“I couldn’t stand it,” he told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa. “I took the rat out of the cage and got to know it.”
After that, Dier was hooked on the rodents, which he described as gentle, lovable and an endless source of entertainment. He later bought four more at the pet store _ but didn’t think to spay or neuter them.
Last week, animal control officers discovered more than 1,300 rats in Dier’s small one-bedroom Petaluma home, after a neighbor complained about the foul smell. He was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Dier, 67, said depression, loneliness, denial and a recent bout of flu and bronchitis kept him from maintaining control of the fast-breeding population.