Fancyratz | Teen Ink


April 23, 2019
By afortier BRONZE, New Orleans, Louisiana
afortier BRONZE, New Orleans, Louisiana
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I walked briskly across the asphalt with my head down, hoping that I would reach my mother’s car before the tears began to escape my eyes.

Thoughts of all of my third-grade classmates’ eyes staring at me filled my head and made me dizzy. Tears welled in my eyes as I recalled her snickering as she told the other kids that my pet had rabies and that I was probably infected as well. She had even told my classmates that she wasn’t allowed to go to one girl’s birthday party this weekend because I was going to be there and might contaminate the party. Although I tried my hardest to contain the anguish, I began to sob uncontrollably the second the car door slammed shut. Notably shaken, I asked my mom why that girl was being so mean, and how she could say such horrible things? I did not have any diseases as she claimed and neither did my pet. I could not understand why someone would concoct such foul lies, or how people could be so cruel and hateful about something I thought of as so beautiful and special?

Throughout my life, I have always been an animal lover, and by “animal” I mean all species. From snakes and creepy, crawly bugs, to fluffy little bunnies, I have always had an equal appreciation and fascination for all living creatures. I was always the kid, who saved butterflies and lizards on the playground that were subject to harassment and torture by other children, but I never thought much about my attitude towards animals until I had my first pet rat. It was not until I had a pet that people typically viewed as vile and disgusting, that I realized how little people knew about species that have negative stereotypes.

I had difficulty understanding speciest thinking because I never had a preconceived notion about rats. My rat, Templeton,  was as white as cotton, except for her gray face which made her appear as though she was ready for a masquerade, and she was my best friend. Wherever I went, Templeton came too. She would ride on my shoulder like a proud epaulette.  Just as any child loves their dog, I loved my rat. I was amazed by her intelligence and amused by her wit. For such a tiny little thing, she possessed so much personality. Although kids would sometimes jeer at me for having a pet rat, I usually just brushed it off and corrected their rodent misconceptions with facts. I spent tons of my spare time reading books, articles, and even watching documentaries on rats. I soon became a human encyclopedia on the species Rattus. My strategy of defense through information worked well for a while until one of the mean girls at my school adjusted her strategy for mockery. When she began spreading rumors that my rat had rabies and that I was infected as well, I was emotionally affected.  I was hurt and heartbroken by what my classmates were saying, but what really perplexed me, was how my classmates could not see in my pet all the good that I could see.

Since that time in third grade, I began to see the prejudice that many people hold towards certain animals, and it has become my passion in life to be a voice for animals, for those who cannot speak for themselves. All animals, in my eyes, are unique and deserve respect. My hope is to help correct the misconceptions that people have about certain species with traditionally negative connotations, such as rats, by showing the positive sides of these individual animals. As part of my quest, I have adopted the name Fancyratz as a social media handle and have utilized those platforms to launch a PR campaign for the good of these unfortunate species. In my eyes, all animals are unique and deserve respect. I have grown to overcome the upset I felt after the incident in third grade, and I am not ashamed of my passion to help animals. I am proud to be a defender of the voiceless. So, it brings a genuine smile to my face when I am called Fancyratz.    

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