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From: john.bourne@g...
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2002 1:14 PM
To: Sandra Beasley
Subject: Pet Rats in Alberta

Dear Sam,
Thank you for your interest in Alberta's rat control program.
As you may be aware the government of Alberta has conducted a very successful program of keeping rats out of the province for over fifty years. One major reason for this success has been the participation of all Albertans in doing their part in keeping this most unwanted pest out.


To ensure Alberta remains rat-free it is very important to maintain public good will of our program. This can only be achieved through assurances that we are in fact free of rats. Unfortunately, there have been many, many cases where "pet" rat incidents have undermined the good will and reputation of this valuable program. Let me explain the facts. Where pet rats are permissible and legal, there is no control over who can own them, limits to numbers and what owners can do with them. Consequently, rats are invariably released or freed into the streets, parks and other locations for a variety of reasons, none the least of which, owners have lost interest in keeping them. Or, in some cases, pet rats escape, or lost, or, in one case, several dozen abandoned by thier owner in an apartment suite.


Those rodents are soon discovered dead or alive in parking lots, school grounds, back alleys, ball diamonds, etc, by someone who then reports a "rat" sighting to the government. Because the government has no idea of the animal's origin (you see, Sam, not all wild Norway rats are the same colour; they can be pinto or bi-coloured as well) the incident has to be handled like a wild Norway rat incident. And therein lies the problem. The follow-up investigation and control effort is not only very expensive, but more importantly, it betrays the good work and good will of the program. And, as you can well imagine, irreversibly damage Alberta's rat-free reputation.


So, you see Sam, it is the irresponsibility of people that has created Alberta's zero tolerance of pet rats in Alberta and not the rats and has nothing to do with your perception that the government thinks pet rats are distasteful.


FYI, pet rats are in fact, actually Norway rats that have been bred to produce different colour patterns but can and have successfully bred with their wild Norway kin.


Regards, JBB.










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