The Denver Animal Shelter, by now famous for its creative naming of adoptable and sometimes unconventional pets, has struck gold again. Meet Ratticus Finch, an albino rat who could be your new best friend.
He’s a little shy, but during a recent portrait shoot it became clear he is willing to warm if you offer him a Cheerio.
It’s a weird time at the shelter, but not because of this rat named for a fictional attorney with a complicated history with race.
No. Like a lot of 2020, it’s the pandemic that’s upended things in the city’s pet headquarters.
When the coronavirus began shutting everything down, the shelter started clearing out as many animals as possible. Denver Animal Protection’s Lieutenant Josh Rolfe said they were bracing for the possibility that animals would flood the facility. The fear, he said, was that entire families could be hospitalized with nobody to care for their pets. His staff set up an “isolation ward” to accept animals that might otherwise be orphaned temporarily.
“We just planned for the worst,” he said.
Luckily, the worst didn’t happen.
But to make room, and because many shelter employees could no longer come to the office, many of the pets in Denver’s care before the pandemic went to foster homes. Rolfe said they had more volunteers than they had pets; about 600 people signed up to be temporary parents for dogs and cats. Many, he said, ended up getting adopted for the long haul.
These days, the rows of kennels that are usually full of barking friends are quiet. On Friday, there were just a few dogs, a pigeon name Berrie, a white rabbit named Bunnicula, a few turtles and a handful of roosters up for adoption. And, of course, Ratticus Finch.
Rolfe said their population numbers are beginning to rise. Adoptions have opened up again, though shelter hours are limited and future animal parents are still not allowed to browse beyond the main reception area.
He added that Denverites seem to be very interested in adopting pets. They list new adoptees every morning and, he said, “they’re usually gone by 1 p.m.”
So act quick if you’d like Atticus. By the time he was done having his portrait taken, Berrie the pigeon had already been adopted.