As a rescue we spend a notable amount of time on Kijiji. This is for a variety of reasons – to intercept people looking into pet rats in order to encourage them to adopt, to identify breeders, and, of course, to identify and rescue rats that are put on Kijiji as a way of discarding them when children have lost interest or the rat has gotten sick.
We can’t always save them all. It comes down to operational needs and we are often put in a position where we are at capacity and unable to take in rats that could use our help in finding a second chance. There are so many rats out there, looking for homes. But sometimes, we see a case that, regardless of how full we are and how stretched our time and resources might be, we simply can’t pass by.
This is Spirit.
On September 25th, 2014, we came across her ad, posted on Kijiji. Immediately, our attention was drawn to the size (or lack thereof) of her cage and the fact that wood shavings (dangerous to the sensitive respiratory systems of rats) were being used. The filth of the cage only made us more concerned. And then we turned our attention to the small pixilated face in the picture. Despite the poor quality of the photo – it is evident to anyone who has ever seen or had a healthy rat that she is not well. She is so thin and her fur, which should be smooth and shiny, is dull and puffed. Immediately, we knew something had to be done.
Within hours, the previously unnamed rat, who we named Spirit, was in our care.
A closer look at her condition only made our hearts ache more.
Spirit is skin and bones. Her hips are sunken to the point where we are shocked she is able to walk at all. She has large bald spots from stress, malnutrition, and neglect. She has an obvious respiratory infection and a protruding tumor covered by a thin layer of skin.
Why would anyone allow any living being to languish in this state?
This is what happens when money is more important than welfare, when people see rats (or any animal) as a source of income as opposed to living beings that need to be treated with respect. Breeders, whether for feeders or pets, are not concerned about welfare – they are concerned about money. How many baby rats can they get out of one female at a time? How little can they spend in terms of bedding, food, and cages? Vet care is completely out of the question – that would destroy their profit margins. It is in this environment that cases like Spirit’s occur. Rats are left, weakened by illness and starving in small cages, and bred until their bodies simply cannot handle it anymore. There is no escape.
Pet stores are no better – where do you think they get their animals from?
This is not just a plea to adopt, not shop; this is a request to look at the condition of Spirit and realize that this is not an isolated case. This is something we see time and time again, in varying degrees of severity. This is what buying off breeders on Kijiji or from pet stores enables.
We often read and see news updates on the horrors of puppy mills. This is no different except these small creatures receive no publicity, and so their suffering is hidden from the outside world. Abuse is abuse, and no creature, however small, is deserves this suffering.
Our first priority with Spirit is to do everything in our power to nurse her to health. Clearly, this will take up much of our time and resources. We are asking for your help: please spread Spirit’s story and check back here for updates on Spirit’s progress.
Thank you for helping to spread the word and supporting us while we help her recover.