‘Horrific Infestation’ In Rat Rescue Gone Bad

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on May 28, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

Christine Bishop says her big rat problem began when someone dropped off some pet rats this winter. They had already colonized when she discovered them and quickly reproduced. Now, they’re homeless because Christine’s Critter Rescue Cafe has been condemned. (Photo via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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A self-professed “rat person” was scurrying Tuesday to find new homes for as many as 1,000 rats that had overrun her now-condemned residence and shelter in Michigan’s Fruitport Township.

The rats had reached infestation levels and were chewing through the walls of Christine’s Critter Cafe Rescue – which Christine Bishop operated from her home until it was condemned earlier this month – and were getting free, WZZM-TV and The Muskegon Chronicle/MLive.com report.

Bishop’s shelter began with good intentions about 18 years ago after she rescued a domestic pet rat that had been left behind in an aquarium when its owner moved.

“I was always a rat person,” Bishop told The Muskegon Chronicle in 2012. “Rats make wonderful pets.”

More rats came her way over the years, via channels like the Marquette Humane Society in northern Michigan, which was seeking a home for 17 female rats that had been used in research for a college grad student’s thesis on aggression.

It was this winter that rats became a big problem for Bishop.

Someone left a cage of domestic or pet rats outside her building. She didn’t discover them immediately, and by the time she did, “they had already colonized in several different places,” Bishop told WZZM. She tried to get birth control for the rodents, but was unsuccessful, she said.

“This is not (animal) abuse,” Bishop told The Muskegon Chronicle. “This is an unfortunate situation that I need help with.”

Also on Patch:

Bishop had been given until the end of the the day Tuesday to clear out of the home by the Fruitport building inspector who had condemned it – in part because of the rat infestation, but also because of the condition of the building.

Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem said officials became aware of the condition of the shelter from a citizen.

“Someone attempting to adopt a bird said we needed to rush over there because there is a horrific rat infestation,” Werschem told the TV station.

Bishop claims Werschem has has systematically targeted her with various code violations over the years. “It’s just one thing after another,” she said of an uneasy relationship dating back to 2012, when Bishop circulated an online petition supporting a variance that allowed her to continue her rescue operation.

But Werschem said Bishop is ignoring the provisions of the ordinance variance, which limited small animal populations to 80 and excluded cats. Inspectors reportedly found about a dozen cats on the property, as well as ducks and rabbits, which are allowed.

Muskegon Animal Control officials who executed a search warrant were “alarmed” at the situation – including “dead rats feeding on dead rats,” Werschem told The Muskegon Chronicle.

Officials estimated there were at least 1,000 rats living in cages and in colonies outside the structure – and that was just the rats in plain sight.

“You can’t see inside the walls,” Animal Control Officer Tiffany Peterson said.

Bishop told The Muskegon Chronicle that her shelter has been “an asset to the community.” She said she has helped adopt, rehabilitate and provide other services to about 4,300 animals over the Critter Cafe’s 18-year history.

Bishop “means well – she really does,” Peterson said, but she failed to follow requirements for state licensure of pet rescue operations.

“It’s just sometimes you get addicted to something and you lose control of the situation. … We’ve all tried to help her to make the situation better, not just for her, but for the animals,” Peterson told The Muskegon Chronicle.

The larger animals had been cleared from the property on Tuesday, and the rats will be captured in live traps and relocated in shelters, Peterson said.

On the shelter’s Facebook page, Bishop said she’s sorry she didn’t “measure up” to others’ expectations, but defended not killing any of the animals in her care.

Article source: https://patch.com/michigan/novi/horrific-infestation-rat-rescue-gone-bad-0

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