It’s one of those boring mid-week days and you want to take the family out for a bite to eat, so you grab the wife and kids and pile into the gutter and head, feet first, for the nearest trash pickup corner. Thinking about those juicy eight-day leftovers when you arrive (stomach growling) to your shock the door, or in this case the lid is closed tight.
No goodies tonight, at least not at this corner. That’s the goal of Baltimore County Chief of Code Enforcement’s Director Mr. Lionel Van Dommellen.
The enforcement/eradication program is having an impact especially in one of the hard hit areas of the county known as West Inverrness (also known as the ABC streets).
Rats and the problem they create have long been a problem in BalItimore County especially on the east side. Mr. Van Dommellen intends to put a stop to that problem. He hopes to accomplish this by a strong code enforcement effort along with eradication which is having a direct impact not only on the east side but in other areas of the county as well.
“The county executive appropriated the funds for the next five years,” Mr. Van Dommellen said, and that will be one of the key ingredients in fighting this problem.
Before we get to the numbers let’s take a look at the suspects we know as - you dirty rats!
Rats are the scourge of our communities. They carry disease and attack the stability of a community. Their reproduction is astonishing. In ideal conditions, two rats could have 1 million babies.
According to a Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health study, rats are known to carry the Hantavirus which is a very serious disease for humans. They can infect other hosts in reservoirs and other bodies of water where marine life can transfer the virus to humans.
So you see how serious the problem is?
With that in mind we must be vigilant and that is where code enforcement comes in.
The word is out and when money comes into play it travels fast.
To show you how effective the enforcement effort is, here are some quick stats. Van Dommellen stated, “In the first sweep of West Inverness there were 112 $250 citations issued for trash can violations. The second week there was 65 citations issued. The third week 50 citations were issued and interestingly the fourth week of the sweep there were only 25 issued.”
Think people are getting the message? You can’t track the numbers of the rat population but you can track the number of complaints and when they along with the number of citations issued are down and you keep a close inspection on the area seeing less and less rats is a sign that the program is working.
Mr. Van Dommellen said “there is still work to be done and it is an ongoing battle” but he feels his efforts and the efforts of his devoted team are paying off.
When I asked him about the acceptable type of trash can he said the requirement is one that cans be made of either aluminum, steel or rat-resistant rubber. The cans must have a lid when placed even if you place them out the morning of the pickup.
I told him of complaints regarding the lids being lost and he responded to affix a bungee cord or similar device to keep the lid and can together after the trash collector goes by.
Reminds me of the old movies when you heard the words - you dirty rat - followed by gunfire, the rat was dead.
Let’s hope so.