Friday, June 23, 2006

Fuzzy, Well Trained, Needs Home: 1,000 Rats

1,000 rats found in Petaluma home. Dozens of rats are seen in a cage at an animal shelter in Petaluma, Calif., Thursday. Associated Press photo by Mark Aronof

When I first saw this article I thought, Oh here we go again, another human being who's been turned off by people and has decided to keep the company of more trusting, non-latte drinking creatures. In reading past animal articles like this I've heard of people living with Tigers, Pigs, Monkeys, Lizards and that all slithering creature the Snake. Many people are living today with such creatures as live-in pets and are left alone, unharrassed, to enjoy private quality time in their own animal kingdoms.

Unfortunately, it is when either the homeowner neglects keeping the guestroom clean or the guest becomes unruly, that neighbors complain and "snitch" on our animal loving tenant who yet again conflicts with the social order of civilization.

The case in today's paper involved an animal with a dirty image to begin with; Rats. The animal control officers dispatched to the home of our innocent tenant reported that the owner made efforts to accomodate his house guests but at some point the task became just overwhelming and unmanageable. Unless part of a laboratory experiment, Rats know nothing about birth control.

Of the 1,000 pet Rats found at the one room house, 20 were uncaged and running around the room. Their ages ranged from 3-year-old adults to little pink newborns. Also in the home were eight cats. I repeat, 1 Room, 8 Cats, 900 Rats. That's just too much fur and tail for my blood. My guess is that the cats may have started out as being a form of population control for these Rats. How else do you explain Cats and Rats living in a one room house with one adult human supervising? Maybe he should've used snakes to keep those Rats sexually starved. Rats have a lot of respect for snakes, so much so that they'll sit in a corner for hours quiet as a "mouse" when a snake is in the room. No thoughts of sex, food or water when the big bad Snake is in-the-house.

Here's a description of the scene inside the house when animal control agents arrived: "About 20 Rats were running around the room, the tenant's bed was in the middle of the room and there was food, cat litter and who knows what else all over the floor."

Now I may be a messy bachelor in a small apartment with leftover chips and dip sitting around a few days, but you won't find anything with fur and a tail running around my bed. I take that back, once I brought home a girl from a halloween party dressed in a cat outfit. We were drunk, she was game and I awoke the next morning with her cat tail tickling my nose. I must say that I had one Tail of a time that night, but no neighbors complained, she left the next day and a litter wasnt born out of that one nighter. She's since moved out of state but manages to send me a friendship card every year around halloween time with just four letters written inside. Meow!

Our tenant's guests didn't fare so well upon departure from his home. Animal control ended up having to euthanize 70 of the Rats due to sickness or injury. The 900 or so remaining Rats were taken to the animal shelter and........put up for Adoption? Yes, you can adopt an adolescent male Rat for $5 each starting next tuesday at the Petaluma Animal Shelter. The female Rats will be put up for adoption after 21 days - their usual gestulation period - to make sure they aren't pregnant.

Anyone interested in adopting a Rat can reach Petaluma Animal Services at (707) 778-4396.

As for our human tenant, labeled a "Hoarder" by Animal Services, no charges were filed against him. He'll be allowed to keep two of his furry, long-tailed friends but will have to submit to mandatory monitoring by Animal Services of Petaluma. Animal Services say that "Hoarders" have a 100 percent rate of recidivism unless some action is taken. The tenant was deemed a "Classic Hoarder" and therefore will be required to adhere to Animal Services rules and regulations for Hoarders.

Now if only I can get a Animal Control Adoption program like this for the coachroaches that visit my apartment every so often. They really are fun loving animals when the lights are off, honest!

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