Gallia Street businesses report rat problem

By Frank Lewis

September 4, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The city of Portsmouth is currently without someone to set rat bait and that has caused a major problem in the 1500 block of Gallia Street according to a couple of businesses there.

The first to report a rat problem was Pat Moore of Larry Moore Sporting Goods, who said she has seen the infestation get worse in recent months. Another is Brooks Snyder of Snyder Printing.

“I’ve been having this thing ever since I’ve been here,” Snyder said. “March is when I noticed it. I killed 10 in the first month, and I’ll bet I’ve killed about 20 since then. I found two of them in the back, and one was dead beneath my floor somewhere. And we had to tolerate the smell.”

“It’s like an embarrassment, mainly with the smell under the floor,” Snyder said.

He said he is concerned it will hurt his business - something he sees as not his fault.

“Let’s say you have a rat in your house, it’s your responsibility to put out a trap, or to call a pest control operator,” Portsmouth City Health Commissioner Chris Smith said. “If you own a business or you have a warehouse or whatever, it’s your responsibility to bait for the rats. If you have them in your yard, that’s your responsibility.”

Smith said his sanitarian who was licensed to set out rat bait was terminated, leaving a position open which has meant that the city, while it has the bait available, has no one to set that bait.

“We have licensed sanitarians. I’m a licensed sanitarian and (Director of Environmental Services) Andy (Gedeon) is a licensed sanitarian, and we can deal with restaurants and all that, but neither of us are licensed pest control operators,” Smith said.”We’ve gotten ourselves in trouble before because we’ve tried to help. We’re baiting the sewers and there’s some holes in the yards, we’ll get permission and we’ll bait the yard and the sewer, even though that is not necessarily our responsibility. When you do that, people get used to thinking, if they have a rat, it’s the city’s rat. Like I told somebody else, the city’s rain may come into my house, but it’s still my responsibility to fix the roof.”

Smith said the city is in the process of hiring someone to address baiting for rats and that person will be licensed to put out bait in the city’s sewers.

“The rat baiting program is not necessarily a constant thing anyway,” Smith said. “So hopefully we’ll have somebody up and running within a couple of months.”

Smith said the city’s responsibility is limited.

“That’s what the city is responsible for, baiting the sewers,” Smith said. “Just baiting the sewers is not going to solve their problem. There’s a reason rats are coming onto their property. There’s either food or water, it’s always a combination of stuff.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.