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2131312 2038-01-18 05:00:00.0 UTC 2038-01-18T00:00:00.000-05:00 2013-07-13 22:31:46.0 UTC 2013-07-13T18:31:46.000-04:00 pet-owners-bid-their-exotic-pets-farewell published 2013-07-14 01:20:37.0 UTC 2013-07-13T21:20:37.000-04:00 news/humaninterest DTI 109281102 ST. PETERSBURG — Her light blue eyes cast with disappointment, the little blond girl moseyed down the rain-soaked path next to her father. She wore a white T-shirt, red shorts, fading pink Crocs and, as a slithering sash, a 6-foot red-tailed boa constrictor named Marley. Its roommate, Ziggy, also about 6 feet long, was draped on the girl's father. On a gloomy Saturday morning, Michael Keen and his daughter, Jennifer, had come to bid their reptilian friends farewell at Pinellas County's first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day. The events, held statewide, give people who can't care for their animals a chance to give them up rather than set them loose or have them killed. "All these animals will find new homes by the end of the day," said event organizer Brian Pavlina, noting that the prospective adopters had been prescreened. For four hours, people pulled their cars into Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, past a sign that read "NO PETS," and unloaded ball pythons, boa constrictors, red-eared slider turtles, a ferret and a pygmy possum, among others. The creatures came in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. By midday, Pavlina had a bloody nick on his nose courtesy of an interaction with a disgruntled green iguana named Fuzzy. Ziggy and Marley were, fittingly, given their namesake, much more mellow. Keen and Jennifer approached a pavilion and introduced the snakes to an official with the Florida Wildlife Commission. A dozen empty animal crates were piled on the grass nearby. "You guys will find a home for them?" Keen asked. The official explained that they would. Keen turned to his daughter, who is 10, and rested his hand on her head. "You okay?" he asked. With Marley now wrapped around her leg, she nodded. "Yeah," she said. The Keens were giving up the snakes because the family couldn't devote as much time to the animals as they used to. Father and daughter placed the pair in separate white bags, meant to keep them calm. "Bye, Marley," Jennifer said, running her hand over his scales. "Be good, dude," Keen added. Moments earlier, Travis Davis had arrived from Tampa with his conure, Ajax, a tropical bird with yellow flecks in its red coat. "I just can't take care of him," he explained to a volunteer. "My parents passed away a couple months ago." His voice trembled. "I just can't," he said. Eight years ago, he was volunteering at a sanctuary that was going to euthanize the bird so Davis offered to take it in, but its health has since declined. Sitting at a picnic table, Davis explained to a volunteer that Ajax seldom made noise anymore and had failing eyesight. He finished the paperwork and walked to the bird's cage. He took a deep breath and leaned down. "Be good, kid," he said. Not all there had come to relinquish animals. At least one man planned to take a few home. A long pony-tail curled from beneath his wide-brim gray hat. He leaned on a metal cane and wore a bushy gray beard, camouflage pants and a black T-shirt imprinted with snakes. He said he would take any animals not adopted by others. He refused to say his name or where he lived or how many pets he owned, but he did tell a veterinarian that his electric bill to maintain the collection was $800 a month. Others, like Heather Bryen and her daughter, Aeryal, who is 9, weren't there to drop off or pick up. Just observe and enjoy — at least according to Bryen. "Mom, I really want a snake," said Aeryal, a camera hanging from her neck. No, mom said. "Then, can I have a puppy?" Bryen ignored that one. "Can I have a lizard?" Nothing. "Can I have a really mean iguana?" Still nothing. "Can I have a really cute opossum?" Bryen's head snapped over. "Yeah," she said, "you're not taking the opossum home." John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com. By John Woodrow Cox, Times Staff Writer News, Human Interest_News, Breaking-news, pinellas Pet owners bid their exotic pets farewell JCOXN Amnesty day targets species whose owners might be tempted to free them &#8212; or worse.<br /><br /> 4STB Main dhvns6epb07r dhvns Exotic pets catch a break Pinellas 1 exoticpet071413.4st Exotic pets catch a break 2013-07-14 04:00:00.0 UTC 2013-07-14T00:00:00.000-04:00 1 Michael Keen, 53, holds a red-tailed boa constrictor named Marley as his daughter Jennifer, 10, The St. Petersburg family gave up the snake, along with another named Ziggy, because they were getting ignored. /resources/images/dti/2013/07/b4s_exoticpets071413a_11125712.jpg LARA CERRI | Times&#65279; /resources/images/dti/rendered/2013/07/b4s_exoticpets071413a_11125712_4col.jpg/resources/images/dti/rendered/2013/07/b4s_exoticpets071413a_11125712_8col.jpg 2 A tiny red-eared slider that was turned in cranes its neck at Exotic Pet Amnesty Day at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve on Saturday. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission accepted exotic and illegal pets without penalty. /resources/images/dti/2013/07/b4s_exoticpets071413b_11125711.jpg LARA CERRI | Times&#65279; /resources/images/dti/rendered/2013/07/b4s_exoticpets071413b_11125711_4col.jpg/resources/images/dti/rendered/2013/07/b4s_exoticpets071413b_11125711_8col.jpg true templatedata/tampabaytimes/StaffArticle/data/2013/07/13/109281102-pet-owners-bid-their-exotic-pets-farewell StaffArticle 2013-07-13 22:31:46.0 UTC 2013-07-13T18:31:46.000-04:00 news,human interest_newsHuman Interest News ArticlesST. PETERSBURG — Her light blue eyes cast with disappointment, the little blond girl moseyed down the rain-soaked path next to her father. She wore a white T-shirt, red shorts, fading pink Crocs and, as a slithering sash, a 6-foot red-tailed boa constrictor named Marley.News, Human Interest_News, Breaking-news, pinellasNews, Human Interest_News, Breaking-news, pinellas<span style="display:none;" class="author vcard"><span class="fn">JOHN WOODROW COX</span></span><span style="display:none;" class="source-org vcard"><span class="org fn">Tampa Bay Times</span></span><a rel="item-license" href="/universal/user_agreement.shtml">&#169; 2016 Tampa Bay Times</a><br /><br />Times Staff Writer 2287995 2016-08-03 18:35:22.0 UTC 4 Weeks Ago hernando-pet-of-the-week-for-aug-5 news Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 5 StaffArticle 2291069 2016-08-26 14:12:27.0 UTC 3 Days Ago no-pets-staff-injured-following-fire-call-at-riverview-animal-hospital news/publicsafety/fire No pets or staff injured when smoke is reported at Riverview animal hospital StaffArticle 2290387 2016-08-21 01:07:33.0 UTC 1 Week Ago foundation-complicates-clintons-presidential-bid news/politics/national Foundation complicates Clinton's presidential bid StaffArticle <p>ST. PETERSBURG — Her light blue eyes cast with disappointment, the little blond girl moseyed down the rain-soaked path next to her father. She wore a white T-shirt, red shorts, fading pink Crocs and, as a slithering sash, a 6-foot red-tailed boa constrictor named Marley.</p> <p>Its roommate, Ziggy, also about 6 feet long, was draped on the girl's father.</p> <p>On a gloomy Saturday morning, Michael Keen and his daughter, Jennifer, had come to bid their reptilian friends farewell at Pinellas County's first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day. The events, held statewide, give people who can't care for their animals a chance to give them up rather than set them loose or have them killed.</p> <p>&quot;All these animals will find new homes by the end of the day,&quot; said event organizer Brian Pavlina, noting that the prospective adopters had been prescreened.</p> <p>For four hours, people pulled their cars into Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, past a sign that read &quot;NO PETS,&quot; and unloaded ball pythons, boa constrictors, red-eared slider turtles, a ferret and a pygmy possum, among others. The creatures came in all shapes, sizes and temperaments.</p> <p>By midday, Pavlina had a bloody nick on his nose courtesy of an interaction with a disgruntled green iguana named Fuzzy.</p> <p>Ziggy and Marley were, fittingly, given their namesake, much more mellow.</p> <p>Keen and Jennifer approached a pavilion and introduced the snakes to an official with the Florida Wildlife Commission. A dozen empty animal crates were piled on the grass nearby.</p> <p>&quot;You guys will find a home for them?&quot; Keen asked.</p> <p>The official explained that they would.</p> <p>Keen turned to his daughter, who is 10, and rested his hand on her head.</p> <p>&quot;You okay?&quot; he asked.</p> <p>With Marley now wrapped around her leg, she nodded.</p> <p>&quot;Yeah,&quot; she said.</p> <p>The Keens were giving up the snakes because the family couldn't devote as much time to the animals as they used to. Father and daughter placed the pair in separate white bags, meant to keep them calm.</p> <p>&quot;Bye, Marley,&quot; Jennifer said, running her hand over his scales.</p> <p>&quot;Be good, dude,&quot; Keen added. Moments earlier, Travis Davis had arrived from Tampa with his conure, Ajax, a tropical bird with yellow flecks in its red coat.</p> <p>&quot;I just can't take care of him,&quot; he explained to a volunteer. &quot;My parents passed away a couple months ago.&quot;</p> <p>His voice trembled.</p> <p>&quot;I just can't,&quot; he said.</p> <p>Eight years ago, he was volunteering at a sanctuary that was going to euthanize the bird so Davis offered to take it in, but its health has since declined.</p> <p>Sitting at a picnic table, Davis explained to a volunteer that Ajax seldom made noise anymore and had failing eyesight. He finished the paperwork and walked to the bird's cage. He took a deep breath and leaned down.</p> <p>&quot;Be good, kid,&quot; he said.</p> <p>Not all there had come to relinquish animals. At least one man planned to take a few home.</p> <p>A long pony-tail curled from beneath his wide-brim gray hat. He leaned on a metal cane and wore a bushy gray beard, camouflage pants and a black T-shirt imprinted with snakes. He said he would take any animals not adopted by others. He refused to say his name or where he lived or how many pets he owned, but he did tell a veterinarian that his electric bill to maintain the collection was $800 a month.</p> <p>Others, like Heather Bryen and her daughter, Aeryal, who is 9, weren't there to drop off or pick up. Just observe and enjoy — at least according to Bryen.</p> <p>&quot;Mom, I really want a snake,&quot; said Aeryal, a camera hanging from her neck.</p> <p>No, mom said.</p> <p>&quot;Then, can I have a puppy?&quot;</p> <p>Bryen ignored that one.</p> <p>&quot;Can I have a lizard?&quot;</p> <p>Nothing.</p> <p>&quot;Can I have a really mean iguana?&quot;</p> <p>Still nothing.</p> <p>&quot;Can I have a really cute opossum?&quot;</p> <p>Bryen's head snapped over.</p> <p>&quot;Yeah,&quot; she said, &quot;you're not taking the opossum home.&quot;</p> <p><i>John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com.</i></p>trueruntime2016-08-30 05:40:08