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30.06.06 09:39

18637 Postings, 6730 Tage jungchenLecker Haustiere gefaellig?

1,300 rats overwhelm man's home
Thursday, June 29, 2006; Posted: 11:20 p.m. EDT (03:20 GMT)

PETALUMA, California (AP) -- A man who had 1,300 rats removed from his home by animal control officers said that he originally bought several as pets, but that they were "a force of nature" that soon bred out of control.

Roger Dier, who was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty, told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, that depression and loneliness kept him from controlling his fast-breeding population of pet rats.

"I did not set out to do this," he told newspaper. "I do acknowledge irresponsibility and there's a case for laziness, denial, incompetence and just plain foolishness."

"It was this force of nature that overwhelmed me," he said.

It started four years ago when Dier bought a baby rat to feed his pet Indian python, he told the newspaper. When he saw the creature squeaking for its life, he did not have the heart to let it become a snack, he said.

"I couldn't stand it," he said. "I took the rat out of the cage and got to know it."

After that, Dier was hooked on the rodents, which he described as gentle, lovable and an endless source of entertainment. He later bought four more at the pet store -- but did not think to spay or neuter them, the paper reported.

The infestation at his home was not Dier's first encounter with a rat pack.

In 1963, his Culver City apartment was used as a hideout by two of three men who were later convicted of kidnapping Frank Sinatra Jr., son of the legendary Rat Pack crooner. Dier said he later served two prison terms for an unrelated weapons charge and armed robbery.

Dier's house in a quiet middle-class neighborhood in Petaluma reeks of urine, and the floor is covered with the feed mixed with rat droppings, and gnawed walls, according to The Press Democrat.

When animal control officers arrived after a neighbor called about a foul smell, they found some rats stacked six deep in cages so overcrowded that many had missing eyes and limbs.

Most of the rats have been euthanized, some because they were too sick or injured and others because they weren't socialized well enough to be adopted, Nancee Tavares, manager of Petaluma Animal Services.

Rat lovers have expressed outrage at the euthanizations, but Tavares said the pace of adoptions have gone too slow to expect all the rats to find homes. As of Thursday, only 12 of the rodents had gotten new owners, while different shelters and animal rescue groups promised to take about 30 off the agency's hands.  

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