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4 years ago

The Beginning The idea for the Rat Assistance & Teaching Society (R.A.T.S.) started in 2002. Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun, founder of The Rat Fan Club, wanted to expand the goals of the club to educate not just rat owners, but the pet care professionals who funnel pet care information and attitudes to rat owners: veterinarians, pet shop staff, and animal shelters. "Rat owners are willing to search out information about rat care," said Debbie, "and are even willing to pay for this information. But pet care professionals may not have the time to search for information or be willing to pay for it. The best way to educate these people is to send information directly to them." Because sending information to pet care professionals costs money, Debbie decided to start a new non-profit group to hopefully take advantage of grant money that might be available. Non-profit status also makes donations tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The Formative Steps The first step was to form a corporation. To choose a name for the organization, Debbie "The Rat Lady" appealed to the members of The Rat Fan Club. The name Rat Assistance & Teaching Society was finally chosen through a contest. A contest was also held to find a logo for R.A.T.S. The winning designer was RFC member Jussi Maugle of Upper Black Eddy, PA. Next Debbie approached several active Rat Fan Club members in northern California to see if they would be interested in being on the board of directors for the new non-profit. Seven members agreed and created and filed the paperwork (Articles of Incorporation and By-laws) to register R.A.T.S. as a corporation in the state of California. Next, the paperwork to file for tax-exempt status with both California and the federal government was filled out and sent in. In May 2003 we received our official tax-exempt status! Pet Shops (A checkmark in front of an item indicates it has been done) Make brochures promoting rats as pets and their proper care available to pet shops to hand out. Develop care sheets for pet shops to hand out. Send rat care information to pet shops on request. Place ads in pet trade magazines to inform pet shop personnel that this information is available. Rent a booth at national pet industry conventions to give out information to pet shop owners and managers. Veterinary Hospitals Place ads in veterinary magazines to inform hospital staff that information about rats, specifically Debbie's Rat Health Care booklet, is available. Rent a booth at veterinary conferences to give out and sell information to veterinarians and veterinary staff. Publish articles on the treatment of rat diseases in veterinary magazines. Contact veterinary schools to discuss adding rat information to curricula. Animal Shelters Write guidelines for rat care at the shelter. Develop suggested policies for taking in and adopting out pet rats. Contact shelters to send them this information. Create a publicity campaign shelters can use to increase adoptions of pet rats. Rent a booth at shelter industry conferences to give out information to shelter personnel

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