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Any Rat Rescue

IN THE January 10 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andDiana Hockley,
andRodent Ramblings
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by Diana Hockley

KRL enjoys featuring the many rat rescues around the county. This month we are chatting with Any Rat Rescue in Arizona.

KRL: Rescuing animals is a labor of love and total dedication. What was the catalyst for the creation of Any Rat Rescue in Arizona? And when did it come to be?

Any Rat Rescue: A group of Phoenix-area rat fans initially became acquainted virtually, via the Rats Rule online forum. In-person gatherings followed, where the group shared photos, stories, and a genuine love of these intelligent creatures. As often happens, friends and neighbors spread the word and before long, people who wished to surrender their pets began to contact members of the group. In 2004, one of the members, Therese Hitesman, decided to make the group an official rescue by incorporating, then becoming a 501(c)(3) charitable organization under the name Any Rat Rescue. rats

KRL: What sort of set-up do you have? Is it a private house or a purpose-built complex?

Any Rat Rescue: Any Rat Rescue operates as a network of foster homes. Our Director, Jenna Lillibridge, has some supplies stored at her home, but the majority of our materials are housed in off-site storage, and with various volunteers who keep items handy to set up booths at adoption and awareness events.

KRL: What type of animals do you take in? Just rats or do you take in others too? And how many can you accommodate?

Any Rat Rescue:Our mission is to find loving, forever homes for any pet rat in need. We work with just pet rats. The number we can accommodate depends on the number of active foster homes at any given time. We usually have 10 to 20 pets available for adoption.

KRL: Do you have to be a registered charity for rescue or tax exemption purposes?

Any Rat Rescue:Any Rat Rescue is registered as a 501(c)(3) charity and is incorporated. This is necessary for donors to be able to claim tax benefit for their contributions. It also binds us to certain reporting requirements that we believe validate our status and will encourage potential supporters to know that we are operating with transparency and professionalism.rats

KRL: Do the local authorities support you, in particular the local vets?

Any Rat Rescue:Any Rat Rescue has a local vet as our medical director, and works with a network of exotic vets regularly. They work with us to discount medical expenses and to share information about best practices in pet rat care. In the sad situations where we’ve had to work with large-scale rescue and hoarding situations, officials have been very supportive. We also have good working relationships with humane societies, who often reach out to us to help with education and re-homing efforts.

KRL: How does the local community regard your activities, and are they supportive in adoption and/or monetary terms?

Any Rat Rescue:Although some people are taken aback by the idea of pet rats, I’d have to say that we are generally very well respected and well received. The Phoenix area has a wonderful coalition of rescues called PACC911 (Phoenix Animal Care Coalition,) of which we are a member. It’s very helpful for members of the public to see us at events along with the more traditional rescues that they know so well.

We have a number of wonderful, regular donors, some who even apply through their employers’ matching funds, and we value each of them very deeply. Their continued support allows us to keep our vet fund healthy, and gives us the confidence to provide care when emergencies arise. While most of these supporters are in Arizona, we have several from out of state who have learned of our efforts and contribute regularly.rats

KRL: Do you have many volunteers and how do you recruit them?

Any Rat Rescue:Our largest body of volunteers are our foster homes. We couldn’t do what we do without their daily support and care. We are a completely volunteer organization, which includes a small board of directors, a director and assistant director, communications coordinator, and treasurer. We also have a newsletter editor, and volunteers who maintain our Petfinder page of adoptable rats, create a monthly flier, contribute to our social media pages, and staff tabling and adoption/education events. We also have several volunteers who sew hammocks for us. We don’t have a formal recruitment program, but find that when someone is drawn to these somewhat unusual (and often maligned) pets, they are often motivated to help and reach out to us proactively to volunteer.rat

KRL: How did you personally get involved?

Any Rat Rescue:I was one of the original rat fans who met online and was among the first group who met for lunch at a restaurant to “talk rats.” After getting together socially for a couple of years, I’ll never forget the day that I picked up my phone to hear Therese’s voice on the other end. There was no “hello” or exchange of pleasantries, just an exclamation of “I’ve had an epiphany!” We immediately registered our domain name, and the rest, as they say, is history! (Janet Cooper, Communications Coordinator and founding board member)

KRL: Rescues depend on donations from the public. Do you charge a small fee for your animals when they are adopted? Do you have PayPal and credit card facilities?

Any Rat Rescue:We don’t have a set fee for adoptions, but instead ask for a contribution to help offset the costs of providing for the rats’ care. In general, adopters are very generous and will contribute more when adopting a rat who has needed medical care or has been spayed or neutered. We have a PayPal account through the info@anyratrescue[dot]org email address, which allows us to take credit card contributions.

KRL: Are there any special challenges to rescuing rats?

Any Rat Rescue:I’d have to imagine that our general challenges are much like any animal rescue. Our vet fees are high since rats are exotic pets. Each rat goes through a quarantine period and a mandatory medication regimen before they are adopted. Spays and neuters are much more difficult and expensive than in traditional cats or dogs, so we are limited to foster homes housing only one gender. This provides a bit of a logistics challenge, but it’s ingrained into what we do.

KRL: How many rats do you think you have saved so far?

Any Rat Rescue:We average 150 or more adoptions per year, and have found loving homes for more than 1,000 pet rats.rats

KRL: Have you been involved in any hoarder or big rat rescues? If so can you tell us about the special challenges involved?

Any Rat Rescue:We have been involved in large-scale rescues and hoarding situations, which are heart-breaking at best. The person at the heart of the issue is undoubtedly unstable and in general, truly cares for their rats. Dealing with their emotional issues, the legal consequences, and of course the health and welfare of the animals involved, is extremely difficult.

KRL: Do have a “rat road train” set up to move rescues to their Forever Homes?

Any Rat Rescue:We typically limit our efforts to Arizona and don’t formally have a transportation network in place. However, we have participated in rat trains and will continue to do so whenever possible.

KRL: Have you any fundraising or adoption events coming up and would you like to give the details?

Any Rat Rescue:Our largest fundraiser of the year is an annual Bowl-A-Rama event in Scottsdale, which typically takes place in August. In addition, we participate in pet festivals and events throughout the year. The event calendar on our website is the best source of current information. rats

KRL: What is your website URL, and FB and Twitter details?

Any Rat Rescue:Website: www.anyratrescue.org
Facebook page: Any Rat Rescue (AZ) www.facebook.com/AnyRatRescuePage
We don’t maintain a Twitter account.

KRL: What are your most urgent needs right now and how can people help?

Any Rat Rescue:At all times, our most urgent needs are expanding our network of foster homes, and contributions to keep our medical fund robust and ready. For people in the Phoenix or Tucson area that are interested in becoming foster homes, please send us a note via info@anyratrescue.org. For those wishing to contribute, our PayPal address is info@anyratrescue[dot]org. And of course, we are always looking for loving, responsible adopters who want to bring pet rats into their homes and their hearts. For a list of adoptable rats, visit www.petfinder.com/pet-search?shelter_id=AZ173.

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

Any Rat Rescue:We’d like to encourage your readers to adopt rather than shop. Regardless of the type of animal companion they seek, there are adoptable animals all over the world waiting for homes. We encourage people to learn about the animal breed they are adopting so they are prepared to meet the physical, medical and emotional needs of the animal. For rats, that means adopt a same sex or neutered pair or a bonded cage-mate group. Know the medical issues that may crop up and do not hesitate to get the vet care. Pet rats will likely need to see a vet at some point during their short lifespan. If you can’t afford the vet, don’t get the pet. Likewise, model humane behavior for the young people in your lives. Commit to a companion animal for life, and teach responsible pet ownership. You will deeply enrich your life, and can perpetuate a positive impact on the lives of humans and animals for generations to come.

Check out more rat rescue profiles & other pet rat related articles and stories in our Rodent Ramblings section.

Diana Hockley is an Australian mystery author who lives in a southeast Queensland country town. She is the devoted slave of five ratties & usually finds an excuse to mention them in her writing, including her recent novel, The Naked Room. Since retiring from running a traveling mouse circus for 10 years, she is now the mouse judge for the Queensland Rat & Mouse Club shows. To learn more, check out her website.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 heather January 11, 2015 at 10:29am

wonderful article – thank you for sharing:)

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2 Mar Preston
Twitter: @YesMarPreston
January 12, 2015 at 7:55pm

I have cats and dogs. Diana assures me they can all live happily together. I’m not a ratlady yet but I know I will be in the future. Thank you for your work.
A recent post from Mar Preston: Mystery Conference Update – Bouchercon 2014My Profile

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3 Gerald Rennie
Twitter: @gw_rennie
January 13, 2015 at 3:24pm

Great article. Very informative and educational. I have lived with rats most of my life and it’s comforting to know they are getting the recognition and respect they deserve.

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