SAN DIEGO — California residents banded together to help a woman who was living in her van with hundreds of pet rats, with nowhere to turn.
San Diego residents were first alerted to the woman’s situation outside a Del Mar convenience store, where she works. Carla was living in her van with two pet rats after becoming homeless, neighbor Kimberly Jackson told 10News Reporter Rachel Bianco.
The two rats had babies and the situation grew out of hand. The rodents eventually totaled more than 300. The animals chewed through the wiring of the van, rendering it inoperable.
“Everywhere,” said Danee Cok, San Diego Humane Society officer. “There was not one place in the van where they had not gotten into — the wiring, the engine. They came and went from the engine area. She was extremely helpful during the entire process as well. She did love her pets. She just let it get out of hand and she became overwhelmed.”
Video of the rats scurrying across the van’s dashboard surfaced on NextDoor, catching the attention of neighbors like Jackson.
“She said, ‘Are you here to ridicule me, like everybody else?'” Jackson told 10News. “I saw what was going on in there, and said, ‘How can we help you?’ There were like 300 rats in that van.”
Jackson and other neighbors stepped in, helping Carla tow her van from the parking lot. Officials with the San Diego Humane Society then removed the rats, which were healthy and placed up for adoption.
The acts of kindness went even further to help Carla.
Neighbors set up a GoFundMe account that raised nearly $5,000 for Carla. Another neighbor donated a vehicle. They were also working to connect her with needed resources and housing.
“She’s just a gentle, gentle person,” Jackson said. “Nobody knew she was homeless. She’s contributing to society and she fell on hard times. Everybody can use a little help now and then.”