Has PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) lost their minds? According to a DNA Info story, PeTA is all upset about Chicago’s most recent effort to control rat population. In fact, at least according to the DNA piece, PeTA feels rats deserve protection. Well, they’re not exactly an endangered species.
Years ago (I recall it was 1997) then new technology to kill fleas on pets was introduced. Far safer to people and pets, and more effective – I cheered, but received a nastigram from PeTA (handwritten), maintaining I am “cruel” not to give fleas an opportunity to enjoy their lives. I wrote back with facts, indicating fleas on dogs and cats cause extreme discomfort, even illness, and once in a home they bite people too. I also indicated the diseases which fleas may carry.
PeTA really hasn’t had much credibility in the veterinary or animal welfare arena for years – and no wonder.
PeTA points out that Norway rats (the kind found in big cities like Chicago) are intelligent and have real emotions. True enough – and I concede that’s more than I can say for fleas.
Efforts by Chicago and other cities are merely to control vermin populations, as to eliminate them might be impossible. Rats have co-existed with people for thousands of years. And it’s been said (and likely true) that they may out-survive us as a species.
For a long list of reasons, rat numbers appear to be on the rise in the City.
Note – I said appear to be on the rise. In fact, they are likely on the rise, but some of what you see in Chicago are rats coming out of hiding due to construction and infra-structure work, which otherwise might remain hidden.
At one point the City blamed dog owners for rat numbers. That’s like blaming the Cubs success this season on the White Sox lack of success. One thing mostly has nothing to do with the other. Rats will eat about anything, including dog feces, but nutritionally they can’t survive on it, and apparently (and understandably) they don’t like it. After all, in Chicago most trash cans have plastic lids (easy to chew threw), even metal lids may not be closed, most residential cans on streets don’t have lids at all, and plastic recycle bags are simple to get into. Rats relish berries from trees and bird seed, not to mention a long list of other menu items. When overpopulated and hungry, they’ll eat their own young before they eat dog poop.
Yes – dog owners should pick up – but that won’t impact rat numbers.
The City promised to double-down on rat poison. That can help. But there are some issues there. Dogs and children can get into the rodenticide. Also, once killed, other rats come across the body and instantly recognize what killed their comrade, and they learn not to be tempted. Yup, they are that smart.
So, what does the City do? Well, more trash cans with metal covers would be nice, an obvious solution I would think. But for reasons I don’t understand – that’s not happening. It’s a pretty simple answer I would think.
In Chicago (and a handful of cities), feral cats are put to work to fend off the rats – but the program isn’t perfect, but it can help. Unfortunately, unrelated to anything but their own issues, many question the Chicago agency operating that program.
But an idea that’s reportedly worked elsewhere is dry ice. As the dry ice warms into a gas, it suffocates the trapped rats, leaving them to decompose in the holes — away from people.
And that is what prompted PeTA’s rat defense, citing the method as ineffective and inhumane. Well, if indeed it really is working in other cities, then it is effective. As for being inhumane, not sure that’s true. But no matter, what do you do?
Do you let the rats continue to thrive?
It’s a fact – Norway rats (different that cute domestic pet rats) do spread disease. And when their numbers become very high, rats may get indoors, turning up in people’s bathrooms or kitchens via piping. Remember, this is an animal that lives in sewers.
So, yes – PeTA is correct – rats have emotions and they’re smart. But they can also harm people, the environment and other animals. And while rats rarely bite people (or pets), it’s not unknown.
While the City may want to eradicate all rats – I know they realize that’s never going to happen. But keeping their numbers in check makes sense to me for public health reasons if nothing else.
PeTA’s argument carries little weight, and only characterizes them as kind of “off-the-deep-end.”
Meanwhile, I need to go – to offer our pets flea and tick protection….and heartworm too. Or is killing mosquitoes now considered offensive?