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MaxMan to the rescue

Looking to brighten Diana Sleiertin's day? Start with two words, "domesticated reptile."

"I love that term," said Sleiertin when asked if MaxMan Reptile Rescue, of Jordan, deals with mostly domesticated reptiles. Sleiertin was at the New York State Fair's Veterinary Hall Sept. 1 with her team of volunteers, preparing to lead her third demonstration of the day.

Sleiertin said reptiles aren't technically considered domesticated, "but the fact of the matter is most of the reptiles that are in the pet trade have been captive bread and captive born for so long that you could legitimately consider them domesticated animals."

While during the spring and summer MaxMan responds to a lot of calls about turtles or snakes that have been hit by cars, the majority of animals they work with are from the pet trade.

MaxMan is staffed with around 45 volunteers, and offers a junior volunteer program for kids ages 8 to 18. It started as just Sleiertin and her son Declan Placidi, now 10.

Declan's been handling reptiles and helping with presentations since he was 3 years old.

MaxMan rescue is all about protecting animals while they heal as well as finding them a proper home. Sleiertin told a story of one college student who wished to adopt a tortoise but did not have the funds.

"We waived the adoption fee," she said. "I'm not worried about trying to get money from college students. I'd rather find the right home for the animal."

Sleiertin's passion for animals translates to a passion for animal education. Her role as an educator began 15 years ago when her friends started asking her to perform reptile shows for their kids using her iguana. That iguana was named Maximillian, hence "MaxMan."

"It basically hobbied out of control," she said. Her hobby, of reptile education, fits right into the fair atmosphere.

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