Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico

Nov 16, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Diana Hockley, Rodent Ramblings

by Diana Hockley

Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico was founded by Chuck and Cherie Jones. We recently had the chance to chat with them about what they do for these wonderful tiny creatures.

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

TT: In August 2010, Cherie married her husband Chuck, a New Mexico resident, and relocated to Albuquerque from Southern California. Soon after Cherie’s arrival in Albuquerque with her pet cats and rats, she started looking for a vet for them. Finding a vet for the cats was easy, but not for the rats. During Cherie’s search for a rat vet, her rat Simon became very ill and she began to panic. Hoping for a referral to a rat vet from a local rat rescue, Cherie called countless animal shelters asking for the name and phone number of a rat rescue, but none of the shelters were aware of any. Still without a lead to a rat vet, Cherie called about 40 vet clinics before finally being referred to one. She called the clinic and pleaded with them to see Simon right away, but the vet was unavailable until the next day morning. All that night, Cherie held Simon close while blood continuously dripped from his mouth. The next day at the vet clinic, an x-ray of Simon revealed an enlarged heart, but moments after the x-ray Simon passed away. Help had come too late for Simon. Later, after verifying that there were no rat rescues in all of New Mexico, Cherie and Chuck founded Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico, dedicated to the memory of Simon whose photo appears in their logo.

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

TT: Tiny Toes operates out of the residence of Chuck and Cherie Jones.

Chuck and Cherie Jones home and rat rescue

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

TT: For the time being, Tiny Toes accepts only rats, but hopes it can accept other small animals in the future as the needs arise. Tiny Toes can accept only as many rats as space and foster homes allows. Tiny Toes operates out of the family room in the Jones’ residence, but since it is at capacity, three cages have overflowed to an area in their kitchen. Tiny Toes has only one foster home available and that home is closed to additional intakes. It is Chuck and Cherie’s prayer that they will never have to turn rats away for any reason.

KRL: Do the local authorities support you?

TT: Tiny Toes does not receive financial support from any authorities, but has received recognition by the press, and referrals for adoption by veterinarians and shelters. One animal shelter that Tiny Toes frequently saves rats from will now provide free sterilization services for the male rats they transfer to Tiny Toes.

Tiny Toes rescue

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

TT: For the most part, the local community doesn’t even know that Tiny Toes exists. When you consider that the vast majority of people don’t consider domesticated rats to be pets, because of myths associated with them, it would be inconceivable to these people that there are rescues dedicated to the care of rats. In general, people consider small pets like rats, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, degus, and sugar gliders to be disposable – certainly not good pets. And, of these small animals, it is the misunderstood little rat that has the worst reputation of all, due in part to the way the media and film industry demonizes them. It is only those people who either wish to adopt or surrender rats that find their way to Tiny Toes. Very few people have supported Tiny Toes financially. Nearly all of Tiny Toes’ support comes from the personal income of Chuck Jones.

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

TT: At the present time Tiny Toes has no volunteers and is operated solely by Chuck and Cherie. Recruiting volunteers is very difficult for the very reasons outlined in answer #6. Tiny Toes desperately needs volunteers, but has been unable to find any.

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

TT: Like most animal rescues, Tiny Toes does not depend on donations from the public because if it did, all rats in the rescue would literally starve to death or die of untreated health problems. Tiny Toes is supported almost exclusively by Chuck’s personal income, but this income doesn’t cover both Tiny Toes’ and the Jones’ personal expenses. The Jones’ do without many of life’s necessities in order to support Tiny Toes. There is no such thing as going on vacation, on outings or even out to dinner. Unfortunately, donations are very few and far between, but desperately needed. Donations may be made via PayPal for the email address tinytoesrats@aol[dot]com and checks/money orders payable to Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico may be mailed to Post Office Box 67571, Albuquerque, NM 87193.

Chuck and Cherie Jones

KRL: Are there any special challenges to rescuing rats?

TT: Yes indeed. Unfortunately, rats only live 2-4 years so it means a lot of repeatedly broken hearts for those who love and keep them. Rats are also prone to many health problems, chiefly respiratory infections and mammary tumors, which means a lot of vet bills. Rescuing rats is also financially draining so people who do it must get used to endless personal sacrifice like doing without meals now and then, going without new clothing even though it’s needed, etc. Tiny Toes’ vet bill has been as high as $1,500.00 for just one month and the food bill is about $600.00 each month. There are many other expenses as well. In reviewing Tiny Toes’ financial report for last month’s Board Meeting, it was reported that our expenses for period September 29 through October 30, 2013 were $1,592.08. And, remember, nearly all of it is paid for with the personal finances of the Jones. When we say we “desperately” need help, it is meant quite literally.

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

TT: Tiny Toes has taken in 213 rats since it was formed in August 2010.

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

TT: Yes indeed. Tiny Toes will be doing gift-wrapping for donations of customer purchases at Barnes and Noble’s Cottonwood location in Albuquerque from November 29 through Christmas Eve. On Tiny Toes’ Facebook page, Tiny Toes T-shirts are being sold for a small profit as well as holiday ornaments. Due to the 28 shifts we are working during this time period and the cold weather no adoption events are currently scheduled.

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

TT: Facebook page under: Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico
Website: www.tinytoesratrescue.org
Email: Tinytoesrats@aol[dot]com

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

TT: Yes to both. In June 2013, Chuck and Cherie drove to Prescott, Arizona to receive nine rats from a hoarder when Arizona based rat rescues were unable to help. And, in September 2013, Cherie and Laura (a Board Member) drove to California to receive 50 rats from a California rat rescue assisting with a major hoarding case involving about 700 rats.

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

TT: Tiny Toes’ most urgent needs are good adoptive homes for rats, donations, and volunteers. People interested in adopting rats will find the Application for Adoption of Rats and Rat Adoption Contract forms on our website with instructions on what to do with them. People interested in volunteering with find the Volunteer Application and Volunteer Liability Waiver forms on our website with instructions on what to do with them. Again, people interested in making a donation may do so via PayPal for the email address tinytoesrats@aol[dot]com and checks/money orders payable to Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico may be mailed to Post Office Box 67571, Albuquerque, NM 87193.

Another TT rescue

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

TT: Chuck and Cherie Jones are also the proud parents of Lucie the German Shepherd, Libbie the black Lab and five cats named Abbie, Baylie, Chloe, Dexter, and Edward. All are rescues.

As challenging and exhausting as Tiny Toes Rat Rescue is for Chuck and Cherie Jones, they deeply believe in the work they’re doing for animals. There are so many animals in need of help because of many variables like pet overpopulation caused by people irresponsibly breeding, whether intentionally or because they neglected to have their animals sterilized. When animals are in need most people look the other way and don’t want to get involved, yet expect someone else to. But why must it be someone else? Why not them? Needy animals are everyone’s responsibility. Hopefully, we are doing our part. It is what Simon would want.

The motto of Tiny Toes is “just because they’re tiny doesn’t mean they’re disposable.”

You can find more rat stories & articles 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.


  1. WONDERFUL ARTICLE…….impossible to fully articulate the lovely people that Cherie and her husband are and how loving and gentle to their babies, one and all……

  2. Hello, Chuck and Cherie! I loved reading about Tiny Toes! I live in Michigan where I have no rats, currently. I’ve vowed to wait until after I retire to house any more. It is too heartbreaking to lose them every two to three years. (My longest-lived rat was my very first. Sigmund Alexander. Who lived to be just beyond three.)
    Bless you for what you do. It’s nice to know that there are those who care out there about ALL of God’s creatures!


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