- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - An animal rescue operation in western Michigan has been condemned after officials say it was overrun by hundreds of rats.

Officials in Fruitport Township gave the owner of Critter Cafe Rescue until Tuesday to move out of the rental home in which she runs the animal rescue. After being told she would be barred from the building, rescue owner Christine Lea Bishop scrambled to find homes for about 150 to 200 animals, including rabbits, ducks and cats.

“I’m doing everything I can to get the animals out,” she said.

Muskegon County Sheriff Animal Control Officer Tiffany Peterson estimates that more than 1,000 rats were in the building and on the property, she told The Muskegon Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1HvWxvI ).

“You can’t see inside the walls,” Peterson said. “She’s got cages in back there that are full.”

The rat population started with a cage of pet rats left outside the building in winter, according to Bishop. She tried to feed them and get them birth control, Bishop said, but she had some trouble.

“This is not (animal) abuse,” she said. “This is an unfortunate situation that I need help with.”

A search warrant was executed and the building was condemned after the city received a call three weeks ago from someone who reported the rat infestation after trying to adopt a bird at Critter Cafe, said Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem.

“There were rats feeding on dead rats,” he said of the conditions at the animal rescue operation.

The larger animals had been cleared from the building by Tuesday evening, according to Peterson. And the rats will be caught in live traps and then passed on to animal shelters, she said.

Bishop plans on trying to reopen Critter Cafe, she told WOOD-TV (https://bit.ly/1HvWxf7 ).

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