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Your Input Needed on Dundalk's Rat Problem

Baltimore County officials say "Rat Attack" is succeeding; residents say they don't see any change in the area's rat population.

Patch is working on a followup to Baltimore County's report issued recently that states Code Enforcement officials are seeing great success with their rat eradication program, now dubbed "Rat Attack."

After Patch published an article in which county officials touted the program's success, many Dundalk residents posted comments on Dundalk Patch and its Facebook page saying just the opposite.

Residents voiced frustration with trying to reach and get consistent information from Code Enforcement employees; continuing problems with neighbors who don't properly store trash; and continuing problems with junked cars and other backyard debris that provide habitat for the rodents. Residents also complain about gardens and even cars being heavily damaged by the burrowing, gnawing creatures.

Based on the comments I have received so far, I have had a preliminary interview with Code Enforcement Chief Lionel van Dommelen, and plan to meet with him this week.

If you have additional feedback about the rat eradication program or specific problems you believe are contributing to your area's rat population, please contact me at marge.neal@patch.com.

I will take your specific concerns to van Dommelen, and use that information in a followup article.

When you send an email, include a phone number so you can be interviewed by phone.

Freddy February 19, 2013 at 05:46 PM
There's the problem for every 100 people that look after the property, having the proper trash cans there are 200 people that could care less. When they send out exterminators in the neighborhoods they counties enforcement workers should be walking with them and handing out citations for all violations and clean up orders.
Shell9 February 19, 2013 at 06:12 PM
I live on/near Wise Ave. I can tell you that the rats are rampant around here. My Wiring Harness was chewed through on my car. Thankfully my car insurance covered it. It cost $1600. Once a neighbor called the Health Dept on me saying I was missing a lid (1 lid) on my trash can. One lid had blown away. I was given a warning. I drive up the road on trash night and see a bunch a green trash bags set out that are not in cans with lids. With that said..I have never seen a county truck or official or even received a letter stating that they were working on the rat problem. Like I said before...We have Delegates who live in the community..Don't they see rats out their door???? I guess they are blind to the needs of their community. Why they keep on getting elected is beyond my understanding.
Leah Bunck February 19, 2013 at 07:18 PM
The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation and 6 community associations are trying to use new methods to decrease rats and trash in the community. While we know this won't solve all the problems, we are working together to try make some change. (The group will also be hosting a resource fair on April 14 for people to learn how to deal with these issues.) We are looking for volunteers to help with this effort. The program is launching in March and is called 'Don't Trash Our Dundak'. We are having a training for volunteers next Tuesday, Feb 26 6-8pm and/or Saturday, March 2 10-12pm at the DRC office, 11 Center Place. I encourage people to join us! You can find out more here http://www.dundalkusa.org/pub/DTOD or email me at leah@dundalkusa.org. I hope to see some people at the training! Thanks- Leah
Robert February 19, 2013 at 08:08 PM
My family has lived in our home for 36 years. For 35 of those years, we never saw a rat. Last summer we found 13 dead rats in our back yard. We see them run up and down the alleyway at night. When you clean out one neighborhood, you are moving the rats to another neighborhood. You need to step up your efforts and do a broader erradication all at one time or this problem will never be resolved. Robert
Brenda February 19, 2013 at 09:05 PM
I had almost the same response when I called the health department. I also live in the Dundalk area. I went n purchased new cans with attached lids ($40.00 x 3), rat poison n had to replace wires n hoses in my car. No matter what I do if my neighbor is dirty it doesn't matter. We r on r own with this one Dundalk. After living here for 52 years I'm leaving as soon as I am able. Code enforcement has been very helpful with me for other problems I have had.
Mary February 19, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I do a lot of walking through our community. There are some really nasty yards that are next to well kept properties. There should be some harsh fines on residents that don't know how to maintain their property. If it looks like that on the outside of the home just imagine what the inside looks like. Also, instead of putting up speed cameras that don't work put security cameras on dumping sites to see if you can get tag #'s. I'm tired of walking around the neighborhood and having rats scurry across in front of me.
Edward February 19, 2013 at 11:00 PM
You guys can't even keep the back of the Dollar Store clean!
Edward February 19, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Our block didn't even get rat boxes! And we are right across from Three Garden Village!
Doug February 20, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Doug I went to my brothers house in Colgate and there is still rats running everywhere over there and here in Gray Haven where I live. The problem isn't solved!!!!!!
chase February 20, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Baltimore County Code Enforcement is a joke! I have called and called them and when they come out, they walk around, issue the paperwork, and then nothing is enforced. The same residents, with the same dirty, junk trash yards remain year after year. It's a waste of time. I just continue to use D-Con by the bags and attempt to do my part.
chase February 20, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Spring hell!! Do you know how fast they reproduce??
chase February 20, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Code enforcement should have inspectors who tour problem neighborhoods and issue citations to offenders. And people it is not just trash that is a problem. I have never in my life seen people who collect junk in their yards as they do in this area. These same people have been known to call WV residents "hillbillies"! Please. I know some yards that look like junk car lots and have been that way for years now and nothing is done. When garbage pick-up was reduced from 2 days per week to one, the rat problem(s) increased ten fold. When "plastic", be it bags or cans, came into play they only added to the problem. Don't people realize that when you put your garbage out in a plastic bag, you are providing a smorgasbord for the rodents? So lets', all of us, try to keep our yards up, get rid of the junk, and if you can't or don't want to use a metal can, there ARE sturdy synthetic cans available and maybe we can reduce the rat problem. We will never eliminate them entirely, but if we don't give them a free, easy meal and a comfy place to stay, a lot of them won't hang around long.
Marge Neal (Editor) February 20, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Thanks for all of the comments made here, through email and on Facebook! I've heard from many people who say the same thing—the only thing that changes is the address/neighborhood. I will call some of the folks who sent their phone numbers; take specific questions and concerns to my interview with Mr. von Dommelen; and publish other comments in the article itself. I'd also welcome photos of some of these problems. You can send pictures to me at marge.neal@patch.com. Thanks for the input, Dundalk!
Kim Meyers February 20, 2013 at 03:09 AM
How many times can you call and complain about the same residents? Fines, and then 30 days to clean it up for them to start all over again. Code enforcement needs to get a lot better than what I have seen from them. Why should we enforce the codes if it's own agency doesn't. Kim
Shell9 February 20, 2013 at 03:11 AM
It would be nice if we had a dumpster day like a lot of other communities do. It is hard getting out to the dump for some residences. Maybe some of the church youth can help some residences clean out their yards. It should be 2 times a year at least. I live on Wise Ave so it feels like we aren't really part of the community. I think that it would help. I know the city gives out one free trash can..(I know they are going broke) But why not offer a discount program for residences to buy the trash cans that the county wants. I bought mine at Walmart. $15 a can with attached lids. Some animal ate right through the bottom of one of them. Just a thought. I think the dumpster idea is a great idea..
George Bogdan February 20, 2013 at 01:34 PM
All the authorities have to do is get off their rears & start writing tickets. I trully feel that they will tie up the court system trying to collect money for these fines thats why there not doing any thing about it. Mean while I was wondering if I can deduct the money I spend on rat poison and traps from my house taxes
Leah Bunck February 20, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Hi Shell9! We actually has some funds to give out some free, metal trash cans to neighborhoods. (We are also working with Poplar Hardware to be able to offer discount cans to those no in the targeted neighborhoods.) Please let me know if this interests you. I also think a dumpster day and clean up would be helpful! We can help you plan something like that! Can you send me an email (leah@dundalkusa.org) or give me a call 410.282.0261 we can make something work! Thanks for making productive suggestions!
Jake Mohorovic February 20, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Shorten the 30 day clean up time to 10 days.
Donna February 20, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Colgate has been proactive in dealing with the rats. We've notified Code of violaters, provided bait and bait stations and educated residents. A complaint to code is as others have said. Wait 2 weeks, then they get a ticket, and then a court date. It's good that they are fined the max when they do not show up for court but it doesn't solve the problem. So then, we have to start over with another complaint. Some properties have been cited for over a year with no improvement. The last extermination was not done to my yard as well as 8 surrounding yards. We waited to see them and point out problem areas, but no one saw them. Perhaps the County should find a reliable exterminator that will follow up in problem areas and exterminate at lest 2 years in a row. This year, not only have the rats increased in the alleys and back yards, but they've moved to the front yards as well. This summer will be worse. Because it is a health hazard, all yards should be treated....no one opt out.
BRENDA SHAVER February 20, 2013 at 06:34 PM
I agree with you about the same residents being the problem over and over again. I can tell you exactly who the offenders on my block will be on trash night every week! I don't think it's code's fault though, they are only allowed to do so much - I think the county needs to revamp the system and make the law itself tougher. You should get 1 warning, then fines and maybe even community service! It's just not that hard to put your trash in a can with a lid on it!
mark leisher February 20, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Please stop blaming the County Officials, Exterminators, etc.. for the rat issue. Every action has a reaction. The rats are not the problem. They are the result of society. We as humans are the problem. Unfortunately, we live in an it's about me world and most feel like everything should be done for them. Get off your butt, stop whining and complaining and do something about it. I am, like most who care for their property but there are many who are just plain animals who chose to eat and lay in their own excrement and their residences are proof. Over the last 3-4 years, I have trapped and killed over 100 rats in my yard that use it for a thoroughfare. I walk my dog every evening. The nights before trash day, you can hear the rats inside of trash cans piled with bags and no lids. The rats are smart and they know. These nights are when you see the most. I also, as another wrote, use them for target practice with a bb gun. As I stated, the rats are not the problem. We, as a society are the problem. The rats are not going away and they will only grow in numbers unless we ALL do something about it. My guess is it's going to get alot worse and we should recipes for rat.
Edward February 20, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Glad to hear a voice of reason to this problem. Every body has to get off their ass and clean up their area! So sick of hearing the county ought do something about! Many have moral upbringing because they always had some else do it for them. If you have trashy neighbors chances are they rent from missing section 8 home owners that don't give a damn what goes on as long as the rent is paid! County needs to goafter these people and cut them from any section 8 payments....this will clean up alot of places! As for Mark and I we will still be hunting!
Dundalk Girl February 20, 2013 at 11:56 PM
I have HUGE RATS running through my yard. One morning last week I noticed a huge pile of dirt in my yard and couldn't figure out where it came from. Apparently the rats have build a nest under my neighbor's clean patio and tunneled an escape path under my fence. I have rat traps and I'm trying to catch these disgusting creatures. It's a shame I can't go outside after dark because I am terrified. My neighbors are clean and we all keep lids on our trashcans (when we dont loose them because the trash men wont put them back on and we're not allowed to attach them). I grew up in Dundalk and when trash was picked up twice per week we didn't have this problem.
Mark A. Leisher February 21, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Thanks for your response Edward. I agree the County should be involved but only at a Policing level. I don't feel the mass poison baitng is effective or should be at the taxpayers expense. I'd rather see money go to schools than exterminators because of people living like animals. Everyone must deal with it at a personal level. This issue is widespread and should start closer to home. Neighborhood Associations should be the first to react. Associations should first, simply post notices at residences that they feel are inappropriate. The next step would be to notify the County of these notices. Now, at this point, forget the fines. Building inspectors have the power to shut down construction projects. Utilize the same principal. Shut down the residence. After non-compliance, post evicted / do not enter notices and lock it up until compliance has been met. It may be extreme but it may be what it takes. Ex. ( If your vehicle gets repo'd you'll pay the bill to get it back.) Then again, include a fine to cover ALL of the expenses the County would endure for "property police". DON'T COMPLAIN TO THE COUNTY, COMPLAIN TO THAT NEIGHBOR WHO LIVES LIKE AN ANIMAL.
Mark A. Leisher February 21, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Dundalk Girl, It's not your fault. My yard is nice and my trash cans are covered. The rats nest close to food sources. Look a bit further than you neighbor. Forget the typical spring loaded traps. They don't work. Rats are are smart and avoid them. My success for trapping them has been a cage type, 12" W x 12" H x 24" L. I place a half of slice of bread covered with peanut butter on the plate that triggers the trap to close. Once the rat is trapped, I place the barrel of my be BB gun into the cage. The rats will try to bite it. Thats when you pull the trigger. A minute later, the rat is dead and I double plastic bag it and toss it in the trash
GARY ROBERTS February 21, 2013 at 02:22 AM
i need someone to try out my new rat nightmare hotel I read all of your comments 2 hours ago you guys are on your own Im in the process of building a high tech rat killing machine plans are done need a yard infested to try it out I live in edgemere no rats just squirrels wich I RELOCATE
Jason Danaher February 21, 2013 at 03:57 AM
I got a letter to buy a rat box because of a rat hole and i called code enforcement to ask where the rats where. i clean my pop up every day, I bought new trash cans, etc etc. I was told by the code enforcement officer that it was my neighbor but he knew i would do something about it so he wrote my house up. I met with johnny O and it was a waste of time but come election year holy CR#p, they sure do something
Sandra Brooks February 21, 2013 at 05:29 AM
Our area was treated (not exterminated) about 6 months ago - found dead rats here and there, but they are back in full force. I do not park in my driveway nor do I go out of the house after dark. I don't know what the answer is, but I do feel that stricter enforcement of the regulations governing trash and clutter would help somewhat. I can't wait until the grass starts to grow and those big galoots will then have somewhere to hide - it's almost like the rats are paying taxes and therefore have a right to live in the neighborhood!
Shell9 February 21, 2013 at 04:50 PM
If you are using the plastic one with the lids or attached lids, they won't keep the rats from getting in. I have had 3 cans chewed through in the past year. So I will put Rat poison in the bottom of the cans now. It seems to me they adapt to the poison quickly and avoid them. I have put several poisons and trap out in my garage, shed and under the house storage..I can tell you that there is not one nibble on the new batch. I know they are still there though. Maybe we can get a Dundalk discount from an exterminator company. If enough people sign up for the treatments..Money per month or one time treatments....Maybe we can make a dent in it.
Freddy February 21, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Shell9 As you are aware the plastic cans are pure junk when it comes to the rats. Metal cans are the way to go and once they begin to rust replace them. The county needs to regulate this type of trash can if they continue to spend money of extermination efforts.

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