Whats involved in running a rescue?

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Jimi+Milo
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Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Jimi+Milo » Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:32 pm

Its something I've been pondering recently, not for anytime soon as I dont have enough space, time or funds currently but I'm considering it as a possibility for the future. So I have a few questions :) .

Obviously its important to have funds available before hand for vet trips etc so what sort of amount would be ideal?

I realise you need seperate air space so there would have to be a quarantine area, how does that work if you have rats already in quarantine and then take on more that require quarantine? Would you need another seperate air space?

Is there a certain number of cages that is ideal to begin with, or does it just depend on how many rescues you end up taking in?

Do rescues usually run as a charity or are they just a personal thing?

I cant remember what other things I was wanting to ask now, so any other information on running a rescue would be much appreciated :D
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by stormsmuggler » Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:46 pm

I'm not an official rescue as such, although I seem to have become one having now had 4 lots of rats passed onto me via my vet and of course the park rat rescue. I can give you details on the latter.
When Chelsea arrived with the babies (muffins) obviously she needed a maternity cage, 4 and 1/2 weeks later she needed a cage for her and the baby girls and the boys needed another suitable one. So far 3 cages (fortunately I had these already as I had upgraded cages gradually and kept them all. The parkies presented another cage dilema, boys needed one big enough for 5 and with 6 out of 7 of the girls being pregnant I suddenly needed a few birthing low level cages.Thank you to members on this forum these were donated to me. I was lucky in that the girls were fostered out before babies needed splitting otherwise I'd have needed even more cages, with 42 babies arriving all at once, one for girls and one for boys wouldn't have been enough :o As it was at one point with my own rats too, I had 8 cages to clean out (one of my own cages being a twin explorer) and 83 rats. I am grateful to those who made donations and to Kathy and John from Rat Rations who were unbelievably kind :hearts: What with meds/ABs, bedding, nesting material, substrate, food etc then petrol money to take the girls to their fosterers I put out nearly £500 with just that one rescue. Together Amy and I have managed to get hold of a few cages either with rats or without and have a bit of a stock pile should anything like this happen again. At one point I was worried that if I couldn't find fosterers or new homes for everyone, how would I cope with all these mouths to feed and babies to socialise etc, what would happen if they all became ill at once or at 6 months all the boys needed neutering.
As for quarantine I am lucky in that I have an extension on my house which has 4 doors between and a long corridor where the bathroom is. I also have a detatched garage and shed and at the time had a new build house next door which at the time wasn't occupied. With out these things, if another rat had needed help I would weigh up the risks to my own rats and to the parkies and make a decsision based on vet advice and rat condition but I would not leave that rat to the hands of fate possible pts. Fortunately i now know that a rescue centre close to me would take in and help rehome if needed although they are not rat savvy people and would need advice.
I have now been typing so long that I have forgotten your other questions :oops:
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Amzy » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:00 pm

I plan to have my own 'rescue' in the future, although I do alot of fostering, rehoming and rescue now, although I do not have a name, and do not call myself a rescue at present.

Because I am planning to have a rescue in the future I am starting to collect cheap and free cages to build up my stock pile which include (tanks, mary and ruffy for birthing and a freddy, furet plus, jenny and half a mini brio). I am aiming to keep my foster cages at furet plus/freddy sized cages as they are easy to clean, and can be kitted out nicely. At present I can feasibly cater for 3 groups of rescues/fosters at once.... and even with 3 groups of fosters it starts to get expensive. I had a call from the vets 6 weeks ago about 3 rats found under a shed. 6 weeks later and they are still with me, with little interest in any home offers, they have had a 2 week course of ABs and all the associated living costs with substrate/food etc. I have had Winston and Churchill since the end of April. I had to have them both neutered but luckily the NERS rescue fund helped with that. Churchy hopefully has home lined up, and Winston will be staying with me. I had 2 girls come in 3 weeks ago, and one had to be PTS.

So even with my 3 current groups you can see how there has been a financial strain on all 3 groups. You also need to take into account petrol costs of travelling rats to their new homes.

Re: Q'tine.
I am lucky that I am q'tine at Raz's as we do the majority of our rescue work together. However I do not have a suitable q'tine space at my house and I came unstuck when the vets called about the rats under the shed whom the rspca had taken to my vets. At that point it was pretty much take the rats, or they will suffer or even be PTS (since taking them, the RSPCA man hasnt contacted me - for all he knew I could be using them to feed my python). I to wonder how large rescues feasibly q'tine using different air space, and what happens when a new rat comes in.

You also need to know your own limit. I know that when doing the park rescue my own rats suffered as I had rats to catch, babies to socialise and 3 month old rats who had never been handled by a hooman in their life. I could not permanently have a rescue with a vast quantity like the park rescue cos my own girls suffered from it.

I do rescue off my own back, and apart from the NERS helping with the neuters I have plowed my own money into it... and at present I have not asked for a donation towards the rats because I am just glad that the rats have gone to a lovely forever home. You also need to bare in mind that the rats might not get homes.... if it wasnt for midnight rose Churchy wouldnt have a home... the shed boys have had little interest and the 2 foster girls I had also had no interest... but that might be because I am in an awkward location.

Essay over!
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Betterstar » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:35 pm

I'm not a rescue, but it's something I've considered (and decided against).
I realise you need seperate air space so there would have to be a quarantine area, how does that work if you have rats already in quarantine and then take on more that require quarantine? Would you need another seperate air space?
It's not always possible to quarantine. If you have a separate air space or know someone willing who likes rats but doesn't keep any then that would be ideal, but sometimes you have to take calculated risks. If I'm going to be taking rats directly from their owners I wouldn't take them from a hoarding or breeding situation, and I always ask about their health before picking them up - making sure the owner is aware what constitutes a poorly rat. I have a couple of times made people take their rat to a vet (preferably the vet I use) before agreeing to take it. Having said that, people do lie and some people genuinely aren't aware that their rat is unwell. When fostering for other rescues I'll only take rats from people I completely trust, and use rats trains I trust. I do feel like I'm pushing my luck every time we take a rat from an "unknown" source, and it's not something I like to do.
Obviously its important to have funds available before hand for vet trips etc so what sort of amount would be ideal?

Is there a certain number of cages that is ideal to begin with, or does it just depend on how many rescues you end up taking in?
This all depends on what kind of scale you're planning on working with. As Amy said you need to know your limits, to know a maximum number of cages/rats/whatever you're comfortable with and be prepared to turn rats down when you're full. If I was going to rescue officially I'd probably want an Explorer, a medium sized flat packable cage and a birthing/hospital cage or two.
Do rescues usually run as a charity or are they just a personal thing?
To apply to become a charity you have to have an "income" (through donations or your own money) of at least £5000 a year (I believe that's the figure anyhow..), you need to keep proper records and have trustees. Most of the small rescues on here aren't charities and are funded mainly by the person running them.

Other things to think about:
I think becoming an "offical" rescue makes people wanting rid of animals view you as a service, and they will treat you like it's your job. It's much easier to say no when you're just fostering and people are less likely to treat you like poo if you say no/ask them to wait because you are doing them a favour.
Don't underestimate the impact it'll have on your own rats. An extra cage of normal rats takes up enough of your time.. an extra cage of rats who potentially have behaviour problems, health problems, etc will take up a lot more time! Talking to potential homes is tiring, and it can be heartbreaking when homes fall through or the rats simply have no interest.. it can be difficult to just sit down and appreciate your own rats after all that.
Be prepared to end up keeping everything old/broken and/or grumpy.
Practice saying no, you will have to say it a lot! Saying no to potential homes always feels the worst, but you do sometimes have to do it.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Betterstar » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:53 pm

I realise you need seperate air space so there would have to be a quarantine area, how does that work if you have rats already in quarantine and then take on more that require quarantine? Would you need another seperate air space?

I realised I didn't really answer this question! I guess in fantasy land you would have a two quarantine spaces.. but in reality I think you would try to keep a week or so between rats from new sources and if need be (assuming they're well) move rats out early as new ones come in, while somehow keeping them separate to your main rescue space. Or, if you know the second group are going to be the last group you're taking for a while, keep them in there for the length of the second groups QT.
Sian & Boojum, Minnow, Poot, Esme, Oak, Burdock, Ptarmigan, Blunder and Jacques.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Jimi+Milo » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:09 pm

Thats really helpful and you've given me a lot to think about, thank you guys :D

I dont think I could do it on a really big scale, I think having upwards of about 40/50 on a regular basis would be incredibly stressful. It wouldnt be the financial side or the work involved that'd put me off, I just dont think I'd have enough time to do everything and do it well, I also cant see me having a house big enough for atleast 2 seperate airspaces - I wouldnt want to use my kitchen or dining room etc because I'd be worried someone would go in there and not realise. I think theres a lot more to it than I thought :oops: . I'll still think about it but maybe I'd be better doing as you 3 are and leaving the idea of running a rescue for much further in the future :) !
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Amzy » Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:14 pm

It doesn't have to be on a large scale. You could always offer to foster a couple of rats for someone who has a rescue, and can feasibly q'tine for you.... or could a friend ratsit some fosters for a couple of weeks? You could even see if a local rescue centre would let you foster some rats :) You could then experience of socialising and rehoming some fosters, and get an idea what it feels like. Some people have small scale foster rats and not massive rescues. I know down here the RSPCA don't take rats - which is why they end up contacting us.

I started out by fostering a few waifs and strays (not literally but my first proper foster was for the RSPCA), and rehomed them.I then got a bit more heavily involved when I helped with park rats which is really what taught and educated me about the highs and lows of rescue
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Neotoma » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:44 am

I think the knowing your own limits thing is very very very important - and recognising that there is a stage where you have to say no. It's also important to be able to step back and assess what you are actually doing, objectively (or get someone you trust, but who will be brutally honest if necessary).

One of my boys came off a lady who was 'rescuing' and I don't doubt in her own mind she had the best intentions - she wasn't in anyway a bad person, or a cruel person, and she honesty thought she was doing her best for her animals. But it had spiralled completely out of control, and the rats (not sure of numbers tbh) were living in filthy conditions and some had serious health problems - just because she couldn't keep up with the number of animals she had. She wasn't a hoarder in the conventional sense, as she advertised my boy and a few other difficult ones for rehoming, and once we'd seen what was going on, the friend who'd made the initial contact was able to talk her into giving up most of the rest for adoption via a few people on here. And her initial set up wasn't bad - the shed could have been a bit better insulated, but the original cages were good and big, and originally good quality. But she'd not been able to say no, numbers had got out of control (I suspect there may have been some accidental litters), and she just couldn't cope. But... she also couldn't either realise or admit that she couldn't cope, that her conditions had deteriorated to the level that animals have to be rescued from, and that the rats weren't actually better off being taken in by her.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by cookielucylou » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:17 am

I definitely agree about being prepared for keeping some long term through them not finding homes. I took in 11 boys nearly 2 years ago now, and none of them found homes I still have a few but they are rather elderly now. More recently I took in 5 baby girls and 2 adult boys none of which have had any interest so looks like I will be making permanent space for them soon.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Amzy » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:35 am

I thought I'd have had interest in my rescues prior to the end of my tennancy (in 3 weeks) so I had to either find fosterers (which I have done) or find somewhere happy to let me bring them. Luckily I've found somewhere which is rat friendly and doesn't mind more than 1 cage :D It just kind of shows that you need to be able to cater for longer term residents if needed.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by cookielucylou » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:07 am

Definetly Amzy. I do have space here for the extra 7 I have or I wouldnt have taken them in the first place, but I would prefer them to be in a pet home where they have smaller rat numbers.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Jimi+Milo » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:25 am

Its really good to learn all this, I know I often see ratties in the rehoming section stay there for a while and some end up closed to be kept but I guess I never really thought of the impact that has on the rescues. So its not necessarily that more rescues are needed, its more people rehoming? Maybe I should do that instead, I cant for a while yet though because things are a bit hectic and I dont have enough space for it yet either.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by aimlessdesire » Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:02 pm

It's not only, in my view, about not stretching yourself in terms of the number you currently have, what about those that get returned, no good rescue should refuse to take back the rats that they have homed so you need to make sure you can accomdate those as well.

I found the worse thing with rescuing, and to some extent the same is true of breeding, is dealing with people. The people you get the rats from, those who want to home them etc. I found with rescuing people wanted to get cute rats from the other end of the country and then just expected someone else to arrange transport to their doorstep without contributing a single penny to the cost involved. I lost count of the amount of time that I spent just travelling to pick up / drop rats off, and on more than one occasion I had rat trains go wrong, and rats ended up effectively stranded for longer than expected somewhere. I know refuse to use rat trains, which somehow as a breeder seems to be more acceptable, but when rescuing it felt like it was almost the only way to get the rats homed, and like Lucy I would rather the rats were in a home with a small number of other rats and receiving a lot more attention, than in my rat room with 30 plus rats.

My attitude with rescuing after a well became, could I keep these rats for the rest of their lives. If the answer was yes, then I took them, if it was no, then I had to weigh up the risk that they wouldn't find a home. Neutered bucks and kittens are generally pretty easy to rehome, especially if you take lots of photos etc, adult groups on the other hand are harder and you do run the risk that 6 months down the line you'll still have them.

I do think people should charge for rescues, especially if you are a rescue rather than an individual who takes in the odd rat on occasions. If you don't, then it becomes very expensive, especially if the rat needs vet treatment or netuering, the cost of neutering something like 6 bucks in 2 months was part of the reason I stopped. I know the NERS rescue fund is there and will cover some costs. If you don't feel you can ask for the money for yourself to cover costs, then ask for a donation to NERS rescue fund.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by SargentEllie » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:01 pm

Neotoma wrote:I think the knowing your own limits thing is very very very important - and recognising that there is a stage where you have to say no.
I agree. One of the worst rescues I have been involved in was from a "rescue" well meaning person but had taken on way to much. I have seen it time and time again on this forum where people get a lot of rats in a short space of time and then cant cope. I am not saying that will be you, I am sure yu will be great but I would say just start slow, with a few fosterings for another rescue and see how much you can cope with and if its for you. As much as I love helping rats I find the homing very stressful, making sure they all go to the right homes. Which is one of the reasons I havent been fostering much recently.

Obviously money is an issue as well and vet bills can be huge. The same rescue I mentioned earlier probably cost me personally over £1000. I had a couple of very expensive operations and numerous other vet bills plus of course all the petrol in taking them to their new homes.
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Re: Whats involved in running a rescue?

Post by Jemma » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:19 pm

I’ve never been a rescue myself but I would strongly recommend talking / visiting Cynthia at Manchester rodent rescue. She’s probably the biggest local rat rescue I know and a very helpful lovely person. She would happily talk to you about rescueing I’m sure, and if you’re thinking of going down the fostering route she may be a good person to keep in touch with, as I know she always has loads of rats around, she probably will have some that need that little bit more individual attention a smaller foster home could offer.

I will say I’ve thought about this a few times myself and realised that I’m not prepared to massively increase my numbers long term as I value that relationship you can get with a small number of rats. What I do do though is act as a half way house (fosterer really lol but never had to do it long) to people around me if they need to, or have a good list of contacts and be aware of people looking for rats in the area. It works for me and I must say I enjoyed the bit of rescueing/fostering I did and would do it again as needed. I’m also lucky in that I have a garage I can temporarily store rats in as a separate airspace and 2 lovely parents who are ratless but prepared to act as a quarantine for me if needed. Having a few friends around that could do that would help and minimise the risk to your own rats.
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