January 1, 2009

R.I. rat dump site mystifying police

Police say they are at a loss to explain who left 280 rats either dead or dying by the side of a road in Foster, R.I.

Foster Police Chief Robert E. Coyne Jr. said after responding to calls about seemingly abandoned containers near an area road this week, officers found the rats trapped inside eight containers, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Thursday.

The stench was pretty terrible, Coyne said of Tuesday's gruesome discovery. It was pretty gross.

Veterinarian Dr. E.J. Finocchio, the head of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the rats were crammed together in various animal containers.

The SPCA official said some of the starving rats had already begun eating their dead brethren in desperation.

As authorities began their investigation into the shocking discovery, SPCA officials were forced to euthanize the 208 rats that had been clinging to life.

Finocchio told the Journal euthanizing the animals by hand was difficult but necessary given potential health risks.

They're not small creatures, he said. They're bigger than kittens.