Ontario Reptile Rescue is a volunteer-run charitable organization focused on caring for neglected and/or unwanted reptiles. Their goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome various kinds of reptiles, including (but not limited to!) iguanas, snakes, tortoises, African bullfrogs and so on. We spoke with Morgan Campbell, Founder of Ontario Reptile Rescue to learn more about them!
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Ontario Reptile Rescue is a foster-based reptile rescue servicing Ontario. We are completely volunteer run with all donations going towards the care of unwanted and neglected reptiles. We rescue and rehabilitate reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids. We rehome healthy animals and those with medical or behavioural problems remain in our long-term care.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Unfortunately, there are few places to bring reptiles when you are no longer able to keep them; Humane Societies often reach out to us because they are not equipped to deal with reptiles and their very specific care requirements. In 2021 we helped 110+ animals, and we are on track to help nearly triple that number in 2022.
When did you start/join it?
I began unofficially rescuing reptiles in 2015 on a casual basis whenever I had extra space in my home. However, at the start of the pandemic, the demand became overwhelming quite quickly so I founded ORR to tackle the problem. We became a registered charity in January of 2021 and have been growing steadily ever since.
What made you want to get involved?
I was fortunate enough to be exposed to reptiles from a young age and grew up with a deep respect for nature and all wildlife. I enjoy learning about their individual personalities, observing their behaviours, and teaching others about them. I’ve volunteered at animal rescues, shelters, and sanctuaries my entire life which gave me a solid foundation to build ORR.
What was the situation like when you started?
When we started in November 2020 we were overwhelmed with surrender requests despite being a new name in the business. Within our first 6 months in operation, we had nearly 300 animals on our waiting list and an average of 50 animals in our care at any given time. As of August 2022, we have helped nearly 250 animals, including reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids. We receive an average of 12 surrender requests weekly, and the demand only continues to grow.
How has it changed since?
Adoptions have plummeted since lockdowns have ended, and surrenders are far more common now that people are returning to school and work. The most common reason for surrender is that they are not able to afford the vet bills or keep up with the cost of proper care. With the rising cost of living, people are having to make the tough decision to rehome their scaly friends that they can no longer afford to care for.
What more needs to be done?
We rely heavily on public donations and struggle daily to stay afloat. There are only a few charitable organizations in Ontario that focus on reptiles and we are overwhelmed with limited resources. We would love to open a large facility to the public and have a sanctuary for our long-term guests, as well as an education center.
How can our readers help?
If you are considering adding a reptile to your life, check out local rescues first for those needing to be adopted. Word of mouth goes far, we really appreciated when people spread our mission with others and encourage their friends to adopt. We are always in need of donations to cover medical expenses. Donations can be made via PayPal or e-transfers (email@example.com). We are always looking for volunteers to foster animals, host fundraising initiatives, or assist us at events. We are looking for an affordable rental property to open a facility for the public to visit.
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes, we have a few adoption events coming up. You can view our event calendar on our website.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?
Little RESQ is a fantastic organization that specializes in the often-abandoned red-eared slider.