Huge rat saved by brave teenager after Belfast street kicking
21:37, 13 Nov 2016
Updated 21:37, 13 Nov 2016
By Jilly Beattie
Lace Hollingworth gathered the rat in her work apron and walked miles to get it to a vet
Beauty and the beastie
A brave Belfast teenager rescued a huge street rat from a kicking by wrapping it in her work apron before taking it for veterinary treatment.
Lace Hollingworth was walking to work in the city centre when she spotted a large crowd that had gathered were looking at something on the ground.
She says as she approached she witnessed a middle aged man repeatedly kick a large brown rat across the pavement at Royal Avenue.
Lace, 19, said: “I have never seen anything so cruel. I could hear the rat squealing and the man just kept kicking it with great force, like it was a football.
Kind hearted Lace carried the injured rat for miles to get it help
“I shouted at him to leave the rat alone and ran to shield the rat from him. It was writhing in pain on the pavement and covered in blood. I think it was paralysed in fear. So much for the myth that a cornered rat will attack. This one was stock still.
“I screamed at him to stop but no one else said a word. The rat was just lying on the pavement breathing fast, bloody and broken so I pushed through the crowd and placed my work apron over it. People started to walk away and the man who' been kicking the rat just disappeared with them.
“I didn’t know what to do so I gathered the rat up in my apron and started to carry it to work. That’s when I realised just how big it was.
“It was about a foot in length and filled my arms even without its tail. I thought I could at least get it into a cardboard box until I could work out what to do next. I couldn't just leave it to die there in agony.
“I walked to my work at Lush and when I got there my colleagues were so worried because I was crying and obviously very distressed.
“I explained to them what had happened and they looked astonished that I had picked up a rat.
The injured rat wrapped in Lace's work apron
“But it was just laying in my arms peeping out and I really think it knew that it was safe with me.
“Of course I couldn’t take it into work because of health and safety rules and then a lady caught up with me and said she would pay for the rat to be seen by a vet.
“We tried to get a taxi but no taxi would take me and this wild rat anywhere so I just started walking and finally after about 30 minutes I got to a vet in Ormeau.”
Lace, who moved from her native South Africa to Ballymena 17 years ago, is a practising vegan and says her actions last Friday were true to her belief that all living beings should be treated with love and dignity - including a Belfast city street rat.
She explained: “There was no need for anyone to be cruel to the rat. I know some people are squeamish about them but they have a right to live like anything else.
“And they certainly do not need to be kicked and tortured in front of a crowd that does nothing to stop it.
“I had to act. I could not ignore this cruelty and I hope the authorities catch up with the man who kicked this animal and deal with him. It was unnecessary suffering.
"If he'd been in my house, I'd name him Henry and bought him toys. All animals can feel love and pain and deserve the right to live."
Lace took the rat to a veterinary clinic where the animal was placed in a cage and given time to come round.
She said: “It was moving around when I left and seemed OK although its legs looked in bad shape and part of its tail was missing.
“I had to get cleaned up and go to work but I called the vet later and they explained to me that the rat had suffered extensive internal injuries and bleeding, and that it had been put to sleep.
A Belfast vet put the wild rat to sleep
“I was very upset and contacted the lady, Sheena Bleakney, who had offered to pay the vet’s bill and told her what had happened. She was very annoyed too but thanked me for doing my best.
“I’ll never understand how anyone could torture a vulnerable, defenceless animal. I’ll also never understand how so many people could witness such animal cruelty and not even say a word.”
Miss Bleakney, a vegan from Belfast, said: “I just gave Lace a bit of help and support and I got to stroke the poor rat.
"I just can’t understand what was wrong with the person who kicked the rat. What on earth did he think such a small creature was going to do to him?”