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Stretch the turtle is home for the holidays

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Displaced reptile finds a home fast with local family, thanks to Jeffco animal shelter, Sheriff's Office

By Deanna Hirsch

Christmas came early this year for one small turtle with a huge personality. 

The reptile, affectionately named Stretch by a Jeffco sheriff's officer, was discovered along with his feline cousin, Homer, when deputies responded to a call regarding a deceased person in a home. 

Jeffco animal control officer Chana Guy also was dispatched to assist on the call, which came during the Dec. 15 snowstorm that closed most local schools. 

“Oh, yes, it’s never a dull moment,” Guy said.

Guy, who’s been with animal control since 1991, said the majority of turtles tend to retreat into their shells when picked up. Yet this personable pet appeared very social and stretched way out of his comfort zone, hence the nickname. Guy attributed Stretch’s personality to the loving care he received from his original owner. 

“When we entered the residence, Stretch had an astronomical set-up for a turtle,” Guy said. 

Due to the weather, the officers transported the animals with them in their vehicle's interior. Guy marveled at how social Stretch was, noting that he even peered out at the dashboard computer. 

Stretch and Homer were taken to Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden. While Homer went to stay with a family member of the person who had died, Stretch stayed behind, since taking care of a turtle is a bit more challenging — even one as cute as Stretch. 

But thanks to the power of pictures and social media posts by the Sheriff’s Office, Stretch was scooped up straight away. 

Foothills Animal Shelter spokeswoman Jesse Burns said normally there is a 10-day hold on adoptions, but since the shelter had the family’s consent, things were expedited for Stretch. A local family responded to the sheriff’s Dec. 21 Facebook post and adopted Stretch, a second turtle and two guinea pigs. 

Stretch’s new family could not yet be reached for comment. 

For Guy, rescuing animals, even those without Stretch’s charm, is more than just a job — it’s a calling. 

“They’re all cute in their own special way,” Guy said. “My husband says, ‘You love 'em all.’ ”

Guy can’t argue with that; she and all her co-workers adore animals. Guy did concede that chickens and Canada geese are a bit intimidating for her. But what really bothers her are irresponsible animal owners. 

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Stretch. 

“At Christmas, the owner would put a red bow on the turtle’s back and take him around to the neighbors,” Guy said. “He was loved.”