An umbrella cockatoo named Sugar raises the feathers on his snow-white head and gives out a squawk as if saying hello. His fellow bird friend, Greenbean, a Red Lord Amazon, coos back as if responding. The third friend of the trio is Hawkeye, a Sussex Cross rooster. The three seem to be running security, making rounds at Out of the Cage Pet Shop and acting like they own the place.
Also in the store, more birds chirp away in their cages and a solid black rabbit named Midnight sits as still as a statue while being petted.
These are just a few of the animals who are being taught to jump through a hoop, along with prairie dogs, opossum, chinchillas and all kinds of water-bound creatures.
Unfortunately, the shop, which is truly an animal menagerie, is scraping to get by financially, said Amanda Vaughn, co-owner of the shop with her husband, Mike.
“I have not paid myself since July. If we did not have my husband’s income, we could not make it,” she said.
Mike Vaughn is medically retired from the Army.
The couple bought the store in July 2012. They had a grand re-opening in January 2013 hoping for a boost in business. The store relies on donations from other animal advocates and recently received a fish tank, animal food and some financial assistance.
Amanda Vaughn has a passion for animals, especially exotic ones, and is committed to providing quality care and good loving homes for them. When the Army sent Mike Vaughn to Fort Drum, N.Y., for a military relocation, Amanda Vaughn stayed behind to keep the store.
Mike Vaughn said the couple has no regrets over purchasing the former Fins and Flowers location.
“We’ve been adopting animals at our house for six years. It was easier just to buy her a store,” he said.
School groups visit the store to learn about the animals, including a special section on reproduction where the store breeds mice, rats and cockatiels.
The store also works with an organization that uses the facility to train dogs for use by wounded warriors.
The Vaughns vow to continue their work with the community as long as possible as they live out their passion — taking care of animals.
Out of the Cage Pet Shop, 113 E. Avenue E, Copperas Cove.