A few days before Christmas, a community member was utilizing the trails at the North Shields Ponds natural area in Fort Collins when they encountered a group of rats. One after another, these cold, hungry creatures ran up to them seeking food and warmth. Because of their sweet and fearless demeanor, the good Samaritans knew these rats had to be someone’s pet and weren’t the wild rats you’d find in sewers. They followed where the helpless creatures were coming from and found a pile of about 30 rats and called our Animal Protection & Control team for help.
That evening we sent out an officer in the dark to catch as many of these little critters as he could. We were able to safely catch 28 rats at this one natural area before the already below freezing temperatures dropped even lower. The next a different community member was utilizing the Riverbend Ponds Natural Area, more than 15 miles away from the North Shields Ponds, and she saw unusual tracks in the snow. She followed the tracks and discovered more than 40 rats huddled together in the brush next to the frozen pond. She too called Animal Protection & Control for help. We dispatched a second officer on this cold December day to help rescue the helpless critters that were left to fend for themselves.
Officer Downs, equipped with some peanut butter cookies his daughter made him, began to lure the rats out of the brush. One by one the rats began to seek out rescue. With the help of a Good Samaritan and Natural Area Rangers, more than 50 rats were brought to safety and taken to Larimer Humane Society for a second chance.
Once in our care, the rats were separated by males and females, given warm, comfortable cages and received a medical exam from our veterinary staff to make sure they were healthy. We held the rats in isolation to ensure they weren’t carrying any diseases. Once we were sure they were healthy and would thrive in a loving new home, they became available for adoption.
We are lucky to live and work in such a pet-friendly and compassionate community. We received an outpouring of support from our community wanting to donate, volunteer to help or adopt one (or more) of these critters. We are happy to report that all of the rats in our care have either been transferred to partner organizations for adoption or have been adopted out by loving new family’s right here in Northern Colorado.
While these rats were lucky to get a second chance thanks to the actions of compassionate and informed community members, what happened to these rats is animal cruelty and we are still looking for the individual(s) responsible. If you have any information on this case please contact Animal Protection & Control at 970.226.3647 ext.