Example of a rate. Photo via Pexels

There were 78 rats found living in squalor inside a van and they were moved safely to the San Diego Humane Society Tuesday.

The rats were found June 1 in the van’s seats, in the dashboard and inside dirty terrariums, according to Nina Thompson of the society.

Escondido police contacted the society’s Humane Law Enforcement saying they had towed a van in the overnight hours to the organization’s Escondido campus. Police had been alerted to the vehicle in a hotel parking lot with expired registration plates and noticed the van had animals living inside.

Humane officers and animal care staff wore protective gear and were able to get 23 adult rats and seven babies out on the first day.

Other rats were hiding in the dashboard, seating and lining of the vehicle and had to be captured with food traps over several days in order to be rescued. Humane society staff will continue to monitor the traps daily, as they believe additional rats may be hiding in the van.

Humane officers have been in touch with the owner of the van and animals. Because she agreed to surrender all animals to the nonprofit organization, officers will not be recommending any charges be filed.

“This was a sad situation all around,” said Lt. Regina Price with Humane Law Enforcement. “The owner had fallen on hard times and was unable to properly care for the animals.”

Once vaccinated and medically released, the rats will be placed up for adoption at San Diego Humane Society’s campuses in Escondido, El Cajon, Oceanside and San Diego.

–City News Service