You Can Help
There are several ways you can help us reach our goals besides just donating money.
Choose www.igiveisearch.com as your Internet search engine. They will donate $.01 for each search you make to a charity of your choice. Obviously we hope you will choose RATS as your charity!
Before shopping online, visit www.igive.com and sign up, designating RATS as your chosen charity. By visiting www.igive.com first every time you shop online, the store you purchase from will donate a portion of your order to RATS without any cost to you!
You can donate items that we can to auction off to raise money. (For suggestions see below.)
There are also ways you can take a more active volunteer role. You can become a Roving Reporter.
A Roving Reporter visits or calls pet shops, veterinary hospitals and animal shelters in your area to let them know about R.A.T.S. and the information we offer. At the same time, the Roving Reporter should investigate the policies, procedures, and conditions at these locations to see if there is room for improvement. For more details on the job of a Roving Reporter, see below.
An Ambassador-at-Large is a representative of R.A.T.S. who meets with the public to explain who we are and what we do. For example, a great way to do this is to rent booth space at local events to give out information about rats, inform people of the existence of R.A.T.S. and hold fun activities to raise funds for our programs. An Ambassador-At-Large may also give talks to local groups such as the Soroptomists, Rotary clubs, etc. For more details on the job of an Ambassador-at-Large, see below.
Suggested items to donate for fundraisers
Donated items do not have to have a rat theme, but if they do so much the better!
Any ratty items found in gift shops, dollar stores, or thrift shops (items in good condition please), for example, coin purses shaped like rats, notepads with rat designs, stuffed rat toys, Christmas ornaments, etc.
If you have items to donate, please let us know what they are. Depending on the item, we might have you send it to us, or just send us a photo that we can use to post on the website or on e-Bay, then we will have you send the item directly to the purchaser or winner.
Roving Reporter Job Description
We want Roving Reporters to do two things as they call or visit pet shops, veterinary hospitals and animal shelters.
First, tell the people at the facility about us and the information we have available. If they are interested in our information, send us the facility's address and the manager's name so we can send them information.
Second, investigate the conditions at each pet care facility and fill out a questionnaire to send to us so we can compile statistics. Later, we will ask you visit the facility again so we can see if the information we send to these facilities results in any improvement in the conditions there. Collecting information like this is especially important to successfully win grant money. The foundations that give grants like to see that we have some way of tracking whether the programs we operate have a beneficial effect.
If you would like to be a Roving Reporter, you do not have to contact us ahead of time. You can go ahead and contact a facility and get the answers to the questions and then just send them to us together with the address and manager's name. You can email the information or send it by snail mail.
It is best to visit pet shops in person to see how the rats are being housed and treated. -- We would like the answers to the following questions. (You should be able to learn the answers to most of these questions just by observation, but for some of them you will need to ask the staff.)
1. Are the rats sold for pets only, for feeders only, or for both? About how many rats are sold each month for each purpose?
2. If they are sold for both purposes, are there different rats sold for each purpose or are all the rats sold for either purpose? Are these rats kept in the same part of the store or different parts?
3. If the rats are sold as pets, are the males and females housed together or separately?
4. How big are the habitats the rats are housed in? (You'll need to bring a tape measurer for this.) About how many rats are housed in each habitat?
5. What kind of bedding is used in the rat habitats?
6. Is the bedding kept clean or is it allowed to stay dirty?
7. What kind of food is given to the rats?
8. Do they use water bottles or water dishes?
9. Are there any toys in the rat habitats, such as exercise wheels, tubes, etc? Please list them.
10. Are the rats sold as pets socialized? That is, are they friendly and eagerly approach a human hand, or are they afraid of being touched or picked up?
11. Where does the store get their rats? eg., a local hobby breeder, a USDA licensed breeding facility, store breeds own rats
12. Do you see any sick rats in the store? If so, what are the rat's symptoms?
13. What is the store's official policy about sick rats? If you tell an employee about a sick rat, do they follow the official policy? How do they react and what do they do?
Start by calling the hospital to see if they treat rats. If so, tell them that you are doing a survey for the Rat Assistance & Teaching Society to gather statistics about veterinary treatment of rats. You can either continue to ask questions of the receptionist until you reach questions they are not able to answer, or ask to talk to the vet. - You can either ask to talk to the vet on the phone when he or she is free, or see if you can visit the hospital to talk to the vet. Ask what the vet would prefer. Here are the questions we'd like you to ask:
1. How many rats do you treat each year?
2. What type of rat surgeries have you done? About how many of each and what has been the success rate? What do you charge for each category of surgery (ie. mammary tumor removal, spays, neuters)
3. Do you require that food be withheld overnight before surgery? - (This is required for dogs and cats, but is not necessary for rats.)
4. What type of anesthesia do you use? Do you use a pre-anesthetic? - If so, what? Do you use a post-surgical analgesic? If so, what?
5. What type of warming equipment do you use for rat surgical patients?
6. What treatment do you recommend for a 6-week-old rat with respiratory symptoms?
7. What do you charge to euthanize a rat and what method do you use.
8. If I could provide you with a booklet on rat health care written by a lay-expert on rats, how would you feel about this?
There are generally three different types of animal shelters: government-run shelters that provide animal control services to the community, shelters run by non-profit humane societies that may or may not provide animal control services to the community, and private shelters, either non-profit or informal, that rescue and adopt out homeless animals. You may need to check to see which, if any, of the shelters in your area will accept rats.
For those shelters that do, here are the questions we'd like you to ask.
1. About how many rats do you take in each year?
2. What surrender fee do you charge for rats?
3. Do you get rats from owner surrenders, as strays, or both?
4. What percentage of rats taken in get adopted out?
5. What is the average length of stay for a rat?
6. What is the criteria for euthanizing a rat?
7. How are the rats euthanized?
8. What happens to a rat who becomes sick?
9. What adoption fee do you charge for rats?
10. Do you require that adopted rats be spayed or neutered? How is that handled?
11. May I please have copies of your adoption questionnaire and contract used for rats?
12. How do you promote the adoption of pets? (ie. Pet of the Week feature in newspapers or TV, newspaper ads, etc.) Are rats ever included in any of these promotions?
If possible, ask to see how the rats are housed to answer the following questions.
13. How many cages are available for rats?
14. What type of cages are they and how big are they? (You'll need a measuring tape for this.)
15. Where in the shelter are the rat cages? Can they be easily seen by the public?
16. What type of information is posted for the public to read?
17. What type of bedding do they use in the cages?
18. What type of food do they use?
19. Do they use water bottles or water dishes in the cages.
20. Are there any toys in the cages? Please list.
(If you have any suggestions for additional questions for any of the facilities, please let us know.)
Ambassador-At-Large Job Description
An Ambassador-At-Large will organize a fundraiser or present information about R.A.T.S. to the public in the manner of their choice. There are many options. For instance, maybe a business in your town has a display case where you could set up an exhibit about rats and R.A.T.S. including photos, information, etc. We can help supply you with materials to use.
Many businesses are willing to help with fundraising for non-profit organizations. Maybe there is a business in your area, for instance a pizza parlor, that would be willing to donate a percentage of their sales one day.
If you are willing to speak to groups, you could approach organizations in your area such as the Soroptomists, Rotary Club, Elks, Moose, etc. to see if they would be interested in a presentation. We can supply you with brochures to hand out. Ask if they would like you to bring along some of your rats.
See if you can rent booth space at community events. - For instance, here in Chico we have an Endangered Species Faire every spring and the local mall has one or two pet fairs every year. - If a church is having a Blessing of the Animals they might be willing for you to set up a table. - But you don't have to limit a booth to only animal-related events if your booth will offer a fun craft or game for attendees. Even a 4th of July celebration or craft fair would offer the opportunity to educate people in a fun way. - Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for information on upcoming events. - To increase the benefit of your booth, make it a fundraiser for R.A.T.S. as well.
Here are some examples of activities you can have at your booth:
1. You can sell rat coloring books. (We hope to make these available soon.)
Danielle found some ceramic rodents at a dollar store for 50 cents, offered them at the booths for $2 each and sold out! She supplied decorations such as glitter, sequins, etc. for people to glue onto them. I have lots of these ceramic rats left that I can send you to use. If you're interested, let me know. I think you could ask $3 for people to decorate them.
2. You can do face painting, or "tattooing." This is always popular. The Oriental Trading Company catalog at orientaltrading.com or 800-228-2269 sells several different types of temporary tattoos you can use. They have body tattoos for $5.95/3 dozen (17¢ each), rhinestone tattoos for $4.95/6 dozen (7¢ each), and body jewels for $3.95/dozen (33¢ each).
3. You could sell little rat items such as rubber stamps, jewelry, figurines, key chains, etc. You might be able to find things like this at dollar stores, thrift shops, etc. Contact me to see if we have items like this available! For the non-rat people, you might want to sell items from the Oriental Trading Company catalog. They have all kinds of small items at cheap prices such as gemstone US flag pins for $5.95/dozen (50¢ each) and other patriotic pins for $4.95/dozen (41¢ each).
4. If you're really ambitious you could make a finger maze and challenge people to see how fast they can complete the maze successfully. A finger maze can be made with cardboard and tape and the walls only need to be about 2" tall. You could offer modest prizes for people who beat a specific time limit.
5. One of the best options is to offer craft items that people can decorate themselves. In October, Danielle Stanley in Phoenix, AZ held a craft and face-painting booth at a pet adoption fair. She said, "We got A TON of positive feedback: it was something for the kids to do, which no one else had, and it wasn't just a 'buy me' thing - it kept the kids busy and they had a blast." In February Danielle and her group held another craft booth and raised $437!
We also have some little books called Mouse's Tail we bought at a dollar store for $1 each. They have 6 hard cardboard pages, like for babies, with a fleece tail attached to the spine. They are really cute and silly. This book would be good to have at a booth to sell for $2-3 (the retail price on the back is $3.95), especially for families with kids too young to do a craft project. Let me know and I can send you some.
The Oriental Trading Company catalog sells items in bulk that can be used for craft booths. Some of the items they have offered include:
papier-maché photo frame keychains
heart-shaped cardboard boxes
wooden wind chimes
cardboard photo frame boxes
canvas pot holders
canvas tote bags
paint-your-own ceramic ornaments
With these items you need to have craft supplies like paint, glue, glitter, sequins, feathers, buttons, ribbon, pom-poms, etc. for people to put on their item. The Oriental Trading Company catalog also offers craft kits that come with everything needed for people to assemble their own items such as ornaments, pins, and magnets.
If the item costs about $1, and the decorations cost about $1, then if you can get people to pay $4 you will make $2 on each item.
Here are some other craft ideas:
1. Provide the makings for people to create their own greeting cards, postcards and/or stationery. You could include cute photos of rats copied on a color printer. (You can copy several pictures on the same page to save money.) Provide glitter, beads, feathers etc. to dress up the cards. If you have a collection of rubber stamps, you could offer the use of those too.
2. Let people make their own rat ornament. A half a walnut shell can be the body with the tail, ears, eyes and nose made from various materials and glued on the walnut shell. (Contact us for instructions.)
3. You can make rats out of simple salt and flour clay, either by forming them or cutting them out with a cookie cutter, and then let people paint their own. Or you can let people make their own clay rats. You can buy a rat cookie cutter at krittersinthemailbox.com.
4. Around Halloween you can let people make their own rat masks out of craft foam. (Contact us for instructions.)
(Thanks to RFC member Danielle Stanley of Glendale, AZ for most of these ideas!)
For each of these items, you can ask for donations, or you can charge a set fee. Depending on the going rate of similar things in your area, I would think you would want to charge maybe a $1 or $2, with maybe more for the clay figure and the instant photo. See if you can find a craft store or other business willing to donate some of the supplies or film. Then all the money you take in will be profit.
For most events you will have to supply your own table. Two or three card tables can be placed next to each other and covered with a table cloth. You will need chairs for the volunteers running the booth, and maybe chairs for the customers, depending on how long it will take them to make their craft.
If you don't have a table to use, you can just lay a blanket or large beach towels on the ground for the craft area. Danielle did this for her craft booth and it worked well.
You will need a sign to tell what you are offering, as well as the name of the Rat Assistance & Teaching Society. An easel standing behind a table will make the sign easy for people to read. A sign hanging on the front of the table will usually be overlooked, especially when people are standing in front of the table. Don't forget to get some brochures from us ahead of time to hand out.
If you need help finding volunteers to help at your booth, let us know and we can try to put you in touch with other local rat lovers. We can also put a notice here on the website.
When you decide to have an event, be sure to let us know ahead of time so we can put in on the calendar!