Erie Pet Amnesty Event
Q&A with Erie Humane Society, the Herps Alive Foundation, and Pennsylvania Sea Grant

Q: What is the Erie Pet Amnesty Event?
A: The Erie Pet Amnesty event will provide a safe, convenient, and humane alternative for pet owners to surrender unwanted aquatic pets including fish, turtles, amphibians, and invertebrates, so that release into the environment is never considered. The purpose of the event is to give pet owners the opportunity to surrender aquarium pets rather than releasing them into the wild, and to encourage the connection between responsible pet ownership and environmental stewardship.

Q: When and where is the event?
A: Saturday, May 1, 2021, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the Erie Humane Society, 2407 Zimmerly Road, Erie, PA 16506

Nicole Leone, Director, Erie Humane Society
Watch Nicole and her Red-eared slider partner, Sparky via Facebook Live 

Q: Can you tell us about the event?
A: The Erie Humane Society (EHS) is partnering with the Herps Alive Foundation and Pennsylvania Sea Grant to help educate the community about the importance of being a responsible pet owner – whether that’s a dog, cat, fish, turtle, or something else. We want our community members to know that if they are unable to care for their aquatic pet, such as a Red-eared slider, they should not be releasing them into our environment, like Presque Isle, where it does more harm to the environment. They can instead bring the pet to the EHS on Saturday, May 1, from 11:00 to 3:00. Th
eir aquatic pets will be signed over to Herps Alive, and then placed up for adoption. We will also be hosting a Forever Yours pet adoption day, for people who come to the Erie Humane Society looking to adopt a dog or cat, at a discounted adoption fee once an adoption application has been approved.

Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader, Pennsylvania Sea Grant

Q: How will the event benefit the Lake Erie watershed and native species?
A: When aquatic species such as turtles, fish, and aquatic invertebrates grow too big for aquariums, or are no longer wanted, they are often released into nearby waterways, lakes, or ponds where they can quickly establish and become invasive to the native species already living in those waterbodies. These invasive species threaten native species and local ecosystems by directly competing for food, nesting sites, and basking areas. By providing pet owners with an alternative to release, we are protecting our ecosystems from the damaging impacts of invasive species.

Q: How will the event benefit aquarium pets and their owners?
A: Choosing to surrender a pet is a safe and responsible way to ensure that aquarium pets find new homes while preventing them from being released into the wild. Pet owners are encouraged to register for the event at

Q:  Will this event be offered again? Will the effort expand to other areas of PA?
A: Depending on the interest and success of this event, we hope to offer annual or semi-annual pet amnesty events to provide a consistent and trusted venue for residents to surrender pets they can no longer care for. We are currently working with other environmental organizations and herpetological societies to set up additional amnesty events throughout the state.

Keith Gisser, Director, Herps Alive Foundation

Q: Can I adopt a surrendered aquarium pet at the event?
All surrendered pets will undergo a veterinary analysis and quarantine period before being adopted. Those that are not able to be adopted out will live at the Herps Alive Foundation sanctuary.

Q: Can you tell me more about the Herps Alive Foundation?
The Herps Alive Foundation is a volunteer organization that accepts fish, reptiles, invertebrates, and amphibians. We are a no-kill shelter that adopts out surrendered pets or provides a safe home for them at our shelter in South Euclid, Ohio, not far from Erie, PA.

The Herps Alive Foundation is set up similarly to the Humane Society, housing pets at our facility which is open five days week. We do have foster families and volunteers, but adoptable pets are mostly kept at the facility until adopted. We look to re-home but otherwise, pets can live at our facility.

Q: What are some of the most commonly surrendered pets?
Red-eared sliders, Bearded dragons, Yellow-bellied sliders, and Geckos. Fish species include Oscars, Jack Dempsey, Koi, Mollies, and Guppies. Non-native venomous species may be surrendered but will be transferred to another caretaker with appropriate permits and experience for care. 


Learn more about our partners and support their efforts -, @Eriehumanesociety, @Herpsalive



Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011