On a freezing night in late December, a group a of dog-lovers gathered on a quiet corner by a park in lower Manhattan.
Their purpose? To deploy their household pets as soldiers in the never-ending war against New York City’s legendary population of rats.
Mike Rowe, host of CNN’s “Somebody’s Got To Do It,” spent an evening with the group, which calls itself R.A.T.S. (Ryder’s Alley Trencher-fed Society), last year.
Speaking with TheBlaze, Rowe described the nocturnal outing as something “unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
Content warning: Video contains graphic images
“Mild manner little terriers, these loyal pets are transformed into the hound of the Baskervilles,” said Rowe. “Together they go into the city and they start killing rats.”
[sharequote align=”right”]”Mild manner little terriers, these loyal pets are transformed into the hound of the Baskervilles.”[/sharequote]
“[W]hile the city is doing all sorts of interesting things in the category of vermin abatement, the frontline battle is going on after dark with terriers completely waging a holy war on the unseen scourge of New York City,” continued Rowe.
Matt Combs, a graduate student and research assistant who studies the city’s rodent population at Fordham University often attends the hunts where he collects DNA samples to help track the rodents’ migrations.
Combs said that the real problem occurs when the city’s millions of rats lose fear for the more than 8 million human inhabitants.
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“There’s some flip switches where they are just not afraid anymore,” said Combs. “[T]hat’s what you don’t want.”
Richard Reynolds, a main organizer for the group, said that while the numbers their dogs are able to destroy are relatively low, it actually cast a much longer shadow on future populations due to their high fertility rates.
“The two rats we took tonight is the same of take 24,000 next year,” said Reynolds.
Yet despite the progress R.A.T.S and city officials have made, the rodents remains one of the most common sights for New Yorker City residents and visitors.
“All we know is its almost impossible for a New Yorker be anywhere at any time and not be within five-feet of a rat,” said Rowe.