Twenty-one of the furry little critters were dumped Wednesday in front of a Glen Burnie pet store, and county Animal Control is now tasked with finding them new homes.
“Placing such a large number of rats may be difficult,” acknowledged Robin Small, the administrator of agency in Millersville. “Most people don’t think to come to Animal Control to get small animals.”
She said Animal Control received 47 so-called “fancy rats” in all of 2011, 17 in 2010 and 28 in 2009.
To encourage more adoptions, the rats are free to good – and approved – homes, Small said. A veterinarian also has volunteered to spay and neuter the animals for free.
“Time will tell. We’ve gotten some interest, but we still have 18 looking for homes,” she said.
According to Small, the rats -nine males and 12 females – were left in a box Wednesday morning outside the PetSmart at 24 Mountain Road in Glen Burnie.
“It was there when the staff walked up. We don’t know how long they were outside, but we don’t think it was long,” Small said, explaining the pack – sometimes referred to as a mischief – seemed warm and active to the store’s staff.
That said, she said the owner of the rats shouldn’t have left them outside like that.
“It’s better to admit you can’t care for an animal and take it to a shelter than abandon it,” Small said.
An employee of the store brought the rats inside, put them in a cage and called Animal Control, she said. Later that day, the rats were picked up and brought to Animal Control where they were examined and put up for adoption.
Small said there were several different kind of rats in the box, including a hairless one, a couple with big ears (Dumbos) and several with wavy fur (Rexes).
As of Friday, the agency had found homes for two of the rodents. Another rat had to be euthanized after his leg got stuck in a cage.
“We don’t like to see it happen, but unfortunately it does,” Small said.
For now, there is no plan to put down any of the remaining rats.
However, Small is hopeful to place them quickly.
“They are very social animals and we don’t have the time to play with them as much as we would like,” she said.