Friday, October 5, 2012

Please Help - I'm scared, and Don't Know What To Do :'(

I don't think it's a big secret that I love my rats. My rats, are honestly, my world.

Well, today, my world kind-of came crumbling down. I don't know how many of you knew about this, but I live in a gated community. Let me first start off by saying that gated communities are, well, for lack of a better word, hell.

Everyone gets in your business, and the "board" makes the most stupid decisions. Every few years there are "votes" to decide who is the President of the neighborhood, treasurer, secretary, etc. - And yet during these "votes" we aren't really well notified. It's not just when it comes to the votes either. If there are big decisions to be made, it's all based on what these 4-5 board members want (and maybe a few other people, who have nothing better to do than attend a meeting in the evening.)

Well every month or so there are meetings (that nobody is notified about) at our clubhouse. And apparently, during the last meeting. I was brought up. There used to be a large wooded area right north of our neighborhood, but there is being a new neighborhood built, and so they are clearing the wooded area over there, out. As a result, a lot of unwanted pests and animals have come into our neighborhood - One of those pests, being wild rats.

According to some people, the wild rat problem was my fault, because the wild rats could smell my rats, and it was bringing them all to our neighborhood (as well as snakes.) 

Well apparently, someone who lives in my neighborhood found out I have rats. Normally, I keep my pet rats inside of my home - But when the weather is really nice (cool, but not too hot, or too cold) I put them out on my back porch, so they can get fresh air. Well the past couple weeks, the weather has been perfect, so I've had them out there.

Somebody, somehow, saw my domesticated, pet rats, and reported me to the "board." Today, I received a letter in the mail from them, basically stating that I am "raising white rats in my garage" The letter also states that if I don't take action within 21 days of the date on the letter, that I will be reported to animal control, and will receive a fine of $100 a day for up to 10 days, if the problem isn't  contained.

So today, I went to a few of the board members homes. I talked to the "President" who told me that I am not allowed to have pet rats based on one of the documents we received when we moved into our home, 10+ years ago. I was provided with said document, which states the following:

"Section 7.18. Pets and Animals.

A. Commonly accepted household pets such as dogs, cats and birds may be kept in reasonable numbers. All animals shall be contained on the Owner's Plot and are not permitted to roam freely. Commercial activities involving pets are not allowed.

B. No horses, cows, hogs, pigs, swine, goats, chicken, pigeons or any other such animals shall be kept on any of the properties."

So, let's review that, and break it down. It states that commonly accepted pets are allowed. So let me ask you, would you consider a small animal  a "commonly accepted pet?" I would - I'd say a vast majority of kids, when growing up have, small, common pets, such as hamsters, rats, gerbils, etc.

And then let's see, it says things that we are not allowed to have include.. UHHHHHHH... Farm Animals?! It says "or any other such animals" hmmm, based on that description, I wouldn't say rats have any relation to those. Based on there own "documentation" and rules, it sounds to me, like I haven't done anything wrong.

They tried telling me that my rats were undomesticated, and not okay too have. 

I pointed out how I felt, to the president, and he stated that it's open to interpretation, and that if I really wanted to fight it, my only option was to go to the board meeting on the 17th, and then the 4-5 board members would decide. I asked him if I did that if he honestly thought I'd have a chance, and his words were "Probably not, but it's your only option."

I then asked him to tell me what he suggested, and his suggestions were" "Either abandon them, or find a friend, who doesn't live in the neighborhood, to take them"

After this, I'd had enough - I then proceeded to the office of the person who sent me the letter (A local management service.) In the office, I was in tears, because I just couldn't believe this was happening to me. The management lady was nice enough to get me a tissue, but then proceeded to have me follow her into some type of conference room, where I had to discuss my personal situation, with the doors open, for the entire office to hear.

She told me that she was informed by "informants" that I had rats. It's funny, because I had spoken to the president of the board today, and had confirmed to me that it was a specific woman in our neighborhood. The president later back-tracked what he said. He first said that it was her, and then later, when I threatened to call the police he changed it, stating "I don't even know if it was her."
For personal reasons, we'll just call this manager at the office "Sally."

Well, I told Sally that I knew who it was, and then she informed me that the other woman who I was told, brought it up, actually just confirmed that I had rats. She told me the person who actually informed her was a construction manager, who happened to see my rats, and he/she was working on the condos. I told her that made no sense, and then she told me, the construction worker had saw them across the lake. I told her that was funny, because I lived on the other side of the neighborhood, and that my home could not be seen from the lake. She told me that "said woman" must have seen it some other way then, and I continued to tell her that my yard was fenced in by bushes, and that my back yard (Which is the only place you would have been able to see the rats on my back lanai) was the only place where you could possibly see into my porch enclosure. I then asked her if her consrtruction manager had permission to trespass in my yard, and she just said no.

So really, she's admitted to me that she knows somebody has been trespassing on my property - How nice, right?! What a great management service! 

She then told me that the only thing I could do was either get rid of my rats somehow, or put together some type of proof - She told me to have animals services come in, and give me some type of documentation stating that it's okay to have my pet rats, and then she told me to also go to the pet stores, and have them give me some type of documentation, stating that rats are common household pets, and that they sell them at there location.

She told me if I did that, then the board would re-consider, and go over my "case." If the board agreed that my rats were okay, then I would be allowed to keep them. She told me not to get ahead of myself, and to just follow these steps first, to see if everything was okay. I asked her, what if the board didn't agree, and she told me then I would need to get rid of them, or get a lawyer.

So after I left, I was so upset. I was in hysterics crying.
I went straight to the police department in Bonita, and I talked to the clerk at the window, and then called a number, and talked to a desk officer. The desk officer, was actually laughing, because she thought it was absolutely ridiculous - She told me that they can't tell me what I can, and cannot have in my home, and that based on the wording in the "documents" it stated nowhere, that I could not keep rats as pets.

After that I went home and talked to a few of my close friends in the neighborhood, and everyone I've talked to, agrees with me that they have no ground.

I tried calling a lawyer, but most of the offices were closed by that time. Monday I also plan on calling animal services, to see what they suggest.

I don't really have a problem with animal services coming in and inspecting if that's what's needed to be done, but I shouldn't be forced to have to do this! This is our home, and it's just not fair! 

We don't really have tons of extra money to put into getting a lawyer, so I am trying to start a campaign for help on Indiegogo as well. (I canceled the campaign, as I am no longer in need of a lawyer) I have never had the need for a lawyer, and I have no idea about the amount of money needed, but I feel like I need to fight this. I'm being bullied, threatened, and harassed into pretty much throwing away part of my family.

It's not a big secret that I've had a lot of personal issues and demons in my life. Dealing with depression and BiPolar2 disorder are a daily struggle - I weaned myself off of everything, to try and deal with life issues on a better basis, where I do not need to rely on medicine to keep me happy. Right now though, I'm really not handling this well - My grandma who has handled my grandpas passing well this past year, has really kept strong, but she is still grieving, and she's even more upset than I am. She's been telling me that if they're saying this, then they have to go. Not because she doesn't want the rats, but because she can't handle the additional stress being put on her by these monsters.

I try to never ask anything of anyone, but right now, I am desperate, and scared. I can't lose my rats. I mean honestly, if I lost them, I'd just feel empty. Even tonight, I have so much to do, but I'm the type of person who shuts down in stressful situations. I haven't eaten, I haven't showered, and I can't even think straight.

I am asking you all to help me in the biggest way right now. I don't want to take anything from anybody, but I'm desperate, and need help. Even if all you can do is share this story with someone - Email, Tweet, share it on Facebook, anything, I would be forever grateful.

Right now, I just need support knowing that I am doing the right thing, that I should follow through with this, and that I need to fight and stay strong. I'm so vulnerable right now, and I really, am almost at a loss for words. All I keep repeating to myself is how this all went down today. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Thank you all for reading this - I know it's  a lot, and I really hope you can all understand where I am coming from. Even if you can't help in any way, I just want you all to know that I care about every single one of you. You guys don't realize how much your kind words effect me positively when I'm struggling.

I love you guys, and I am always here for you too if you need support. 


  1. First off, I don't think that the bylaws are worth the paper that they;re written on. The only type of animals they specifically say are not allowed are farm animals and those raised for profit. I assume that you are not selling the babies.

    I would not do anything until Animal Services actually shows up and tells you that it is a problem. I have a feeling that they may not even come to the house at all. It sounds to me that the Board is trying to scare you into getting rid of your pets. If Animal Services actually does come, I'll bet that they won't say anything negative as long as you are caring for them properly.

    Secondly, you are very brave going off your meds. I have tried several times, and have finally decided that I am not going to try again. The lows are just not worth it. I deserve to be happy (and so does my family) If it takes meds to do it so be it. Make sure you are getting some sort of support or therapy to go with the withdrawal. I'll be thinking of you!

    1. I am definitely not selling my rats, and I haven't had any babies in a very long time. I can't even give one away to a friend, let alone someone who wants to buy them for snake food or something :(

      The problem is that they're going to try and put a $100 fine a day on me if I do nothing, and plus, I don't really want Animal Services knocking on my door like I'm some type of monster. It's ridiculous - I shouldn't even have to be putting up with this IMO :'(

      And thank you, I've worked really hard to be okay without them. I have moments, but I've done pretty well without all of the prescriptions.

  2. Omg. Let me say you are a blogger I've followed for a long time because you are a fellow ratty lover! I had six and when my daughter's older she will get one. I miss them terribly and don't understand the stigma. I worked at a pet store when I adopted Charlie, and I quit the same store after learning that the reason their rats were dying was because of the unventilated cages and.awful living conditions. Stick to your guns and fight this, they have no right to do this to you! I will share this post and help if I can. Stay positive :)

    1. Thank you so much Jolene - And I'm glad to hear you are a fellow rattie lover - And I am so happy to hear your daughter will have one as well. As you obviously know, they make amazing pets!

      I will be trying to stay strong, and fight as hard as I can! I'm so hurt. It's all I can think about - I feel like I might as well be a vegetable right now :'(

  3. I'm so sorry you're going thru this. I don't have rats, but I have cats & gerbils who are like children to me, & with my depression, they are the only thing keeping me going most days. I hope you are able to get the help you need to fight this. I can't do much myself, but I shared on FB & tweeted. I hope this helps in some way. Good luck to you & your pets!!!

  4. Thank you so much kitty krash. I can completely relate. Some days, they're the only ones I can open up to when I'm feeling depressed :(.

    And absolutely, this comment and those shares mean so much to me!

  5. I am so sorry you are going through this. The only thing I can think of is talking to your doctor and see if he would be willing to write a letter stating that your rats are some kind of therapy animals that help you with your depression.

    They wouldn't have the right to remove your therapy animals but it would let them know about your medical condition.

    I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. This is B.S.!!! Something to consider... I know where I live lawyers are required by law to do a certain amount of pro bono cases... I suggest you show those fools you arent going to put up with this. I would look into what your state offers to people who need an attorney and cant aford one. Sounds like a case a judge would laugh at. Ive used attotneys pro bono before. Call 211. Or just start in the phonebook attorneys and someone will know how to get you connected with attorneys in your area that are taking pro bono cases. Good luck. Save the rats! ( sounds like a judge judy case) ')

  7. You have 'pet' rats- there lays the difference. Any animal worker worth their salt knows there is a world of difference between what you have and wild rats.
    You have proof- how many 'wild' rats pose with a mini vacuum? How many enter contests? You do have pics of all that.... use those to show they are not wild.
    You also do NOT have snakes or anything that would eat them - which would be an indicator they aren't pets (but rather food)
    Personally , I would allow animal services in so they can see their living quarters (and the outfits and heck anything else you have for them like toys) Go to a pet store that sells ratties for pets , snap a pic, prove what you have is a 'fancy rat/pet rat' . If you have a vet, even ask them if they would be willing to write up something outlining the difference between the two. If you know of any online experts tell them your story and see if they can give you some ammo to use .
    Do what you can without an attorney first. Once you involve an attorney, you open a whole can of worms. Use an attorney as a last resort.

    I will say this though... what someone MIGHT have seen is you catching wild rats- this is not a good thing to let them see. No matter how you feel about rats, there is a huge difference between your pet rats and those that are wild. During your 'fight' with management, refrain from doing it. If their perception is that these rats (wild or domestic) are pests leave the wild ones alone. You have to keep uppermost in your mind you are trying to prove there is is DIFFERENCE between your well cared for and vetted ratties and the ones outside.

    I would be a mess too- just stay calm and gather together proof yours arent wild- you know a lot about this subject and I know you can do it!

  8. Yikes, that's stressful!

    I don't think there is any way they can legally charge you $100 per day if it's not in the papers you signed when you moved in or anything you've signed since.

    If it were me, I'd probably top by the office and say I've been speaking with the police and a lawyer and need to know the contact info for the person they need to talk to to pursuit things. It's possible that just bringing that up will freak them out and get them to drop it. Nobody wants to get tangled up with all of that if they can avoid it, so maybe if you can make it sound like you're about to make it a HUGE inconvenience for them, they'll back down a bit. (You could also say you're going to speak to the local TV station/newspaper. They definitely wouldn't want the bad publicity that would come from a "Housing makes local girl give up pets!" story.)

    I really don't think they have a case against you at ALL. The paperwork clearly states that normal pets are ok. At least 50% of pet stores sell rats. Maybe you could gather some past vet records to prove that these aren't just random wild rats but well-maintained pets?

    Keep us updated!

  9. I definitely think you are legally correct and yeah, PetSmart sells rats! This is ridiculous and I would be upset too! Try not to stress! It's not healthy for your body! I know, easier said than done, but you know you are in the right here so I truly think all will work out ~ even if you end up hating your neighbors in the end. =(

  10. i would tell them to take a flying leap out a window and let animal control show up because they can tell if they are domesticated or not...and when they realize they are nothing will happen to you or your rats :)

  11. oh that is horrible, they are pets and rats are sold in pet stores as domesticated "pets" so that should help your case and remember all those rat contests you used to go in showing them dressed up etc, and I know you have alot of photos like that , they may help to proce that these are family pets no different than a cat or dog or gerbil or hampster .Maybe you can get a local pet store to write something out for you explaining that these are classified as pets? I dont really know what else to say as when someone goes on one of these witch hunts it is hard to fight. But if you can get as much put together as you can showing them not as breeding animals but family pets then maybe the board will listen? I will be sending good thoughts your way and if you can use your blog to help , maybe showing support from your readers? I will gladly state my opionion too GOOD LUCK

  12. I'm also really sorry that you're going through this. I have pet squirrels ( reference, not advertising) and I don't know what I'd do if something like this happened to me.

  13. I'm not sure how to trade private messages with you, but I would like to offer help with research and information that you need to support your domesticated pets. I suggest looking up your state laws on licensing, to provide facts that domesticated rats are not under any restrictions. You'd a find that on a website for your state Fish and Wildlife commission. Also, if your Homeowner's Board insists on perusing this once you notify them that you have a lawyer, you may need to have legal documents of your pets' status and health. Like others have said, info that they are domesticated rats is necessary. I suggest visiting a Veterinarian. If you don't have one, call around and ask if they provide services for rodents or "Pocket Pets" i.e. rats, gerbils, hamsters, etc. A Rodent-friendly vet will be more than happy to provide you with statements that include evidence of their personalities, and genetics that identify them as pet rats and not wild-species. You may have to be prepared to pay for them to have rabies shots and other vaccines, but I promise that's not something you'll have to continue to do. Get them vaccinated and examined once, and provide the paperwork to the board.

    If worse-comes-to-worst, I really do suggest having them stay with a very close friend until you are sure that the busy-body isn't poking her nose in anymore. It's a worst case scenario, but you can move them out for a month or so, and then slowly move them back in. If someone is watching you, don't be obvious with they cage. Bring a cage home, undetected, then bring the rat-babes.

    You say you are getting a lawyer, and that's great. Be armed with your state and local laws that say you are legally allowed to keep and breed rats without a license. A veterinarian can certify that they are in good health, and the approved species.


  14. Honey, I promise you that the law is on your side. There is no law in existence that says you are not allowed to be a Good Samaritan and can't catch animals in a humane trap. If you were trapping feral cats and taking them to a shelter, no one could tell you that you aren't allowed to have your own cats, for example.

    I'm also Bipolar II, and all I can tell you is that, from experience, TRY not to panic. You seem to have handled everything very well, and were able to get your points across. I agree with other comments that it sounds like your Board is just trying to scare you. They may see you as young and they think they can intimidate you. In my experience, people who are most active in things like that are complete control freaks who operate on intimidation and fear. Don't let them see that they have gotten to you. The first step is to go in cool, calm, and collected, which you will be able to do after you speak to your lawyer. The next step after that is to quietly comply, as you probably can't afford to directly pick up and move away.

    Animal Control will not come and remove your pets just because some homeowner's association says so. They are part of the Sheriff's department, and will have to have probable cause.

    From my own experience with Grandmothers, they have lived a long time and fought a hard fight. She lost her husband and is in a state where she'd rather surrender than battle through. She doesn't need to know every detail from now on, unless you really need to tell her and talk to her about it. She also isn't as attached to them as she is to you, and she would rather you not have to go through pain and struggle. It won't really be a struggle for you though. It's going to be cut and dried.

    You have a right to know who your accuser is, by law, and if you can prove that that person has no legal right to have been poking around your yard, her statement will be useless. She was trespassing, and how can you even, legally, trust the word of someone who was breaking the law on your property.

    I suppose I'm willing to say contact me at ThinkPink2683 (at) aol (dot) com, through email or AIM if you need support from a fellow rat-lover. (except mine are tree-rats with fluffy tails!)

  15. (sorry, that was such a long rant that I had to cut it into 3 pieces! I'm sorry!!!)

  16. Amanda I have a LOT in common with you, I would rather not write it all here, but please email me at hollyewarner (at) gmail (dot) com.

  17. Just hang in there. I will be lighting a candle for you and your Ratties.

  18. Oh Amanda i'm so sorry they are bothering you like that. If the police said they couldn't try to calm down, they want to intimidate you and so far they are working: they shouldn't!!

    The animal service can come they will just see how much you love them and how well you care for them. Perhaps they even have a free lawyer attached to them who could help you

    now if you want to fight back...*evil smile* fight back: fill a complain against X for trespassing and harassement the police would have to ask who was the informant etc etc and i'm not sure they want the publicity or bothering so it could come as a agreement: i keep my rats ( with security as now they don't roam freely outside) and i forgot you broke a real law and not a reglement

    i really hope it won't go that far and have a happy end for you because you deserve it . Our pets ( not matter which kind) are part of our family and really near for us

    just stop to help the wild rats ( because if they take pictures it could be a nightmarre) i know you wanted to help but think about your own first

  19. I am so sorry you are going through this, it's so unnecessary and really upsets me that people could act this way over something that doesn't even affect them personally.

    I don't think they have any grounds to do ANYTHING they've said. I don't know if you have a local tv station that would pick this story up to help you or not, but one of our local stations has an "on your side" segment every now and then where they help locals that contact them over any issues they have with either a landlord or some other business person they deal with. Maybe if you threaten to take it public they will back off?

    I hope that they will back off and focus on more important things like nosy neighbors trespassing on your property! Absolutely blows my mind how people can act grrr!

    I love ratties and I know you love yours. I wish you the best in this and if I can be of any help, feel free to contact me! I will gladly share my love of pet rats with anyone and everyone :)


    Oh & when I had my 4 pet rats, they meant the world to me (as yours do to you) and I do believe it helped me with my anxiety and depression problems, so maybe you could let people know that having them helps you with your own health. If I had the money I'd have more rats, but I just don't have the funds right now and it sucks.

  20. I'm sorry your world fell apart. Gosh, I don't know what to say...rats scare the living daylights out of me. Amanda, what ever you do, keep your head up high and go forth. This too shall pass.

  21. :( I don't really know what to say all I know is if it was happening to me over my pets I would be beside myself..

    I really hope you manage to get it sorted out - I cannot comprehend people wanting to get 'rid' of harmless animals, they just seem ignorant to me.

  22. From what your lease states, deanna is right. They did not specifically say that rats aren't allowed. However, if the owners and managers of the property decide they aren't acceptable then there isn't much legal action that can be taken. It's their property and their decision is final (except for safety issues, etc.)

    I'm not a lawyer, so obviously I could be wrong. Most attorneys offer a free consultation, though. If I were you I would call a couple of attorneys and ask them about it. Then, I would let the property manager and owners know that I did so.

    It's possible they may decide a legal battle is not worth it and let it go.

    I hope you get this all straightened out. Rats are most definitely a common household pet and it's ridiculous that you're having to go through this.

    Best of luck!


  23. O.M.G.! You are kidding me! Don't these people have anything better to do than to get in your business. I mean come on, they need to mind their own business. It is your home and you live there, not them. Shame on them for being so cruel. Amanda, I am so sorry you are having to go through this! My pets are part of my family as I know yours are to you. Anyone that gets in the way of that, get ready to do battle. I hope you will keep us posted as to what happens. I will be thinking about you as you are getting this resolved. Hugs! :)

  24. I'm sorry this has happened to you and I hope it all works out.

  25. I agree with deanna_boocock don't anything until Animal Services actually shows up and tells you that it is a problem.

    In the meantime I would find the documents when you bought the house and try to find it where it says that you can't have small animals, cause if it doesn't say anything when you bought the house you could fight it saying it was fine when you moved in and that they change their rules when and where they see fit.

    Also if they try to take this to court or try to kick you out of the community you'll have the documents saying how much they have changed which will help your case.

    Hope all turns out well, Good Luck :)

  26. I have no experience with this but it seems harsh. Good luck!

  27. I don't really see how rats are a farm animal and as long as they are kept inside of your home (hopefully contained) and your not selling them it shouldn't be a big problem. I grew up with a covenance that stated how many animals we could have. When others broke it they got away with it because it required lawyers to actually enforce it. I would guess that your community isn't really going to go to that extreme so you might be ok. Is it really going to be worth their $1,000 to fight you just to get $1,000?

  28. I think it's going to be ok. I would get a folder and start keeping paperwork in it,things like the agreement stating nothing about rats.Also pictures of them dressed up (how much more domesticated can they get!)The first place i would go is to a pet store that sells them as pets.I know that some of the bigger pet sores in my area dislike even selling domesticated pet rats as feeders. You can even call first so they understand your problem and no doubt you can find a nice employee that can write you up some proof. Another idea is printing some pages of fun rattie websites and also some pages of other small animals so you can show the similarity. I do believe they are trying to scare you.Fighting for the things you love is scary but it's always worth it. I will be here for you Amanda!

  29. I am so angry for you! Rats are a very common pet; I had several as a child and so did my friends. Why don't these people have anything better to do?

  30. Hugs. :) First of all, I think you can fight this without a lawyer. Get a local pet store to draft up a letter for you stating that rats, gerbils, etc, are commonly kept as domesticated pets, and that they are for sale at pet stores. Also, go to your local shelter and inquire if they can write anything up. How many do you have? You are better off if you only have a few. If you have too many of ANY animal, you will probably be asked to pare down. But if you only have a few, your case is better. Do you have a vet that you take them to? If so, contact your vet. They can certainly write a letter for you. On the cover page of your packet, write down what the others have said about rats not being spoken about in the bylaws. Also, how did you get the rats? Can you find the receipt from buying them, have the seller write something up, or the person who gave you your first one? They can explain that the rat was given/sold to you for domesticated purposes.
    Go and make you case. Good luck!

  31. As a ferret owner (another commonly outcasted pet), I can completely understand where you're coming from. It's not fair or right for anyone to tell you what animals you can and can't own.

    If you were renting an appartment or something, I could understand throwing such a big fit about something like this. But trying to tell you what to do in your own home is a little extreme.

    But when it comes to rats, some people just don't get it. I've always wanted a pet rat but.. growing up my mom thought they were creepy and disgusting so I was never allowed to have one. So often, people just throw domesticated rats in with wild rats and all of the irrational fears that come with them (disease, infestations, pests, etc). changing that frame of mind isn't always easy, and this story proves it.

    someone saw your rats (regardless of how) and automatically thought worst-case-scenario. What if they get out? What if they carry diseases? What if, what if. And that kind of fear is what starts such terrible abuse by neighbors and communities.

    I can't possibly see how they would/could threaten you with animal control and FINING you when you've done nothing wrong. I would take that letter right to animal control and see what they say about it.

    Just.. don't give in to these assholes. you've done nothing wrong and the best way to resolve this is to make them look like a bunch of fools for even digging that deep for dirt on you. Stay strong, girl.

  32. How awful! I hope this works out in your favor. What they are doing is unfair and uncalled for. I would have cussed them out!

  33. Petsmart sells rats for pets, so they are definitely common pets. Want me to take a picture of them for sale?

  34. I am so sorry about this -- and I entirely understand why you are upset -- I would be also!!! And you need to fight them tooth and nail and do whatever you need to do -- I know you're upset but don't let that stop you from fighting back and fighting back hard. These types of people are horrible. Also, I would suggest going to a vet (do you have a regular vet for your little ones?) and have the vet speak on your (their) behalf. A vet could state that they are pets and domesticated and all that and should have weight in such a discussion. And if you need a lawyer try a local university, a lot of times they have contacts with lawyers we are less expensive or do pro bono work. If I think of anything else I will let you know, I am praying that all works out for you and your little furry family!!!

  35. I'm so sorry you're going thru this!! Although I'm not a rat lover, I have cats and they ARE part of the family. You have done nothing wrong in my opinion. If you can get the board to see this you will be fine. I know, it may not look good, but you never know what may happen. Good luck. :)

  36. I would never live in a community that could rule my life!
    1. It's illegal in many places to trap and relocate ANY wildlife, so please stop doing that. You don't want this action to hurt you.
    2. If your pet rats are well cared for, and you're not a hoarder or breeder, definitely call Animal Control/Services yourself and have them come out. Should you have to? Nope, but it's better to be on the offensive, than the defensive. I had a recent situation where my cat had to see a Vet on the weekend, and due to his FIV+ status (vaccinations can advance their condition to end stage), I do NOT vaccinate. You guessed it, he bit the Vet!!! I followed up with my regular Vet, and had her call Animal Services directly to address the situation. My cat faced quarantine, and who knows what else. My offensive move saved me time worrying, money spent on fines and boarding, and most importantly, the fragile well being of my kitty. So, if you have a Vet, have them help you with this right away. If not, contact Animal Services directly first thing Monday morning. They are in the very best position to help you out as they know your local laws best. A report from them, after an inspection, should be enough to put the issue to rest.

    3. Take a deep breath and try to relax. It's the weekend, so don't stress out over what you can't do right this very moment.

    Pet rats are sold in many pet stores. Um, that makes them domesticated pets. One step at time....

  37. I say fight it! Even if it may be a lost cause. You go to those board members and fight fight fight! I am sick and tired of people telling others what to do and they need to learn that the people they 'bully' won't stand for that crap! And in Section 7.18 it doesn't specifically state no rats. These bastards just want something to bitch about and control. Shit, if I could I would be right by your side telling those asses what is what! Also, that jackass that was snooping on your property must be their lapdog or something. What a pathetic loser. Best of luck and I am rooting for you. :D

  38. I really feel bad for what you're going through. I don't have pets but I can understand your sentiments. From what I've read on your blog, you love and take care of your rats and they don't bother anyone.

    This is why my family and I don't want to live in a neighborhood where there's a HOA. Most of the time, the people on the board are power-drunk busy-bodies. And they have their cronies(like the woman who reported you) who spy for them.

    I wish you the best of luck. I tweeted the post.

  39. My husband has worked with HOAs in the past while doing contractor work in a mobile home park. They are horrible little socialistic (sometimes could be interpreted as communistic) societies that believe they are gods. The owner of the mobile home did have to contact her attorney on the matter.

    OK. The wording is very vague. You are going to have to fight this if you want to keep your rats. You are going to have to get a lawyer. Since the wording is vague, a judge will probably rule for you in the end--a year or two--because rats are a rodent that are commonly sold in pet stores, and your rats definitely do not look like a common wild rat. It will take a year or two--and that $100 a day will be adding up. Don't worry about that $100 a day because a judge will just throw it out. Just keep up with your regular HOA fees.

    Just do what what the HOA says to do.
    OR move.

  40. This sounds pretty bogus to me. I don't see how they can actually charge you if you do nothing. Its your home and you should be able to have whatever pets you want. The officer you spoke with sounds right, they can't do anything. Personally I would ignore them and if they try anything then you get a lawyer and fight it. You shouldn't have to pay until you win the lawsuit then THEY have to pay the lawyer. I'm not real knowledgeable about that stuff but that's what ive been told. I think they're trying to scare you and probably wont even follow through cause they know they're wrong. Apparently they have time on their hands. Probably wouldn't hurt to get a doctors note saying you need them for your mental health too. Maybe if you showed them that they'd back off? I would not let them bully you and don't let them win because they are wrong. If you let them get away with it they'll think they can bully anyone.
    So sorry you have to deal with this though!

  41. Not to stress you any more, but I have had dealing with a board when we owned our townhome. First I received a letter saying I could no longer hang my seasonal flags beside my entry door - so I stopped. Next I was told I could not hang my American flag because it was too large (also be fined each day). Next, my flowers on my back patio were growing through the fence and someone cut them all down. This board was vicious and through. They can and will do anything they want. They are a government unto themselves. They don't care how well you take care of your pets - they just want them gone. It will probably boil down to two choices - get rid of your pets or move. I moved far away!

  42. Ugh, wrote a whole comment and it disappeared. K. I'll start over.
    One make a plan of attack. Write a list. It will help you focus. Sometimes forcing myself to do at least one thing off my lists everyday is the only way I can function.
    Two make sure you go to the board and get scheduled to be heard at their meeting on the date they gave you. Trust me they very well may have meetings that if you're not on the agenda then you won't be heard.
    Three go to a local petco, they sell rats as pets, get them to give you a letter stating that rats are common household pets, like cats and dogs. It's petco they're nationwide so their opinion is harder to dispute then say a local privately owned pet store.
    Four-get local news involved. They love personal interest pieces esp. ones that involve pets.
    five-worst comes to worst lie. yes lie. tell them your pets are gone. you've been catching wild ones right? well get some bite proof gloves and stick a few wild ones in a pet carrier and make a big show of "moving" them out of your house. Then, and I know its mean to your rats but don't let them go out to the porch anymore.
    also what happens if they fine you $100 a day for up to 10 days? Can they fine you anymore after that? how long do you have to pay the fine? will they evict you if you don't?
    Also every time you see someone even a foot near you property or looking at your house funny make sure you call the board. call every single one of them. grab a disposable camera and start snapping away at whoever is in the area and show up at their houses with the pics. And document everything in writing, start taking it to the management company too. so if they do knock on your door again for any reason you can ask them if they've handled those "issues" that you documented for them.

  43. I would call animal control and have them come to your home and see that you have pets. They can give you a document stating this. Take a few photos (including where you dress them up) and a note from the pet store if you can. Present this to the board. You are in the right in this situation and I am sure animal control will agree.

  44. Gosh, I can't believe someone would get upset just because you have pet rats in your home. Have you tried going to the petshops to get the paper saying they are normal pets? I'm pretty sure any petstore that carries rats would consider them a normal pet, so I think it would be easy to get that in writing.

  45. Oh dear, I'm so sorry. I love all animals, I've grown up with a variety of pets, and I also had rats (when I was a kid). I never had a problem though, I can't imagine the pain.
    You have my support, I tweeted and + your story (stupid me I overdid lately with posts and likes on fb, and I can't share your story there for now), but hope I helped a bit.
    I'm sending you all my love. Be strong and please if there is anything else I could do to help, do let me know.

  46. Sorry girl this sounds like a mess and bullshit for you to have to deal with. I have alway considered rats to be able to be small indoor pets jsut about everywhere its usually dogs that have always been the hardest to keep most places based on size alone not rats they are easy to put away in smaller areas.

    As for I do hope all this gets fixed for you cause i think its messed up if they make you get rid of them. It is nice that you wee capturing rats and getting them out of there i commend you on that you have a heart of gold. keep your head up girl and i will pray it gets better for you

  47. Amanda,
    Relax and take this one step at a time. It's ridiculous that you are even going through this. I honestly don't think they have a leg to stand on. Your pets are contained and have not put your neighbors at risk. I would suggest a trip to the animal control officer with a copy of this provision to see what you are looking at happening in 21 days. If this doesn't go well for you I would suggest you sit down and start making phone calls first to your local animal allies and then if this doesn't get you anywhere I would then go national. I'm finding it hard to believe that none of your neighbors own small caged animals such has hamsters? Are you friendly enough with your neighbors to ask them to write a statement that they either own small caged animals or in no way find yours to be a threat to them? Also with so much bad news in the press you would be surprised at how quickly your local news station may jump at the opportunity of a nice animals rights story about this. For future reference I personally wouldn't speak to anyone involved in this without a tape recorder. These boards are made up of people (for the most part) who just want to be in control. My son inlaw had an issue (unrelated to animals) and took his to small claims court and won. In his case it was a matter of oneupmanship and perhaps in your case as well.
    Sit down and make a list of your game plan. Take pictures; of their cages, of the room they are kept in, of your apartment, of the outside of your apartment. This shows these small caged animals are of no threat to anyone but rather are loved pets in your home.
    Perhaps a note from your doctor(s) stating these beloved pets are part of your continued healthy success in you bipolar treatment would help? Hang in there kid, I'm here and you know how to find me on Facebook should you need to message me.
    Breath, relax & go kiss your babies. It's going to be okay. Just make a game plan.

  48. I would immediately get a letter from two different pet stores that sell rats - take photos as well of the cages with prices shown. You could also print out some pages from the web about pet rats. Add a letter stating that since rats are commonly accepted household pets and are not specifically excluded in the bylaws you have every right to have them Do not get emotional other than to add that the idea of losing your beloved pets has been emotionally devastating to you and should they continue to harass you, or impose fines you will seek legal recourse.

  49. Amanda- that is terrible. I can't even imagine. I hope you can work it out with your association. I will help you by sharing!

  50. PS - I meant to mention in my post that as much as you want to save the wild rats, I would cease catching them. Neighbors who see you do that will not understand the difference between wild rats that might carry disease and domesticated rats. Don't add fuel to the fire :)

    Wishing you all the best with this. You have "right" on your side. And if you need to go legal - check for free legal aid in your area and then sue the hell out of the board for harassment, emotional distress and of course all expenses you incur in fighting this. Living in a condo I know boards usually get very cautious when faced with potential law suits, so if they are smart they will back down and at most issue a letter dropping the matter other than to maybe note a few rules (rats must be kept in cages type thing) just to save face.

  51. Stay strong. You are in the right and the law is behind you. Get the documentation they requested and attend the board meeting hearing. You can do it. It does not state rats in the paperwork and they are often kept as pets and sold at pet stores. Good luck!

  52. This has gotten me in tears of anger and sadness!!! I have depression, PTSD, panic disorder and more. A huge hug for dealing with life without meds, I try but sometimes I just have to take something. I am a lifetime animal lover, I have my cats that are my world, they have gotten me through me darkest hours. Also growing up with any and every type of pet, we had alot of rats-they are extremely domesticated and make wonderful pets!!! they are intelligent & affectionate, but 'non-animal' people hear the word rat and they think of sewers and disease-it's as infuriating a the stigma attached to pittie bulls. My hairless rat was one of my most favorite pets ever yaers ago, he would just ride around in my pocket and respond when I talked to him. I now anger can be very draining, but talking to these 'stick up their butt' people is like talking to a wall. You need to get mad-pull out the fight in you, take pics of your yard, get an attorney, get firends and witnesses, I hope you don't have to take this fight to a real court, but do it for your family (rats). I've shared your story everywhere I could and anything at all 'we' (your online friends) can do to help let us know!! Your post when you were overwhelmed a while ago really touched me too. You have been an inspiration to me since I started following your blog. I look to you pushing on day to day and I in turn keep trying too. You can win this-get the pet stores on your side, take pics of the rats for sale, start a petion, I know I'd sign it-I'd write a letter on my opinion as rats as domestic pets. i've worked as a vet tech for years so my statement would have a bit of backing to it. i'm sorry to ramble but as I said, if I was separated from my cats I literally would be put in inpatient-so this means so much to me. It also infuriates me that you are under this stress, I know that you do NOT need this and these snooty people should be ashamed, I hate bullies and thats what this is!!! Please please keep us up to date on this and face them with an aresenal of facts and your head up!!! buzzyngabe(at)

  53. good luck, i shared this, i hope you get all the information you need to fight this!!! please let us know with any updates!!

  54. OMG Leave the small rats alone, you mean people. There is some people that don´t have what to do.

    Amanda, we stay with you, dear!!! Lots of courage, hugs and kisses for you and your cute little pets!


  55. You can probably get a free "assessment" of your rights with a lawyer. Many offer free consultations and they will at least tell you if you have a case or not. Knowledge goes far, as in, if you KNOW they can't make you get rid of your pets, and let them know you know....A lot depends on whether you own your home or rent I would imagine. I know with rentals, they can change by laws and you have to adhere. Idk what the laws are if you own your own home but have an association to follow. I live in the country on 100 acres for a reason-other than county laws, it's my way or the highway :D

  56. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this. It is not fair at all. If I were you, I would fight. You are in the right. Apparently people have been trespassing in your yard, and that right there should be enough to throw out their complaints. In fact, I would think that whoever made the complaint in the first place should be worried about having done so. Fight, honey. That is all I can say. If someone tried to tell me I had to get rid of my dogs, I would fight them tooth and nail, and I would darn sure win. I really hope everything works out for you and your family!

  57. This whole thing is ridiculous. Your rats are kept indoors. They're not bothering anyone, and they are not specifically prohibited in the bylaws.

    You might try contacting the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Assn. to see if they have any experience with this type of issue. They may also have statistics or a fact sheet that will help your case.

    I know you can't help where your parents chose to live, but this type of thing is exactly why I would never move into a subdivision with a homeowners association: Snobby busybodies who have nothing better to do but make trouble for others.

    Good luck, Amanda!

  58. This just makes me livid. I have followed you for years and love your rat babies! I don't have rats myself (I'm a cat person 7 of them LOL) but I love them! They are smart and loving and so wonderful! Ignorance is what breeds this sort of insane attack on pet rats. Its like look dumba$$es, they sell rats as pets in all the pet stores, so where do you get off saying that they aren't legit pets? grrrr I really hope this all works out for you and that they get educated in the process! Sending good energy your way!

  59. I ran across your blog from entering a giveaway, but I am sure glad I did!!! I am a rat lover as well. No one except my husband shares my love of rats. Every time I bring up the subject to friends, they get that look on their face like "oh no, here we go again". I even think wild rats are cute. I am so sorry you are going through this. I went through something similar a long time ago. My female rat had babies and we had workers come into our apartment and they snooped where they should not have and found the babies. We were threatened with eviction if we did not get rid of them. We were only able to keep one out of 12 babies. I was hysterical, and feel your pain. Rats are wonderful, loveable pets and people just don't understand it. There is a stigma associated with rats stemming from long ago. I will keep good thoughts for you and hope everything works out well for you and you don't have to get rid of your babies.