About 300 people annually participate in Rat Academy. When someone calls asking to participate in the program, a specially trained outreach staff member does a walk-through in the area.
Taking Ratical Measures
The board member corralled other property and business owners on the block to take the course, offered by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
A total of 20 concerned building owners, managers, board members, and business owners ended up attending the walk-through on a spring morning in 2014. The group found at least four dead rats in plain sight. Rodents were even nesting in parked cars.
The first walk-through inspired representatives from seven other residential buildings and two businesses to participate in their own Rat Academy.
And Stay Out!
After learning about what they could do to eliminate their rat problem, the original condo made the recommended changes. Condo residents saw results, but still continued having follow-up walk-throughs for four more months to ensure they were doing everything they could possibly do to keep the rats out for good.
It's a true team effort, too. The whole neighborhood still continues to monitor itself to make sure the rats don't come back. Of course, with other buildings and businesses on board, the odds of keeping rats out are higher.
Board members and managing agents have to get over the "ick" factor about rats, and understand that a rat infestation can happen anywhere — even in a nice condo on the Upper West Side.
Those who participated in the Rat Academy program learned how taking simple steps — such as keeping the doors to the garbage areas closed and pest-proofing their doors and windows — could drastically minimize their infestation. But they wouldn't have gotten there had it not been for the board member who took that first, if embarrassing, step and reached out to Rat Academy.
Residents of the affected condo on the Upper West Side can now walk on their sidewalk without fear of having their ankles attacked thanks to her.
Adapted from "Rat Academy" by Jennifer V. Hughes (Habitat, December 2014)
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