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For years I've been an advocate of not buying rats or any other type of animal from a pet store. First, there are tons of pets in need of homes at your local shelters, so adoption is a great alternative. Secondly, it is common practice for chain pet stores and even some locally owned ones to get their animals from some sort of mill. By now all of you have heard of a puppy mill and know what kind of atrocities happen at them. What most people don't know however, is that there are other types of mills or mass breeders that breed and sell animals such as birds, reptiles, rabbits, ferrets and rodents. These places supply the animals usually found at the pet stores you frequent. Not all, but a good portion of them.

Separate from the fact that many of these creatures have been bred for profit alone, and therefore are often sick and unsocialized, taking one of these animals home sends a clear message to the stores and the breeders; "money is to be made!" I'm not saying that feeder rats can't make a good pet or that they don't deserve the best homes possible. I truly wish that I could save every rat from a cruel and sad life. But buying rats and other animals that come from these mass breeders just perpetuates a grim reality for them and the millions more that will be bred because there's a market for this type of thing. For every rat that is purchased at a pet store, another is bred and put in its place.This may not seem like a big deal until you understand the gravity of what is really happening to the animals in these places. And this brings me to the point of why I'm writing this.

In mid December 2012, 18,000 rats and 600 reptiles were rescued after being taken out of one such breeding facility. They were then all euthanized because of the apalling conditions they were found in. Below is a statement that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), who conducted the two month investigation, sent us. You can also read more about what happened on their website.

 I must warn you however, that their posted video of what was happening to these animals is extremely disturbing, and I can't even bring myself to watch it after what others have said about it. So if you do watch it, please prepare yourself emotionally for what you will witness.

At this present time, the people behind this cruelty have yet to be charged for the animal neglect and abuse that they inflicted. PETA has created a petition to help bring these monsters to justice. Please take the time to go sign it. Almost 19,000 animals were left without a voice, and it's up to us as rat lovers to speak up for them! Go sign the petition.

I hope that you will reconsider getting your next rat from a pet store (unless it's through an adoption event). I understand the temptation and the desire to save them from being snake food. I have faced this decision myself. What you need to understand though, is that saving one rat just puts another in harm's way and your money is going straight to these mass breeders! Things won't change until we take a stand. I made the decision 10 years ago that I would no longer "adopt" a rat from a store. Instead I now adopt from a rat rescue and give homeless rats a second chance at a forever home. And because I know how hard it is to turn away from those sweet faces looking at you through the aquariums at the pet stores, I've come to a point where I almost have to avoid the stores all together. Maybe once or twice a year I go in to get something for my dogs, or buy bulk litter for my rats, but I have to avoid the small animal section altogether so as not to torment myelf. I have found it easier to buy the majority of my pet supplies online and The Crafty Rat has been a huge help with that. I hope that someday, there will be laws in place to keep mass breeding (not to be confused with reputable breeders who are trying to improve the health of rats) from ever happening, and that pet stores will only offer animals that have come from a local shelter.

 

Here is PETA's statement:

PETA RELEASES RESULTS OF UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION THAT PROMPTED SEIZURE OF LAKE ELSINORE REPTILES AND RODENTS
Subject of Sting—Involving Tens of Thousands of Suffering Rats, Sick and Dying Reptiles—Has History of Cruelty Going Back to 1985

 
Lake Elsinore, Calif. — Law-enforcement officials, who last week entered Lake Elsinore–based animal dealer Global Captive Breeders LLC (GCB), acted on evidence gathered during a two-month PETA undercover investigation that revealed severe neglect of and cruelty to animals on a massive scale. More than 18,000 rats and 600 reptiles were found suffering at the business. This rescue operation is the largest seizure of rats in U.S. history and the largest-ever seizure of animals in California. Video footage and photographs from PETA's investigation—the first images from inside GCB to be released—are available.
 
PETA's investigator documented a failure to provide animals with adequate space, food, and water; injured and sick animals deprived of veterinary care; and reptiles left to languish and die in filth-encrusted tubs, surrounded by their own waste and the maggot-ridden remains of other animals. GCB workers, including its manager, shot at rats with a BB gun, froze them alive, bludgeoned them with metal tongs and gun handles, and smashed them against hard surfaces in an attempt to kill them.
 
"GCB was a reeking hellhole for the rats, snakes, and other animals who were left to starve, drown, and die among the rotting corpses of other animals," says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. "The individuals responsible for this staggering cruelty must be prosecuted and banned from laying their hands on another animal."
 
When a team of veterinary experts from Animal Friends of the Valleys, PETA, the Marin Humane Society, the Colorado Reptile Humane Society, and others first entered GCB on December 12, they found thousands of suffering, dying, dead, and decomposing animals. An overwhelming stench of death, decay, and ammonia burned first responders' lungs and eyes as they found animal carcasses teeming with maggots, young rats confined by the hundreds to plastic containers without food or water, and mother rats confined with their newborn babies to drawers so small that the adults could not stand upright. Animals had drowned, and rats' bodies floated in flooded bins. Snakes and rats were also loose in the warehouse.
 
"By far, this is the most severe and large-scale single facility forcing animals to live in vile and horrific conditions that I have experienced in my nearly 30 years as an animal cruelty investigator," says Captain Cindy Machado, Marin Humane Society animal services director and an expert in investigations of cruelty to animals who assisted in coordinating and leading the response and investigative teams at GCB. "We found evidence of animals drowning; dying in enclosures; rotting and decaying in cages; living for days without water; deprived of simple, basic care; and living in high levels of contaminated air—by far exceeding the level of suffering we have ever encountered."
 
This is not PETA's first encounter with GCB owner and Orange County resident Mitch Behm. In the mid-'80s, when he was a college student, he videotaped himself throwing mice, rats, and rabbits into a bathtub with ferrets, who attacked and killed them. Behm admitted to conducting these unapproved "experiments" in part for his own "enjoyment," but the statute of limitations had expired by the time law-enforcement authorities discovered the video footage.
 
Broadcast-quality video footage from PETA's investigation is available upon request.
 
For more information, please visit PETA.org.