DC dog owners take rat problem into their own hands

  • Washington, DC officials received thousands of rat infestation complaints
  • A volunteer group of dog owners hunt the rats
  • 'Ratscallions' leader: 'We're just basically helping the community'

(NewsNation) — The Washington, D.C. Department of Health has received thousands of rat infestation reports. Instead of complaining about the issue, one group is putting their four-legged friends to work.

Linda Freeman leads the “Ratscallions” – a volunteer group that walks their dogs around DC to find and kill rats in the district’s streets and alleyways. Freeman estimates there are about five rats for every person in Washington.

“Everywhere we go, we hear cheers. People yell at us like, ‘Yeah, the rat people, the rat people!’ Honestly though, we’re just volunteers on the streets,” Freeman told NewsNation Natasha Zouves.

Freeman, a dog breeder, said the group is not going into businesses or homes.

“We’re just basically helping the community and training our dogs,” she said, later adding: “It’s rather important to me that my champion show dogs can do the job that they’re originally bred to do.”

Freeman says hunting the vermin comes naturally to the dogs.

“It’s so much more fair to the rat and more kind to the rat, and it’s how nature intended a predator to handle the four-legged protein source that is a rat,” Freeman said.

According to Freeman, the dogs do not eat the rats. They are shaken and placed in a garbage bag.

The “Ratscallions” have been hard at work for around five years and average handling about a dozen rats each week.

DC Health says residents with complaints about rodents should call the Citywide Call Center at 311 and request the report be sent to DC Health.

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