Mouse used as “white elephant” gift in Utah County now in foster care

Dec 13, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2023, 11:43 am

A small white mouse, now named Elf, was brought to a pet store in Provo this week, by a man who sai...

This mouse was brought to a pet store in Provo this week, by a man who said he'd received the mouse as a white elephant gift. (Amy Sly)

(Amy Sly)

SALT LAKE CITY — The organizer of Wasatch Wanderers Animal Rescue doesn’t know how long a little white mouse was kept in a mason jar, breathing through holes punched in the lid.

She doesn’t know if the animal was tossed around in the jar, or dropped, or shaken. But she says that’s likely.

Adison Smith does know the mouse was recently offered as a white elephant gift, and that it was injured. On Monday, Dec. 11, the man who “won” the mouse took it to a PetCo in Orem, but without a receipt, the store couldn’t officially take the mouse.  

But an employee did, and then she called Smith.

“This jar was barely big enough for him to turn around,” Smith told KSL NewsRadio. “Who knows how long he was in there for.”

The store employee and Smith agreed — the employee would foster the mouse, now named Elf. 

Giving animals as gifts isn’t uncommon

This isn’t an uncommon story for Smith. “Right after Christmas, either grandparents bought their grandkids gifts and the parents weren’t okay with it.”

“This time of year, it’s winter formal. A lot of kids think it’s funny to ask with animals,” Smith said. 

Until they’re faced with raising chickens or ducks after the dance.

The Animal Control Supervisor with Provo Police, Sgt. Jayson Swenson, said he recently got a call about hundreds of goldfish that had been placed in individual paper cups and left on someone’s door steps.

While nobody wants to read about an animal being mistreated, Swenson said that they’d have to prove an intent to harm the animal, to bring charges against someone using an animal in this way.

“We get a lot of parents calling, really frustrated,” Smith said, “saying ‘my daughter was just asked to prom with four baby ducks. We don’t want ducks.'”

When that happens, it can take weeks or even months for a foster or rescue agency to make or find space for the animals in question. 

“Animals aren’t props,” Smith said. “They shouldn’t be used to ask people for things.”

Elf the mouse is now in foster care. When it has recuperated, Wasatch Wanderers will try to find it a home.

Other reading: Utah animal rights case raising questions about the American food system

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Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Mouse used as “white elephant” gift in Utah County now in foster care