From the March/April 2000 Rat & Mouse Gazette
It all started on June 18, 1999, when five pet rats came into the shelter. They were called "the crush victims." At the time, I did not know what that meant. I soon found out it meant some disgusting and sick people got a sexual high on taping innocent pet rats to the floor to crush them and take pictures or videotape them. You see, the women wore nothing but spiked high heels. And while they were stepping on these little furry creatures, someone videotaped it and sold these tapes for $100 each. It really brought tears to my eyes, since I am the rodent lady at the shelter. I love these little guys. They don't deserve this kind of treatment any more than any other animal does.
This is where all the extra time and hours came in for me. Most people are afraid and don't really understand pet rats. I started going to the shelter seven days a week to take care of these pet rats. I took in cages, food, CareFRESH®, and medicine. So, every day the officers saw me cutting up vegetables and fruit for the rats. I also took in rice, pasta, and scrambled eggs. I kept up this pace for the first three and a half months.
The two females were pregnant, but no one at the shelter knew it. One day, I was in there cleaning the cages and I saw some blood and realized one of the girls was about to give birth. It was time for Teddy Bear, the father to come out of the cage. I moved him to another cage, but left the other female with her to help take care of the babies. We didn't have another extra cage to put her in. I kept changing cages around, trying to make things better for everyone.
There were 12 babies in the litter. I called the rat club that I am a member of and they agreed to take the babies and find them homes when they were old enough. The babies were very healthy and I was pleased with myself.
The second litter of babies was born to the poor female who had actually been taped to the floor - 12 more! I tried giving the first mom a few of the babies to take care of so she wouldn't be sad about her babies being gone; someone told me that would be fine to do. Two weeks later, the babies were dead. It made me really sad and I blamed myself. The mom's milk had dried up and I didn't know it. If she were at home with me I would have noticed, but the rats couldn't be removed from the shelter because they were evidence in a crime.
The rest of the second set of babies were fine, and again, the rat club took them when they were old enough. I felt good about everyone; however, the three male rats were fighting. Their quarters were just too close for comfort and they did not get to come out and play at the shelter. Everyone started getting stressed out. There were too many snakes and cats in the back room where the rats were, and the rats were getting really nervous, stressing them out. Because of this, the shelter finally agreed to let me take them home so I could properly care for them until they were released from being "evidence."
We made a few trips to the veterinarian, and on the whole, everyone was coming along fine. However, I had to put one male rat alone in a cage because the other two were picking on him. Poor Samuel, he was one who had actually had his tail taped to the floor. He's a little slow and his eyesight is not the best, but he has learned how to get on my bed and he's a very sweet little boy.
The female who had been taped to the floor, Pipsqueak, bit me nine times, but I expected her to be difficult. If someone taped me to the floor, I would probably bite, too! I had to really work with her and we have come a long, long way. Pipsqueak adores me now - my hard work paid off. I still don't stick my fingers through the cage bars, though.
On February 15, 2000, the man who had been arrested for videotaping the act of 'crushing' these poor rats was sentenced to three years in prison. The woman went to the county jail for one year and will also be on probation for a while. Not bad for a cruelty case.
On March 29, 2000 I found a tumor on Teddy Bear, the father of the babies. On March 30 I took him into Dr. Ridgeway in Long Beach, California. He took fluid out of the tumor to check for malignancy. She called me the next day to tell me it was cancer. The shelter didn't want to pay to have the tumor removed - it's not their job. I couldn't let Teddy Bear die, and since the rats will really be mine when they are released as evidence, I said I would pay the bill and have the tumor removed. Teddy's appointment was set for April 4. The tumor had doubled in size since I first took him in. Only a week later it was the size of a walnut. I took Teddy in at 8:30 am and sat and waited for Dr. Ridgeway to operate. It wasn't until 11:00 am that they were ready to perform Teddy's surgery. I waited the 40 minutes it took to remove the tumor and talked with Dr. Ridgeway (and saw the tumor!) afterward. He had to really scrape and go deep to get it all out.
For the first four days, Teddy's cage was on my bed beside me so I could watch him. I wanted to be sure he didn't get bored or lonely and start chewing on his stitches. After the danger had passed, I moved his cage to my dresser at night. On April 15 I tried to put Teddy back with Robin Hood, but Teddy picked on Robin Hood and was being aggressive. It will take a while to get them to live peacefully together again.
On April 5, 2000 all of the cruelty case rats were finally released from custody. They are all now legally mine. It took almost a whole year! From June 18, 1999 to April 5, 2000 my love for these guys has kept them healthy and happy. I used to say they were in jail during this period, but my friend said that they were at Disneyland being in my house! She was probably right. The cruelty case rats wish to thank everyone for the 370 letters you sent to Judy Griffith and Wayne Besenty of the Long Beach Animal Control.
And my guys who had to share my time and love:
I lost all of these guys within two months of each other. I lost Buddy
and Poo-Poo within one week of each other. That was really rough.
>From the heart of Judy Griffith, volunteer at Long Beach Animal Control, Rabbit-Rodent adoptions.