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from Ben Cost – New York Post.
Man’s best friend = rat’s worst enemy.
New York City has turned to an unlikely ally in the fight against the city’s mounting rodent problem: pet dogs.
Unfortunately, the Big Apple’s resident rat population has become even more aggressive during the coronavirus lockdown due to the shortage of trash caused by shuttered restaurants. To combat the scourge, a group known as Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (R.A.T.S.), is enlisting concerned citizens and their beloved pooches to track down and kill the pesky pests.
“We have a policy: Any time we get a call or an email or anything, we at least go check it out,” Richard Reynolds, who founded R.A.T.S. almost 30 years ago, tells The Post. The group even does house calls.
But right now, NYC has an especially “huge rat problem,” R.A.T.S. volunteer James Hoffman tells Cheddar news service, adding that this enables them to do what they do best. Which is, according to the their Facebook page, recruiting “Border Terriers, Norfolk Terriers, Fox Terriers and Dachshunds” and other rat-catching breeds to “seek and destroy vermin.”
The vigilante group ventures out regularly in response to any citizen’s or even city official’s call, and sicks their furry exterminators on the vermin until the problem is no more.
Reynolds says any breed of dog can join the hunt, however some canines are better equipped to cull rats than others. “Terriers have an innate sense to do this, it’s in their genes,” Reynolds says.
Others require more practice. In one of the more hilarious mishaps, one hapless rat catcher caught a bagel and not a rat during his first outing, reports Cheddar.
And the pest-purging pups work best in a pack with one of the usually smaller, “pointer pooches” flushing out the rats while the other dogs surround the critter and kill it.
Setting the hounds on other animals might sound barbaric, but it’s more effective than poison or glue traps, reports Cheddar. Indeed, rat terriers, which were a fixture on farms in the early 1900s, can reportedly cull 100 varmints in one day, reports Modern Farmer.
“We’re offering a very quick, not painless to be sure, but at least quick and merciful death,” says Reynolds of the unorthodox pest control measure.
Still, while hunting rats is not illegal in NYC, getting permission is difficult, which means the group must operate covertly. Reynolds equates their modus operandi to “Mission Impossible” where “the guy would go into the phone booth and the phone would ring and it says this tape will self-destruct in five minutes and we don’t even know you.”
“That’s kind of the way we work with the city.”
Suffice to say, the ruff-riding rat hunters have got their work cut out for them in the time of the coronavirus.
“With the redistribution of the food supply the rats are redistributing,” Reynolds tells the Post, referencing the COVID-caused restaurant closures. “So let’s say we hunted a dumpster out behind a given restaurant, we don’t hunt there anymore.”
Even worse, in the absence of trash, many rodents are turning eating their own kind: “These rats are fighting with one another; now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups,” says Bobby Corrigan, a rodentologist who specializes in urban vermin.
Fortunately, R.A.T.S. is hoping to stem the plague in a way that benefits both man and dog. “We help out the community secondary to it,” says R.A.T.S. volunteer James Hoffman. “First is for the dogs, second we help out people.”
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠