Everyone needs saving sometimes, even turtles.
Dennis Oliver, aka designated turtle savior, has been rescuing these shelled reptiles from all over St. John’s and taking care of them in the sanctuary he built in his basement.
The project Turtle Rest and Retirement Villa that Oliver created comes with several tanks and a large indoor pond that he built himself, which is also equipped with hoses and filtration system that puts some pet stores to shame.
This journey began when Oliver put up a post on Kijiji (Canada’s Craigslist) looking for a free turtle to own. He said the phone never stopped ringing, and that's when the project was born.
"Nobody was doing this, saving the turtles,” Oliver told CBC News in an interview.
“We have the herpetological society, but like a lot of smaller animal rescues, they are struggling."
As more people answered his ad and dropped their turtles off at his apartment, Oliver decided it was time to build an artificial pond with sand for the reptiles to lay eggs in and an area with grass for them to relax.
He currently has three different species of turtles, one of which is illegal in Newfoundland and Labrador, but Oliver holds a special permit to keep the breed in his refuge.
Oliver realizes that most people who decide to get a pet turtle don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, and that there’s a problematic misconception that turtles can survive in streams and oceans (thanks a lot, Finding Nemo).
His plan is to eventually move into a commercial space where he can treat the villa as a proper rescue, but for now, Oliver is glad to just offer his babies a happy “retirement” home.
"I love them, they are fantastic creatures," he said. "But please, don't dump your turtles in the pond, don't dump them in the streams, don't use them for hockey pucks. Give us a phone call. If you really don't want the turtle we will take it from you."
Basically, what Master Splinter is to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Oliver is to Lumpy, Cesar, Big Mama, and his other babies.