Unusual tactic saves lives at Kennett Square pet shop

Without power at Paws & Claws in Kennett Square, owner George Treisner devised a hot plan.
Without power at Paws & Claws in Kennett Square, owner George Treisner devised a hot plan. (Handout)
Posted: February 13, 2014

When the power went out last week at George Treisner's Kennett Square pet shop, and nearly a thousand fish inside came face to face with a frigid demise in their typically tropical tanks, the owner turned to an unlikely appliance for help.

A propane fish fryer.

In a pot of water warmed above the flame, Trainer heated up dozens of water bottles before submerging them in the tanks of striped Gouramis, neon Tetras, and glistening guppies. For eight hours, until the lights at Paws & Claws Pet Store came back on at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Treisner kept up the rotation, swapping out bottles when they turned lukewarm.

"The stress of knowing that I've got the lives of these creatures in my hands, I mean, it sounds silly, but I hate anything to die on me," said Treisner, who didn't care that insurance would have covered the cost of lost fish.

The water bottles kept the tanks - typically heated to the mid-70s - in the high 60s, he said. But the strategy wasn't enough to save about 20 Discus fish, whose tank is usually heated to 85 degrees.

Treisner also has about a dozen reptiles at the shop. The bearded dragons and leopard geckos rode out the outage in boxes stacked in the seats of his Subaru Outback, kept steamy with the vents at full blast. To make sure the snakes didn't escape, Treisner put them in pillowcases first - a good idea, except for the hole in one of the case's corners.

Luckily, that snake stayed in his box.

Ricky, an Amazon parrot, was in a cozy cage in the back.

"He was happy. I had the music going for him," Treisner said, "and he seemed to enjoy himself."

Treisner is hopeful his shop will be spared by the storm expected Wednesday and Thursday. If he does lose power, though, at least this time he won't have to come up with a plan on the fly.

"It helps you think real quick," he said, "when you have things that are going to die on you."


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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