute.”

Each time she visits she always begs her mother to let her take something home. With a dog and two cats of her own the answer is resoundingly no. She tries her best to sway her mother with promises of taking on the responsibility of caring for her next adopted animal, swearing to do more chores around the house, and the always popular commitment to better grades and completing homework on time (and without complaint.) Yet, after a fun-filled afternoon giving every single cat a treat, petting and holding every small animal and offering to walk every dog, she leaves empty handed. 

On her most recent trip, expecting the same scenario as each visit past, her eyes grew wide as she entered the shelter and squealed in delight. The first few minutes are filled with the excitement that only a child can express. She bounced from animal to animal, cat to kitten to guinea pig proclaiming that each one was cuter than the last. I can never hold back my own laughs and excitement, her energy is always contagious. 

As she moved across the entry her eyes locked in on clear plastic bins we converted to hamster habitats. Inside each bin held a solitary Syrian hamster, separated because this particular dwarf species will fight with one another as adults. She desperately wanted to hold a hamster, and of course I obliged. The second that furry little creature landed in her hands she was smitten. He was, of course, “ssooooo cute” and her bond with our shelter hamster was instant, she was in love!

That evening she pitched her best pitch to her father on the phone. She researched hamsters, their habitat, their diets, their lifespan. She called me more than once to ask well thought out questions, even quizzing me on some of the hamster facts she had just learned. 

When it came time for my niece to take the road trip home, I expected the same ending as our encounters before. Hugs and kisses goodbye, promises to come back and asks if she could visit the shelter again. To my surprise, she arrived at the shelter to proudly declare that she was adopting Rex. I laughed, which clearly irked her as she adamantly explained that Rex the hamster was coming home with her. Unbeknownst to me, they had agreed to let my niece adopt a hamster. They had already ordered all the supplies they would need the evening prior, set to arrive before they got home. With a two story habitat in transit, bedding, an exercise wheel, and even a play pen for the palm sized hamster, my niece finally got to adopt a new companion from our shelter. 

Children can be devoted and responsible pet owners too. Through all her research she went above and beyond in choosing the proper housing for Rex to reside in. She calls me regularly to tell me about what Rex is doing and even the one time he “bitted” her. She loves her hamster, and I couldn’t be a prouder Aunt. Our Campuses in Key West and Marathon service more than 2,000 animals annually and we often have many more companion animals that cats and dogs. If you’re thinking of bringing home a small animal, reptile, bird or exotic pet into your home and heart, please be sure to check our shelters first. Visit us at to learn more about our small and furry friends that are looking for someone like you.