REUTERS/Mike Segar

For nearly a decade, one group has chased the city's most notorious pests with their faithful pets.

While New York City waits for the MTA's massive rat-sterilization efforts to pay off, a group of dog enthusiasts are doing their part to get the pests off the streets.

Since 1995, the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (R.A.T.S.) have been getting together at night to let their canines hunt the city's least-admired animals. It's a modest bit of help to a city with an impossibe-to-determine but unquestionably massive rat population.

According to the Associated Press, New York City spends over $600,000 a year trying to fix its rat problem. A pilot program focused on controlling rat populations in chronically infested neighborhoods is currently underway. The city also has a Rat Information Portal (R.I.P.) that allows users to see what buildings are rat-infested and which ones have passed Health Department inspection.

Reuters photographer Mike Segar followed around R.A.T.S. and their dogs during the group's "Christmas in July Rodent Hunt" earlier this summer. The group appears to be doing the city a service—but more than anything else, they just want to let their pets get in touch with their instincts. “This is all about the dogs, Richard Reynolds, the group's leader tells Segar, "and letting them do what they were born to do: hunt.”

Only four rats, according to the photographer, were killed that night.

Judy stands by as her Border Terrier Merlin searches for rats during an organized rat hunt on New York City's Lower East. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Bill leads his dog Paco, a Feist Terrier, though a vacant lot near trash dumpsters. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Richard Reynolds (left), a founding member of the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society, uses a flashlight to look for rats in a dumpster as Judy (right) and Merlin stand by, ready to make a kill. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Merlin hunts for rats in a dumpster as Judy looks on. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Catcher (left), a Bedlington Terrier, and Tanner (right), a Border Terrier, hunt for rats in a small park.  (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Tanner kills a rat. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Merlin stands over a dead rat he killed himself. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a closed street in St. Louis
    Equity

    The Curious Tale of the St. Louis Street Barriers

    Thanks to an '80s mania for traffic calming, the St. Louis grid is broken by hundreds of bollards and cul-de-sacs. Critics say it’s time to get rid of them.

  2. Design

    A New Plan to Correct a Historic Mistake in Pittsburgh

    A Bjarke Ingels Group-led plan from 2015 has given way to a more “practical” design for the Lower Hill District. Concerns over true affordable housing remain.

  3. A young girl winces from the sting as she receives the polio vaccine in 1954.
    Life

    How Mandatory Vaccination Fueled the Anti-Vaxxer Movement

    To better understand the controversy over New York’s measles outbreak, you have to go back to the late 19th century.

  4. A crowded room of residents attend a local public forum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
    Life

    Are Local Politics As Polarized As National? Depends on the Issue.

    Republican or Democrat, even if we battle over national concerns, research finds that in local politics, it seems we can all just get along—most of the time.

  5. Design

    The Woman Who Elevated Modern Poland’s Architecture

    A new exhibit displays Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak’s talent, which strove beyond the postwar standards of mass-production and prefabrication in her home country.