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This show is dedicated to World Rat Day, which occurs on April 4th! 🐀 🐀
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Human Rat Companions Share Stories of Rescue, Love and the Sentience of Rats
For this special Rat Appreciation Show, we are honoured to bring to you live in-studio guests who all have a special place in their hearts for the rats they call their friends. Magda Romanow, Gerald Rennie, and Veronicka Salixx are human rat companions, and in this round table discussion, they share with us their personal stories of how rats came into their lives, and how their lives (and the lives of their rats) have been enriched by their special human-rat relationships. We also have a special furry friend on the show named Hikari!
Gerald Rennie resides in Maple Ridge and has had rats for most of his adult life, and even published a few books about rats! His first book is entitled “The Rat Worshipper, in the nick of time”, and is a brief biography about his lifelong experiences with rats. He has also published a two-part science fiction story entitled “The Rat Chronicles” that was inspired by his rats, and the dream he had that led to its existence.
He has been a lifelong rat advocate, and has been inspired by rat community groups such as RatsPacNW. He believes that rats are remarkable, intelligent, social and sentient creatures that deserve our respect and admiration, for they are so versatile in what they can offer as wonderful animals companions.
Magda Romanow is 45 years old and has two human children and quite a few fur children. She is the President and Founder of Katie’s Place Animal Shelter, and also volunteers weekly at Hearts on Noses Pig Sanctuary. She became involved with animal rights issues while attending university, and volunteered for the organizations Lifeforce and Greenpeace.
Her first rat companion was in her early 20s, and it did not take her long to fall in love with these adorable creatures. Since then, she has had many rat companions over the years. The majority have been from rescues, and she firmly believes in the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” ideology. Currently, she fosters rats for The Small Animal Rescue Society (SARS), and is a guardian of two rats of her own. She thinks that rats are amazing companions and are completely misunderstood.
Veronicka’s first introduction to rats was at age 21, with a friend who had a couple of companion rats. At the time, Veronicka wasn’t too fond of rats, due to cultural stigma. But then over the years, she came across rats and mice that had been poisoned at a trap at her workplace. After guiding several into the afterlife and burying them in a ceremonial manner, returning their dignity, a fondness for their tender and vulnerable lives sprouted.
After many years, she finally decided she wanted to honour the lives of those rodents by adopting some to care for and nurture. Her life has been forever changed. Although she once thought this day would never come, she is now a devoted rat person. Follow Veronicka and her rats on Instagram @embrace_the_mystery.
Lizzy O’Sullivan on Ratapalooza and SARS Rescue
Lizzy O’Sullivan has been a rat advocate for the last 52 years, when she rescued her first group of rats from a laboratory at age 15. Since then, she has been extremly active in the rat companion communities, having hosted a “Ratstravangza” rat education and appreciation event here in BC, and volunteering in rat rescue for The Small Animal Rescue Society (SARS).
In this interview, she tells us about Ratapalooza, another rat education and appreciation community event taking place on April 1st in Seattle, which she will be tabling at for SARS.
She also tells us her experiences in the rat companion and rescue/advocacy community, and about how you can foster and adopt rats in need. Please visit the SARS website for more information.
Dr. Joanna Makowska on the Welfare of Rats in Laboratories
Dr. Joanna Makowska has a PhD in Applied Animal Biology from the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia. Last year, she led a study on the behavior of lab rats, which was published in Royal Society Open Science. The purpose of this study was to determine the importance of natural behaviors of rats, such as burrowing, climbing and standing upright, in a laboratory setting, where they are kept in standard lab-sized cages.
Some scientists think that rats bred specifically for lab use in research facilities have had their natural instincts bred out of them. In this interview, we learn about Joanna’s findings, and her recommendations for how she thinks rats should be treated in the paradigm of a laboratory setting.
The Huffington Post also reported on this study last year, and you can find that article here.