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On the front page of my paper, and all over the news:


Matilda the rat has been banned from rat-free Alberta, but she's already found a new home in B.C.

The pet rat will return to its birthplace after the Vancouver-based Little Mischief Rescue Society agreed to save her from possible death in Calgary.

On Friday, Matilda will fly in a double-locked cage to Vancouver with a volunteer, who is covering the expense.

"It's an animal, it deserves to be taken care of," rescue society spokeswoman Simone Bur said. "We're kind of like the end of the line. If we say no, it means the rat's going to die. It's absolutely heartbreaking."

Rats aren't welcome in Alberta, which has made strenuous efforts to keep the province free of the rodents.

But neither Matilda — nor her owners — knew that when the family moved across the Rockies.

When they discovered pet rats weren't wanted in their new province, Matilda's owners handed her over to Calgary animal services.

She could have faced death. But instead the fit and friendly Matilda was given a deportation order to B.C.

"She's social, she doesn't bite ... that's what brought us to this decision," Calgary bylaw and animal services chief Bill Bruce said.

The city has an obligation to kill all rats, but this is a special case.

Bur's society has given sanctuary to rats from Calgary before and has a good relationship with that city's animal services.

Matilda got lucky after Vancouver's Kim Roy e-mailed the society last weekend looking for a new female rat because hers had died. The rescue society doesn't have a shelter and relies on a network of rat-loving volunteers to take in the strays.

Matilda won't go to Roy's home until she's spent three weeks in quarantine and has been spayed.

Roy said Matilda will be a companion for her blind rat, Batman, after her female Maizy died. "I will be so happy to have her as she seems sweet and should get along with Batman," she said in an e-mail.

The rescue society has accepted 400 rats since it was founded in 2007. But the number of abandoned rats is much higher, Bur said. "It's become a huge problem here in B.C.," she said.

Not so in Alberta, which has fought to keep rats outside its borders since the 1950s. Although the rodents can't get across the Rockies, they often scurry into the province by jumping shipping containers or RVs, Bruce said.

Alberta hires rat patrollers to keep the varmints at bay. When they see them, they shoot to kill.


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I didn't know Alberta was striving to be rodent free. :confused0071:

News to me! :jump:

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We've been rat free for years as a matter of government policy.

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