Seminole County woman fighting to save pet rats



A Seminole County woman will not be fined $1,000 a day while she fights her homeowners association to keep her pet rats, WFTV found out Friday.      

Jody Oakes said she has kept them in her Altamonte Springs condo for years. However, Oakes said she received a letter ordering her rats out starting Friday.

Oakes said she appealed the homeowner's association's decision.

But the property manager agreed not to fine her during the appeal process.

"They just bring me such joy. They're so funny," said Oakes.

Oakes said she has six rats, which she has had as pets for the past four years. She has owned her condo for 22 years, she said.

"I called you. I'm fighting for them. They're everything to me," Oakes said to WFTV reporter Bianca Castro.

According to management, "Normal household pets less than 40 pounds," are allowed. They said rats are not normal pets.

Most animal groups, even the Humane Society, consider rats as legitimate pets, just like guinea pigs or hamsters. And they can be purchased at just about any pet store.

WFTV went to the property manager for answers.

"Isn't a rat a household animal?" Castro asked the condo manager.

"I'm not attorney. I couldn't tell you. To be honest with you, this is the first time I've come upon, in all my time in this business, anybody having rats in a unit.

She told us she just found out about the pet rodents and is following the direction of her attorney, who defines household pets as birds, fish, cats or dogs.

"They're awesome, and they bring happiness to my life and they bring joy to my life," said Oakes.    

Oakes said her rats are even registered with the North American Rat Registry.

However, Oaks said if she loses her appeal she will find another home for the rats because she can't afford to take the matter to court.