In August, the rescue received a number of emails about a local pet and produce store with serious concerns about animal welfare. Rachie and Chris popped down to the store on a day off to see for themselves what was happening, and whether support or education would be helpful or welcome.
Thankfully the business was keen to learn and resolve the welfare issues, but they also found something else:
There were three young female patchworks and one young male for sale, all with severe entropion. Their eyelids were curling inside out, forcing their eyelashes and fur to scratch against their eyeballs causing infection and scarring even from such a young age. Their eyes were crusted shut with porphyrin and they were obviously in a lot of pain.
After realising these patchworks would need to be euthanised, the store asked if the rescue could take them, promising to boycott patchworks and stop taking rats from ‘walk-in’ sellers.
One of the patchworks, Pidge, was a new mum to 16 babies! One of the baby girls that was surrendered also gave birth to 9 bubs the next day, adding to a large handful of patchworks surrendered by owners over the last few months who all have entropion.
Think about this for a second. These animals were for sale, and the new owners would have unknowingly been taking on not just an average $1000 surgery per rat, but a whole litter from the pregnant girls. And this is normal practice, at one of many pet stores in Brisbane, supplied by one of many unethical breeders. This is the current norm at pet and produce stores.
Fast forward to present day: Mumma Pidge and her brood are currently at the rescue gaining their strength for what needs to come next – surgery to correct the defective eyelids that bad breeding caused.
We’re proud to say we’ve never turned away a rat in need, but we need your support to ensure we’re able to help these patchwork rats with surgery, when the only other option is euthanasia.
The incredible team at Unusual Pet Vets Jindalee are willing to work with us on the massive and difficult task at such an incredibly reduced rate that the clinic is charging only what it needs to break even, but given the number of rats who need the surgery and the cost associated with each operation: we really need the support of the community to make this happen.
Every gift – large or small – will help us get each rat the life-saving surgery they need, which will enable them to live happy and healthy lives.
If you are in Australia, the best way to make a donation is via the rescue’s bank details:
Name: RRH Donations
Account number: 1108 1198
If you are based overseas, we are working on setting up a PayPal account to accept donations. *Coming soon* :)
Spread the word
Share #OperationPatchUp with your friends, family and colleagues to help these rats get the support they desperately need. We also have some shareable social media assets that you can use to promote #OperationPatchUp even further. Download them here
Mumma Pidge and her family present a much bigger conversation we need to have as a community. It’s one about researching and educating ourselves as owners. One about seeking out the breeders who are going above and beyond to do what is ethical and right for this type of rat. One about making sure that if you do purchase a patchwork, you are prepared to fund the immense costs to treat entropion or meet any other medical needs that often occur in patchworks. Mumma Pidge, her beans and so many more like them need that from us.
We knew this was coming 18 months ago when we noticed a sudden flood of highly inbred entropion patchworks from a local breeder, which were being snatched up and immediately bred for profit as a ‘rarity’ by unethical suppliers all around the SEQ area. We have been working hard behind the scenes to mentor and educate breeders all this time, and will continue to do so, but there will always be those who – for whatever motivation – will continue to knowingly breed and sell sickly animals, so we need the public to push back and stem the flow of entropion patchworks before we drown under what would otherwise be a futile and bankrupting task.