Clinic Stories

100 Hamsters

When someone is arrested and not returning home, arrangements are made for the care of any pets. Usually a friend, neighbor or relative are available. If not, they are taken to a local shelter until they can be claimed. On occasion, the situation is less straight forward.

One Saturday night, I received a call from Animal Control. Someone had been arrested and jailed. In his home were countless hamsters, gerbils and mice that needed to be housed and the local animal shelter could not accommodate them. Late that night they were delivered to my home along with a van full of cages and habitrail. My daughter and I spent hours assembling tubes, tunnels, and cages in our garage, weighing, examining and cataloging one man’s rodent collection ranging from nursing mothers to geriatric grandfathers. I don’t recall the exact figure but including nursing pups it was over one hundred.

It sounded routine. They would be held for a few days, then picked up by the owner. It didn’t work out that way. Days became weeks, the babies grew and new litters were born, a few died. Daily calls to Animal Control became repetitive – he has not been in to sign the paperwork and has not responded to calls. The shelter found homes for a few but I became the reluctant owner of the rest. Homes were found for a few, a few more died and finally the rest went to a pet store. Getting rid of the cages was the easy part. One person took all of it. She liked the idea of connecting their hamster to every room in the house.

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