Progress

This page will report the progress we make toward reaching our goals.

The Beginning

The idea for the Rat Assistance & Teaching Society (R.A.T.S.) started in 2002. Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun, founder of The Rat Fan Club, wanted to expand the goals of the club to educate not just rat owners, but the pet care professionals who funnel pet care information and attitudes to rat owners: veterinarians, pet shop staff, and animal shelters. "Rat owners are willing to search out information about rat care," said Debbie, "and are even willing to pay for this information. But pet care professionals may not have the time to search for information or be willing to pay for it. The best way to educate these people is to send information directly to them."

Because sending information to pet care professionals costs money, Debbie decided to start a new non-profit group to hopefully take advantage of grant money that might be available. Non-profit status also makes donations tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

The Formative Steps

The first step was to form a corporation. To choose a name for the organization, Debbie "The Rat Lady" appealed to the members of The Rat Fan Club. The name Rat Assistance & Teaching Society was finally chosen through a contest. A contest was also held to find a logo for R.A.T.S. The winning designer was RFC member Jussi Maugle of Upper Black Eddy, PA.

Next Debbie approached several active Rat Fan Club members in northern California to see if they would be interested in being on the board of directors for the new non-profit. Seven members agreed and created and filed the paperwork (Articles of Incorporation and By-laws) to register R.A.T.S. as a corporation in the state of California. Next, the paperwork to file for tax-exempt status with both California and the federal government was filled out and sent in. In May 2003 we received our official tax-exempt status!



Plans for Future Programs

(A checkmark in front of an item indicates it has been done. Some items will need to be done multiple times.) 

Pet Shops

Make brochures promoting rats as pets and their proper care available to pet shops to hand out.
Develop care sheets for pet shops to hand out.
Send rat care information to pet shops on request.
Place ads in pet trade magazines to inform pet shop personnel that this information is available.
Rent a booth at national pet industry conventions to give out information to pet shop owners and managers.

Veterinary Hospitals

Place ads in veterinary magazines to inform hospital staff that information about rats, specifically Debbie's Rat Health Care booklet, is available.
Rent a booth at veterinary conferences to give out and sell information to veterinarians and veterinary staff.

Contact publishers of veterinary books and magazines to correct wrong information and add new information.

Contact veterinary schools to get rat information to students.

Animal Shelters

Write guidelines for rat care at the shelter.
Develop suggested policies for taking in and adopting out pet rats.

Contact shelters to send them this information.

Create a publicity campaign shelters can use to increase adoptions of pet rats.
Rent a booth at shelter industry conferences to give out information to shelter personnel.

 

Program Updates

March 2017 - We sign up to buy a monthly ad about Debbie's Rat Health Care booklet in Veterinary Product News magazine for a whole year.
 
January 2017 - We start contacting veterinary schools to find students interested in receiving free copies of Debbie's Rat Health Care booklet, and begin sending them out. By May, we send out 219 booklets.
 
February 2016 - We buy a small ad in Veterinary Product News magazine to tell readers of Debbie Ducommun's Rat Health Care booklet. This issue will not only go to regular subscribers, but also attendees of a Veterinary Conference.
 
October 2015 - Donations have been down all year and we are short on funds, so sadly we have to cancel our ad in Pet Business magazine.
 
May 2015 - We change our ad in Pet Business magazine to promote the new HOHP Facebook group, encouraging pet shops to take the pledge.
 
March 2015 - Once again we buy a half-page ad in the annual Pet Guide magazine published by USA Today and design it like an article to tell snake owners they do not need to buy live rodents to feed to their snakes. This time we include the info about the new HOHP Facebook group.
 
January 2015 - We set up a new Facebook group called Herp-Owners Humane Pledge (HOHP) to encourage owners of herps (reptiles and amphibians) to take the pledge to only feed humanely-killed prey to their pets whenever possible. The page will also feature a list of pet shops that follow the pledge, so customer can help support these forward-thinking businesses.
 
January 2015 - All throughout 2014 our President and founder, Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun worked on writing out suggestions for correcting errors and updating information in the rat section of a book called Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal, Second Edition, Barbara L. Oglesbee. 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. She was able to find four veterinarians who agreed with her suggestions and sent letters to the editor in support. These veterinarians are Dr. Chelsea McAnnaly, from Allen, TX, Dr. Heather Kuhne from Berkeley, CA, Pamela Peth, from Irvine, CA, and Dr. Deborah Cottrell from Newberry, FL. Drs. McAnnaly, Kuhne and Cottrell are all members of RATS.

March 2014 - We buy a half-page ad in the annual Pet Guide magazine published by USA Today and design it like an article to tell snake owners they do not need to buy live rodents to feed to their snakes.

January 2014 - We buy a monthly half-page ad for a year in Pet Business magazine for ads encouraging the selling of live rodents only for pets, and frozen rodents for snake food.
 
January 12, 2013 - We rent a booth at the Bay Area Pet Expo in San Jose , CA. We start selling shirts and purses featuring faux fur rat appliques.

January 2013 - We continue the monthly ad campaign in Pet Business magazine featuring stories about rats for another year.

April 27-28, 2013 - We share a booth with The Rat Fan Club at the World of Pets Expo in Hampton,Virgina.  

January 2012 - We start a new ad campaign in Pet Business magazine featuring stories that show the intelligence, bravery, loyalty and compassion of rats. We buy a monthly quarter-page ad for one year.

April 30, 2011 - We hold our 6th Annual Rat-stravaganza in Sacramento, CA and 31 rats get new homes!

January 28-30, 2011 - We share a booth with The Rat Fan Club at the World of Pets Expo in Maryland, and hold a small pet costume contest. We start selling rat and guinea pig costumes to raise funds.

December 2011 - Our quarterly newsletter goes all color.

July 2, 2010 - We start a national survey of pet shops to discover their practices of selling rats and mice.

June 5, 2010 - We hold our 5th Annual Rat-stravaganza in Sacramento, CA, and 2 adult rats get a new home.

October 3, 2009 - We hold our 4th Annual Rat-stravaganza in Sacramento, CA. 13 baby rats get new homes!

August 8-9, 2009 - We have a booth at the Herp World Expo in San Jose to see how many snake owners we can educate about the benefits of buying frozen rodents instead of live rodents. We find unexpected allies in the form of snake breeders!

January 2009 - We share a booth with The Rat Fan Club at the World of Pets Expo in Maryland.

August 2008 - We buy a monthly half-page ad in Pet Business magazine, a trade magazine for pet shops, for one year.

June 28, 2008 - We hold our 3rd Annual Rat-stravaganza in Sacramento, CA.

April 11-13, 2008 - We have a booth at the America’s Family Pet Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds in southern CA.

November 2-4, 2007 - We share a booth with The Rat Fan Club at the World of Pets Expo in W. Springfield, MA.

September 18-20, 2007 - We rent a booth at Superzoo, one of the 3 big annual trade shows for the pet industry.

June 23, 2007 - We hold our 2nd Annual Rat-stravaganza in Sacramento, CA.

February 2007 - We expand our Rat-a-tat Chat newsletter from 4 pages to 8 pages, with 4 pages in color.

January 2007 - We share a booth with the Rat Fan Club at the World of Pets Expo in Timmonium, Maryland.

July 22, 2006 - We hold our first Rat-stravaganza! at the Sacramento SPCA in Sacramento, CA.

May 30-June 2, 2006 - We rent a booth at the International Conference on Exotics for veterinarians.

April 2006 - We join American Humane as an Agency Member.

April 2, 2006 - We have a booth at the Wonderful World of Rats event sponsored by Rattie Ratz at the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, CA. We will continue to have a booth at this event each year it is held.

April 2006 - We buy a bimonthly ad in Exotic DVM magazine, for veterinarians.

January 2006 - We are listed as a charity on www.missionfish.org, eBay’s opportunity for sellers to donate a portion of their sales.

October 2005 - We hold our first eBay Fundraising Auction (we continue to hold one every spring and autumn).

September 2005 - We buy a monthly ad in Pet Product News magazine, a trade magazine for pet shops.

August 2005 - We buy an ad in the program for the Conference on Homeless Animal Management and Policy in Anaheim, CA.

June 2005 - We buy an ad in a directory called Shelter Pages published by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

We publish the first issue of our newsletter, the Rat-a-tat Chat.

May 2005 - We pay to have a flyer placed in the attendee packet for the International Conference on Exotics for veterinarians.

January 2005 - We are listed as a charity on www.igive.com, a website that helps online companies donate money to a charity every time someone makes a purchase.

March 2004 - A notice about our new RATS website appears in Pet Business magazine.

June 2004 - We learn about 96 rats in Sacramento from several accidental litters who need homes. We hold a rat adoption at the Chico Petco and find homes for 11 rats.

April 2004 - Held World Rat Day craft party.

February 2004 - The Phoenix volunteers held another craft booth and raised $437!

January 2004 - Sent press release to pet trade magazines.

December 2003 - The Phoenix volunteers held another very successful craft booth at a holiday fair and sold out!

October 2003 - Posted Shelter Info on website; The Phoenix, AZ volunteer group founded by Danielle Stanley held a craft and face-painting booth at a pet adoption fair.

September 2003 - We redesign our brochure.

June 2003 - Compounding pharmacist Jennifer K. Gimon of BCP Veterinary Pharmacy in Houston, TX has agreed to insert a flyer about Debbie's Rat Health Care booklet when she sends orders to veterinarians who prescribe for pocket pets!

May 2003 - We receive Non-Profit Status.

 
If you have any other ideas or suggestions for programs, please let us know!



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