It’s not every day that you come home to a house filled with dogs, cats, fish, birds, bunnies and bearded dragons, but for 19-year-old Glen Rose resident Brooke Spence it is.
Spence runs a rescue for exotic animals along with several other fosters and together, they are caring for about 50 animals.
“I have always had a passion for animals,” she said. “When I was a little kid, I was really into reptiles. I had a couple of lizards and a couple of frogs, but as I got older and I was a junior in high school, I realized that I was able to take in animals if I wanted so I started off with some fish. My senior year, I took in a rabbit and that was my first personal rescue. His name was Roswell.”
Spence continued to rescue birds and fish but one day, she noticed an ad on Craiglist that was asking for someone to take care of four bearded dragons that needed immediate help.
She started a Facebook group called Operation Beardie Rescue where Spence and three other friends took in the bearded dragons, fostered and rehomed them.
Since the start of the Facebook group in September, 13 bearded dragons have come in and out of fosters and Spence has helped rehome over 20.
Spence said there are several individuals who are waiting to foster bearded dragons but she has to make sure they are able to take care of the animals.
“Most people just put them in a tank with sand and a heat lamp and think it’s okay but it’s really not,” she said. “They have so many special needs that have to be met. They have to have special lighting, special temperatures and a special diet; it’s complicated. In order to be a foster, they have to prove that they have the proper set up already and that they can pay for vet bills if they need to.”
Spence also takes in dogs, cats, fish, birds, bunnies, snakes, iguanas and tortoises.
Although owning an exotic pet can seem fun, Spence warns individuals to do their research before adopting one.
“The biggest piece of advice that I give is, ‘You probably don’t want one,’” she said, with a laugh. “It’s so labor intensive and I see so many bearded dragons that are neglected. They sit on a shelf and they’re not fed properly and it breaks my heart because these are some of the most common animals in the pet trade and people still don’t know how to properly take care of them.”
Spence is also seeking donations like small animal supplies, reptile supplies, fish supplies, fish tanks, large plastic tubs, clamp lamps and industrial shelving.
To learn more about fostering or adopting a bearded dragon, visit the Facebook group Operation Beardie Rescue. For information about other exotic pets, call Spence at 281-224-1820 or visit her Instagram page @brookexotics to view all of her pets and rescues.