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The Rat Retreat

Cause Area

  • Animals
  • Board Development
  • Community


PO Box 90853512 Kingsland WayBoise, ID 83707 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

The Rat Retreat’s mission is to champion the rights of rats across the world through education, outreach, adoption, health research, and hospice. We seek to eliminate abuse and improper breeding; to assist with educated adoptions; to reduce disease leading to early death; to educate consumers and pet stores about proper handling and maintenance; and, to provide companionship and on-going care for abandoned and sick rats.


The Rat Retreat, Inc, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was founded in Boise and nurtured through the love and dedication of Dawn Burke. After years of commitment to the cause, The Rat Retreat, Inc. has established a global footprint - helping rats and educating the public from Idaho to Wisconsin to Ireland and Singapore.

The Rat Retreat currently operates two sanctuaries in private homes and a network of foster homes in multiple states where care is provided for domestic rats who have been abandoned, bred as "feeder" or lab rats, advertised for adoption or re-homing, or have owners who are no longer able/willing to care for them.

In addition to food, shelter and medical treatment, the animals receive nurturing attention in a home with maximum human interaction and an abundance of space for housing and play. We aim to give the rats in our care the highest quality life possible and our volunteers are vital in achieving this.

By volunteering you will have the opportunity to earn service hours and add valuable experience to your resume and successful volunteers will be eligible for reference letters for employment and school. Not only do the rats benefit, but our volunteers do as well!

We are excited to hear from you and discover how you can play a part in our growing organization!


Would you recommend The Rat Retreat?
4 reviews Write a review
by Dian R. (May 13, 2014)
My daughter was required to complete eight hours of volunteer work for school. After a few weeks of research and my pushing her in a different direction, she chose The Rat Retreat. Fast forward a year and a half and she hasn't missed a Saturday. Who knew that rats are incredibly smart, clean and crave human interaction, each with their own unique personality? Dawn is selfless in running The Rat Retreat and makes sure the volunteers know how thankful she is for their time. Although Dawn tells us often how much the work we are doing is helping the rats, I think my daughter and I are the ones that have benefited the most from volunteering at The Rat Retreat.
by KayCee C. (May 10, 2014)
The people at The Rat Retreat have been incredibly helpful! They've helped me report animal hoarding and they've helped me when one of my rats was injured. They really do put their heart and soul into saving these wonderful creatures....no matter how far away they are.
by Jeni M. (September 27, 2012)
We found the Rat Retreat on Facebook. We started communicating with Dawn and heard what wonderful things she was doing for Rats. We planned a trip to Idaho to start our volunteering this past week. We plan to visit the retreat when we can and will help virtually to support the great work being done onsite. While onsite we personally helped give medications to the ones needing it and socialized with the 23 rats currently at the retreat. We ended up taking 3 of the adoptable boys home with us to join our family! The rats are very well cared for in a clean, happy environment where volunteers will have a great experience helping with rat care or any of the other volunteer opportunities which are updated regularily on the Volunteer match site. You'd be suprised to learn what goes into running the Rat Retreat and what good you can do with your skills by offering a few hours of your time.
by Courtney S. (May 1, 2011)
I have been volunteering with the Rat Retreat for about three months now, six hours a week. Dawn Burke is one of the most selfless people you will ever meet, and I would encourage anyone to come help her out. Also if animals are intriguing to you, this is definitely the place for you. There is no feeling that can parallel that of curing a sickness that has plagued a sick rat for months. When I started I had no previous knowledge of rats, or how to care for them. Dawn was there every step of the way to help me learn how to help these cute rats. She will make you feel extremely welcome, and will never go a day without letting you know how much you have helped her. This is one of the most rewarding volunteering experiences I have ever had.

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