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When this Conception Bay South family says their home is a zoo, they really mean it

Ireland Shea gives Vince a big hug.
Ireland Shea gives Vince a big hug. — Contributed

The Sheas share space with a unique variety of pets; there's the dog and cats you might expect, but there's also a gecko, a chameleon and a litter-trained ferret

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. —

When it comes to family pets, the Sheas of Conception Bay South have almost enough to start their own pet store. There’s Roxy the chameleon, Mikey the gecko and Sam the ferret. Angela and Paul Shea’s cats are Bob and Charlie. Their bullmastiff’s name is Vince.

The Sheas also have two saltwater tanks – a 32-gallon and a 150-gallon – which are home to tangs, clownfish and several other species of tropical fish.

Angela is from Grand Falls-Windsor. Paul was born in St. John’s. The couple have a seven-year-old daughter, Ireland.


Seven-year-old Ireland Shea and her mother Angela Shea with the family’s pet ferret, Sam. CONTRIBUTED - Contributed
Seven-year-old Ireland Shea and her mother Angela Shea with the family’s pet ferret, Sam. CONTRIBUTED - Contributed

Angela’s love of animals dates back to her childhood. She had cats and dogs and a turtle named Zig.

“I had Zig for 22 years. My parents took care of him while I lived in Alberta. When I got back to Newfoundland they gave him back to me. He died about four years ago,” Angela said during a phone interview.

Ireland is also an animal lover, Angela said. Sam, the ferret, is likely her daughter’s favourite pet.

“She takes the ferret for a little walk up and down the street. He’s on a harness (and leash).”

Sam lives in a four-level cage similar to those found in pet stores. The ferret is litter-trained and enjoys climbing in his cage.

Sam shares a room with Mikey and Roxy.


Roxy is a chameleon. - Contributed
Roxy is a chameleon. - Contributed

Although she’s yet to mark her eighth birthday, Ireland is already a responsible pet owner.

“She puts her rubber gloves on and she cleans out the ferret’s cage,” her mother said.

Sam, who is almost two years old, is a playful ferret, Angela said.

“If you take a small blanket . . . and put it up in the air and then flick it on top of him he gets really excited and starts hopping around,” she said.

The family’s gecko is about seven years old. Their chameleon is five.

Mikey, the gecko, lives in a terrarium and Roxy, the chameleon, is in a big stand-up cage with vines and trees. They both eat cornworms and crickets.

“Mikey is getting older now, but Roxy gets excited to see you. You open his (cage) door and, as soon as you speak, he’s climbing out. He goes around the floor, which is unusual because they normally wrap around trees and vines,” Angela said.


Mikey is a gecko. - Contributed
Mikey is a gecko. - Contributed

Road trip back home

The Sheas lived in Alberta for six years before moving back to their home province 10 years ago. They made the cross-country drive with their three large breed dogs: two Bullmastiffs, Kane and Gracie; and a Golden Retriever named Hunter.

The trip was well planned in advance, Angela said.

They knew places they could stay overnight that welcomed dogs.

Once settled back home, the Sheas quickly became well known in their new neighbourhood as they were often seen walking their three dogs.

Like all of their pets, the dogs brought much joy to their lives for many years.


One of the family’s saltwater aquariums. - Contributed
One of the family’s saltwater aquariums. - Contributed

“Kane passed away four years ago, Hunter passed away three years ago and Gracie passed away this summer. They all lived for 10-14 years,” Angela said.

The Shea family treats all their pets with respect and realizes the time does come to say goodbye.

Ireland has witnessed many animals pass away, Angela said, but she understands there is a time to let them go.

However, she said, the COVID-19 pandemic made saying goodbye to Gracie that much more difficult.

“I had to go with her all by myself . . . we have never let any of the pets pass away by themselves. That’s just not right.”

The Sheas added Vince, the bullmastiff, to their family about two years ago when they had him flown in from a breeder in Alberta.

“(Our pets) are all part of our family. We love them all,” Angela said.

danette@nl.rogers.com


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