5 On Your Side

Rats! Man Seeks Help to Rid Home of Rodents

Posted June 11, 2007 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated June 12, 2007 11:15 a.m. EDT

— Rich Martin said his house and yard are overrun by rats. But he can't get anyone to solve the problem, so he called 5 on Your Side.

"They came into my home at night. Whole loaves of bread were missing," Martin said. "I think they're disgusting. They make my skin crawl."

A trashed, overgrown field down the street from his home is a major part of the rodent problem, he said. He took a video at dusk that showed rats scurrying throughout the vacant lot.

Martin said he has tried repeatedly to find someone to help take care of the problem. But city inspectors, animal control officers and real estate agents also pointed him in a different direction, he said.

"I just want whoever is responsible for this to be responsible and clean it up," he said.

So, Martin called 5 on Your Side, which got the Durham City/County Department of Neighborhood Development to send a warning letter to the owner of the overgrown lot.

The property owner was given 15 days to clear it, or the city would clean it up and send the owner the bill.

A worker who said he was hired by the property owner mowed the lot Monday.

But that's only part of the solution.

A Durham County Health Department employee said that, to get rid of rats, trash and food sources, such as dog food, need to be cleared from the neighborhood.

The health department can't poison the rats -- if the poison gets into the wrong mouths, the county could be legally liable -- but officials said they would meet with Martin, his neighbors and the lot owner to help them devise a rat removal plan.