When we were living in Omaha, Nebraska, I took a part-time job at a local pet shop for a few months. There weren’t a lot of pets, but there were dogs, parrots, parakeets, chinchilla rabbits, reptiles, fishes and 1 big, ugly, Asian spider. My main job was to keep the aquariums clean and ring up merchandise.
My son dropped me off at the pet store one morning and came in with me for a minute. I went through the store checking on the critters and all was fine except for one chameleon. I noticed that his long tongue was extended and stuck to one of the rocks inside his cage. He was just sitting there, unable to move. It was awful. I didn’t know what to do. Panicked, I called to my son and asked him what we should do. He didn’t know either. I reached inside the cage and tried to remove the chameleon’s tongue from the rock. It was seriously stuck. All I could do was wait for LuAnn to come in and call the Vet.
LuAnn came in a few hours later, and me, Jeannie, Donna, LuAnn and my son, stood around looking into the cage wondering what to do. We called the Vet. The Vet said there was nothing we could do. Donna wanted to kill it, to be kind to the poor thing, but we didn’t know how to do that. After talking it over, we came to no conclusions.
I went about my duties, waited on customers, vacuumed the fish tanks and cleaned up. I kept checking on the chameleon who continued to sit in his cage with his tongue stuck to the rock. Later in the morning, I noticed that the chameleon was gone. I asked LuAnn what had happened to him. She said not to worry about it. I didn’t badger her.
There was a break room in back where we kept supplies and had a small table and a full size refrigerator with a freezer. I was ringing up a customer when I heard Donna scream. When I was done with my customer, I ran back to the break room and she was holding the freezer door open. Inside the freezer, I saw the chameleon just sitting there. I don’t know if he was dead from hypothermia but he wasn’t moving. LuAnn had severed his tongue from the rock somehow and stuck him in the freezer to die.
At first, I was appalled that the reptile was in the freezer but the reality was, when the chameleon got his tongue stuck on that rock, he was as good as dead. We didn’t know how to kill him gently so LuAnn did the only humane thing she knew to do. She put him in the freezer. I thought it was a very creative approach to the problem. This is the sort of thing you encounter when you work in a pet store. It’s never easy when you deal with life.