By:Cheryl Berger

The first time I met Danielle was when she taught me the basic care and feeding for our two darling ferrets, Chloe and Chance.  Or it might have been caring for our ball python, box turtle, guinea pig or bearded dragon. Regardless, she has always been our source for the correct care and keeping of “The Other Pets”, the atypical ones, not the common cat or dog.

I’ve always been impressed with her knowledge of such a wide variety of creatures.  I’ve seen her handle critters I mostly see behind glass. Her background is extensive. Besides working at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Avian and Exotics for 14 years, she was a constant feature on National Geographic’s Animal ER.  If anyone can handle that kind of pressure, it’s Danielle. 

Now, Danielle feels the pressure of wanting to help guide owners to care for their non-traditional pet. “These days, non-traditional pets’ makeup around 50% of the pets in American households. Too often these animals are already at a disadvantage before they even make it into our homes”.  The process of traveling, temporary housing, cramped conditions can take a toll on an animal.  Danielle helps educate a pet owner to “create the ideal environment that promotes a long healthy life, both physically and psychologically”.  

Sometimes that can entail proper heating, lighting, diet, basically all portions of proper husbandry and home care.  When proper measures are taken, it affects the quality of life and the animal’s survival rate.  For example, without the correct UVB radiation from heat lamps, bearded dragons can suffer brittle bones, tremors and even heart failure.  And rabbits are dependent on the proper hay to whittle down their teeth, which never stop growing. They are dependent on fiber to keep their teeth at the optimum size and strength. 

Danielle puts a plan of action in place that is simplified and sustainable.  It must be “an actionable way you can understand. Misinformation is rampant”. She not only educates clients, but veterinary clinics as well.  “Our aim is to save lives by filling the knowledge gap and empowering both pet owners and veterinarians to change the statistics and break the cycle, allowing these animals to not only survive, but to thrive”.

Danielle’s plan starts with choosing the appropriate pet for your lifestyle.  Perhaps a client wants a pet that is awake and active during the day with a food source that is easily obtainable, a sugar glider, which is nocturnal animal and eats insects and exotic fruits, may not be the appropriate pet. 

When the appropriate pet is chosen and it’s time to find your new best friend, Danielle provides recommendations through adoption and responsible breeders.  That’s how we found our Chance and Chloe, they were both adopted from the SPCA.  We gave them the optimum environment and they gave us years of love and companionship.  Danielle helped us make an informed decision and set up a favorable habitat and we were more than ready to welcome our new family member into their forever home.