Suddenly I have all sorts of free time (note the sudden rash of blog entries), and it's because the pet rat crisis of 2006 has largely been resolved, but not without a final tragedy.
To refresh your memory: a man was discovered to be living in a one room cottage in Petaluma with over one thousand (1,000!!) living rats and countless dead rats. The rats were living many layers deep in cages; what an absolute hell that must have been. The Petaluma pound had the terrible job of clearing out the animals, and the head of the pound, Ms. Nancee Tavares, announced that she would be keeping the rats and offering them out for adoption. Without notice or fanfare, Ms. Tavares ordered over 900 of the rats killed... including the mothers of still-nursing babies. Rat enthusiasts, who were rallying to rescue the rats, were heartbroken and thrown off course. However, after regrouping, the remaining hundred odd rats, and their babies, were gradually all removed from the pound and sent off to foster and permanent homes. The last group was taken out in a hurry after Ms. Tavares announced her intent to euthanize them all, including a nursing mother and her babies, but she relented and kept them alive a few more days after she was promised they would all be taken away by rat rescuers.
One incredibly dedicated rat rescuer, herself in the third trimester of her pregnancy, undertook the mission of driving a large carload of these last rats to Missouri, where Midwest rat fanciers would take them. Her car's air conditioning broke down in Martinez, California, and five of the rats died of heat stroke.
These poor, poor, poor rats. They survived the hoarding hell, and they survived the hideous culling at the Petaluma pound, which was truly like a rat Auschwitz selektion, and then, just as they were en route to loving homes, they died a painful death. And the poor woman driving, someone I've met before who has truly devoted huge amounts of energy and work towards saving rats, how absolutely awful she must feel.
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