To Top

Life & Work with Haylee Morris

Today we’d like to introduce you to Haylee Morris.

Hi Haylee, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Franklin’s Home first started as a small, unnamed rescue in January of 2020.

At that time I (Haylee, the Director/Founder) began the rescue to provide a resource for the exotic pets of domestic violence victims. We could see there were several amazing resources existing across Knoxville to assist in placing cats and dogs in those situations, but there was not one for exotic pets.

My educational background, training, and professional experience in working with exotic animals. Therefore, I knew those were the pets I could best help. In late January of 2020, we received our first surrender, a young corn snake by the name of Tonks.

Tonks stayed with us during her safety period (a 3 month period of time to ensure the victim is safe, and no one is looking for them, by trying to find the pets) and was later adopted out to a local veterinarian where Tonks still lives happily to this day! A few months later, and during the peak of COVID-19, we received a surrender request for a trio of ferrets who were needing a placement immediately.

We drove three hours to meet their owner to get them and immediately took them so they could receive the medical care needed. Given their age, medical requirements, and that adopting a trio is hard; they were renamed Snowflake, Hagrid, and Haggard and given a permanent place to live out their lives with our director.

It was not until March of 2022 that our director Haylee decided to open our doors to all exotics and small pets needing help. At this time, we still did not have a name. After several days of thinking, our directors settled on Franklin’s Home Animal Rescue, as our official name. FHAR is named in honor of Franklin, a very special rescue pup who sadly passed away this past Christmas.

While Franklin was not an exotic animal, he left such an impact on our directors, that we knew it was a perfect choice. Haylee, along with all of our directors, also has a very big soft spot for elderly dogs and cats, and german shepherd dogs, and on a case-by-case basis, accept them into the rescue as well!

We are a small, foster-based rescue, meaning all of the animals here at Franklin’s Home, reside in homes with families, and individuals who provide them with the best care until a forever home is found. Since our official opening in March, alongside our board of directors, we now have grown to over 15 foster parents and an amazing community that supports us!

We currently have 6 adoptable animals in our rescue!

-Bekkah, a 1-year-old female guinea pig
-Raven and Crow, bonded 6-month-old rat, sisters
-Peach, a 4-year-old ferret

And many more who will be available for adoption soon!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Our road has been both smooth, and bumpy at times! For us, the most difficult struggle is when people need our help, but we do not have space to bring any new animals to the rescue. This has only happened once but that, for me, is the most difficult. In cases like that, we will always work to find a rescue placement for the pets.

Another struggle is when pets are abandoned on our doorsteps, quite literally. We always want to be able to have at least a quick conversation with the owner, to learn about the pet, what food they like, and their favorite toy, these things just help us provide the happiest environment for the animal. Abandoning them causes them stress, which can lead to medical issues.

Our current adoptable guinea pig, Bekkah, was abandoned on our director’s front porch during a thunderstorm. By the time she was found, she was freezing cold, soaking wet, and petrified. She fought pneumonia for several weeks but is now ready to find her forever humans, and hopefully a guinea pig or two as well.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
We specialize in exotic pet rescue, and I believe that is what we are best known for as well, as we are one of few exotic animal rescues in the surrounding area that accepts all species of exotics. What I am most proud of is our continuous work alongside fellow local rescues to provide what is best for the animals.

We work consistently with Operation Bun Bun Rescue (a local rabbit and cat rescue), and always will. We also assist other rescues as well by fostering, providing transportation, etc such as the Knoxville Guinea Pig Rescue, Foxy Family Rescue, and also for the Humane Society as a neonatal kitten foster!

I feel that sets us apart because we are always willing to assist our friends in rescue whenever, and wherever they need it!

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
The most important lesson from this is one I have always known, but the pandemic crisis has only reinforced. Never judge a book by its cover.

We will never know exactly what is going on in a person’s life that leads to surrendering their pet. But, we know that is not ever an easy, or pain-free decision to make, and always stay open-minded.


  • Guinea Pig Adoption fee: $40 for a single or $75 for a pair
  • Rabbit Adoption fee: $80
  • Small rodents (rats, hamsters, mice, etc) $15-$25
  • Ferrets: $120

Contact Info:

  • Facebook: Franklin’s Home Animal Rescue on Facebook

Image Credits

Headshot photographed by Kyla McCauley

Suggest a Story: KnoxvilleVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories