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Discussion Starter #1
Dear awful people,

How can you call yourself a humane society? How can you honestly justify giving veterinary care to the more "common" pets and not to small animals?

How could you sell a rat when you don't even know the sex or if it might be pregnant? Are you crazy? Would you sell a dog if you thought it was pregnant? You should be ashamed of yourselves. You should have your rights restricted to care for anything but small animals. There are citizen-run animal sanctuaries that provide medical care for all animals that come into their location, and if they can do it on donations and their own pocket money, how can't you?

Terrible.

P.S. Also, she bit me. You can't sell an aggressive animal to people. You guys are just the worst.
 

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Oh no, sounds like a horrible situation. If she is pregnant, the biting might not be mean but just protective of her babies. Have she had her babies yet?
 

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Not a good situation, but with a letter like that, you will be written off as an angry person not to be taken seriously. If you change the wording and pose it as more of a situation with serious concerns from health and safety (and animal welfare point of view) it might be of more use to you. Perhaps consider re-writing it in a more formal tone (as if you were writing to a business).

Adopting any animal is a risk... I adopted a "3yr old healthy cat" from my shelter and found out only ~2 weeks later that he had seizures... took to my vet and surprise! he isn't 3, he's more like 5-6 and has an enlarged heart and has a tattoo on his stomach marking him as a probable ex-lab-test-cat who was horrendous to give meds to and suffered from seizures the rest of his days. After this happened to me, I decided not to adopt from shelters any longer (rescue or buying from a breeder from now on).

Honestly, you just never know what you're getting. With dogs / cats, they can do temperament tests, but with rats, they would have to handle them for that and maybe the workers are afraid of rats, etc. Rats are most often aggressive due to being defensive / afraid. Females can and do get maternal aggression (one of my does had this) and it is considered a serious fault as the pups will learn aggression from the mother and it has a genetic component also. Good breeders do not breed from animals that have shown aggression, even maternal aggression.. In my case, once my doe showed signs (basically charging me and biting the mess out of my hand once) I raised her litter till weaning and stopped her line in my breeding program (did not breed from her pups or her again). I had to wear heavy suede-like utility gloves when I went in her tub from then on and always took the pups out to socialize..I didn't socialize with the mom with them. I also exposed them to friendly females to see non-aggressive behavior.

In your case, I would contact the shelter and explain the situation (in a calm manner).. Tell them about the female being both aggressive and pregnant and then have a course of action and see if they go along with it. Maybe you keep the mom and pups until the pups are weanable age (around 5-6 weeks). Handle the pups as much as possible and pick out the least aggressive and friendliest ones to keep (of the same gender) and then return the mom and other pups to the shelter. I know many people tolerate and "work with" aggressive rats that they have rescued, but since you did not go in knowing that was the case, I think you should feel ok with returning her and keeping a couple of the friendly pups from her litter.

Your only other option would be to see if there is a rat rescue in your area that would be willing to take her and work with her and her pups then reserve you a couple of them once they are weanable age.

You could also just return her while still pregnant (if she hasn't had them yet) and try to find a good breeder to buy from in your area. Most feeder breeders also breed-out aggression from their lines and would probably have rats that would be easier to handle than an aggressive / biting one; so if you can't find a pet-only breeder, then checking to see if any feeder-breeders are in your area might work too (keep in mind that you would want to see living conditions to verify that they keep their animals in good clean setups, etc.).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Oh no, sounds like a horrible situation. If she is pregnant, the biting might not be mean but just protective of her babies. Have she had her babies yet?
I believe that's exactly what it was. That, and possibly abuse or neglect by humans in the past. They way she bit was very interesting, quite firm but not enough to break the skin. I tried not to develop a negative behavior in her so I took my finger out of her mouth but left my hand in the same place (about 6 inches from her). After a few, more curious, bites, she was very confused and began to sniff, no longer biting me. Not sure if I managed to change anything in her because it could be her preggo instinct but I hope I did something right on that.
 

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Not a good situation, but with a letter like that, you will be written off as an angry person not to be taken seriously. If you change the wording and pose it as more of a situation with serious concerns from health and safety (and animal welfare point of view) it might be of more use to you. Perhaps consider re-writing it in a more formal tone (as if you were writing to a business).

Adopting any animal is a risk... I adopted a "3yr old healthy cat" from my shelter and found out only ~2 weeks later that he had seizures... took to my vet and surprise! he isn't 3, he's more like 5-6 and has an enlarged heart and has a tattoo on his stomach marking him as a probable ex-lab-test-cat who was horrendous to give meds to and suffered from seizures the rest of his days. After this happened to me, I decided not to adopt from shelters any longer (rescue or buying from a breeder from now on).

Honestly, you just never know what you're getting. With dogs / cats, they can do temperament tests, but with rats, they would have to handle them for that and maybe the workers are afraid of rats, etc. Rats are most often aggressive due to being defensive / afraid. Females can and do get maternal aggression (one of my does had this) and it is considered a serious fault as the pups will learn aggression from the mother and it has a genetic component also. Good breeders do not breed from animals that have shown aggression, even maternal aggression.. In my case, once my doe showed signs (basically charging me and biting the mess out of my hand once) I raised her litter till weaning and stopped her line in my breeding program (did not breed from her pups or her again). I had to wear heavy suede-like utility gloves when I went in her tub from then on and always took the pups out to socialize..I didn't socialize with the mom with them. I also exposed them to friendly females to see non-aggressive behavior.

In your case, I would contact the shelter and explain the situation (in a calm manner).. Tell them about the female being both aggressive and pregnant and then have a course of action and see if they go along with it. Maybe you keep the mom and pups until the pups are weanable age (around 5-6 weeks). Handle the pups as much as possible and pick out the least aggressive and friendliest ones to keep (of the same gender) and then return the mom and other pups to the shelter. I know many people tolerate and "work with" aggressive rats that they have rescued, but since you did not go in knowing that was the case, I think you should feel ok with returning her and keeping a couple of the friendly pups from her litter.

Your only other option would be to see if there is a rat rescue in your area that would be willing to take her and work with her and her pups then reserve you a couple of them once they are weanable age.

You could also just return her while still pregnant (if she hasn't had them yet) and try to find a good breeder to buy from in your area. Most feeder breeders also breed-out aggression from their lines and would probably have rats that would be easier to handle than an aggressive / biting one; so if you can't find a pet-only breeder, then checking to see if any feeder-breeders are in your area might work too (keep in mind that you would want to see living conditions to verify that they keep their animals in good clean setups, etc.).
Thank you so much for your insight. Yes, I am totally raving in that letter. I actually did manage to tone it down when I went in there and talked with the workers. Lol.

I calmly explained that maybe if she's pregnant she should see a vet? In case there are complications. She flat out said they wouldn't do that.

Then I told her about the biting situation, and that I was very okay in the situation, not hurt, and wanted to inform her of it in case any children want to come in and see/hold her. She was shocked because the rat had never bitten her, but I was like....still...maybe it would be a good idea to take her off the website for a little while, until she has the babies at least. She didn't say anything about it and was said again that the rat had never bit her before.

They took her off the website, thankfully. I don't know if it was because of me or if it was a management decision.

I'm so upset with the fact that they thought the whole thing would be totally fine to do. Nothing short of a sketchy BYB or an ignorant pet store. But yeah, glad she's off the website. I really needed to get this out of me.
 

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It's so sad how little attention small animals are given in rescue. If they're going to adopt them out they need to at least get their information right.
 

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It's really surprising to me how care at shelters can vary so much. It's no secret that they're chronically underfunded and undermanned, however, I don't think that's an excuse in a situation like this.

The SPCA near me used to have two male rats whom I visited frequently. They had a double FN loaded with fun stuff all to themselves, and they were in the middle of the lobby where they could socialize with everyone. They were soooo sweet - I almost took them home :p
 

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I don't want to in anyway imply an excuse for poor care at shelters. However, I will say this in their defense.......

After working with many, many shelters and talking to the people that run them, I can tell you that their attitudes don't necessarily mean that they don't care. Many of them have had to develop thick skins to deal with the horrible things that they witness nearly everyday.

In my previous line of work with shelters, my primary job was helping raise funds and supplies for them to care for animals standing in front of retail establishments. Many people I talked with were deeply disturbed because of the abuse of their neighbors pets, or horrible stories they've read, etc. They felt the need to share them with me. At first, I would get so upset that I had to take breaks do pull myself together and go back to work. But every second I wasn't working meant that I wasn't helping an animal. I had to disassociate in order to keep working and helping animals. I didn't realize just how much of an impact it had on me until after I quit that job. It took a few weeks to deal with all the pent up emotions I couldn't let myself deal with for 3 1/2 years at that job.

While there are unfortunately people who couldn't care less that work at shelters, the majority of the people I knew working at shelters were very disturbed by things that happen to animals. They are the ones that have to actually witness first hand some the atrocities people inflict on their pets. And let me tell you, I've heard some pretty scary stories that will not get reported in newspapers or television. The worst part, is that those things happen so often.
 

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Just some thoughts.. Take them how you will..

Back when I worked at a kill shelter, quite awhile ago, they didn't even offer small animals for adoption. Why? Because they couldn't afford to vet them and screen them. They really couldn't. There was barely enough money to care for dogs and cats which already came into the shelter healthy. Sick animals were universally euthanized.

Back then, I used to just take home any small animals that were surrendered. There were two ways small animals left that shelter, either home with me or into the crematorium.

It took years to convince them to offer small animals for adoption precisely because they were afraid that people may get bitten and they could get sued and then not be able to help anything.

A letter like yours just encourages them to euthanize all small animals that come in.

All known biters are euthanized. That's the only way an animal shelter can protect itself from being sued. Now that she's a known biter, she's probably been euthanized.


A pity really, since most small animals nibble. Since she didn't draw blood she wasn't really being aggressive.

I'm not entirely sure what sort of glamour pet you expected at your local SPCA. They can't control what kind of pet's people surrender to them. They don't have the space and time to re-socialize small animals. More than likely, the small animal rescues turned the person away who wanted to surrender her. When they are full, they just can't take anymore and people resort to the local shelter.

Offering her for adoption was probably just, you know, an attempt at saving her life. Even though no one there was smart enough to know her gender and had no way of knowing her history, like, if she could be pregnant, they still attempted to save her. Though, I mean, now that she sort of nibbled at you, she's probably been euthanized.

Rant over.. lol

The only person you should be mad at is the loser who raised her and surrendered her. Your local SPCA probably did the best they could do with the funds and skills they had available.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Just some thoughts.. Take them how you will..

Back when I worked at a kill shelter, quite awhile ago, they didn't even offer small animals for adoption. Why? Because they couldn't afford to vet them and screen them. They really couldn't. There was barely enough money to care for dogs and cats which already came into the shelter healthy. Sick animals were universally euthanized.

Back then, I used to just take home any small animals that were surrendered. There were two ways small animals left that shelter, either home with me or into the crematorium.

It took years to convince them to offer small animals for adoption precisely because they were afraid that people may get bitten and they could get sued and then not be able to help anything.

A letter like yours just encourages them to euthanize all small animals that come in.

All known biters are euthanized. That's the only way an animal shelter can protect itself from being sued. Now that she's a known biter, she's probably been euthanized.


A pity really, since most small animals nibble. Since she didn't draw blood she wasn't really being aggressive.

I'm not entirely sure what sort of glamour pet you expected at your local SPCA. They can't control what kind of pet's people surrender to them. They don't have the space and time to re-socialize small animals. More than likely, the small animal rescues turned the person away who wanted to surrender her. When they are full, they just can't take anymore and people resort to the local shelter.

Offering her for adoption was probably just, you know, an attempt at saving her life. Even though no one there was smart enough to know her gender and had no way of knowing her history, like, if she could be pregnant, they still attempted to save her. Though, I mean, now that she sort of nibbled at you, she's probably been euthanized.

Rant over.. lol

The only person you should be mad at is the loser who raised her and surrendered her. Your local SPCA probably did the best they could do with the funds and skills they had available.
Well, my stomach dropped after reading this. I didn't expect to be chided for my own thoughts and feelings on a rant post.
I didn't put in a formal complaint. I know it says open letter but I didn't actually send this to the SPCA. I went in and spoke with the customer service associate about the rat and asked my questions.

My issue is that they were going to sell a pregnant rat. Could they not have waited until they gave birth? Also, the lady I spoke with was 100% willing to foster her and the SPCA refused. So they do have people to send animals to if they get crowded. It is irresponsible to sell a rat to a person when you don't know the gender, that can lead to many more rats in the future.

I know you are probably uspet that I mentioned she bit me, but really - if a child went in there and was bitten by a rat, would you be okay with that? I'm not saying I'd rather have that sweetie killed but it obviously needed to be addressed. I'm not going to hide that information and potentially cause a dangerous accident so someone else. Also, when i told the lady that. she was so surprised that I assume she would not have told anyone and kept her alive, she was already so in love with her. IF she wants to keep it to herself then that is her prerogative.

I didn't mean to come off as an ignorant person, but I am still upset at what they did.


Edit: more about the bite; it was aggressive. It was hard, It didn't draw blood, but it was definitely not a nibble. Now, if they are smart, they realize that if she is pregnant, that is a protective bite and would not consititute normal aggressive behaviour. I would even go as far to say that if they kept her until she gave birth and then let her be adopted it would have never happened.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hello to those that are interested in the status of the rat.

I just called the SPCA inquiring about her, she was recently adopted! Yay! And she was not pregnant. Also, they haven't euthanized an animal at that location for about 5 or more years, and they went into detail about their progressive process for handling aggressive or pregnant animals.

I am not sure the reason why they wanted to adopt her out prior to knowing the gender or status of pregnancy, but considering the outcome, my opinion on this place has changed. I am considering coming forth as a foster parent in the future to help out with any capacity issues in the future.
 

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Yay for a happy ending. ;D
 
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