Every city has scary alleys and police would confirm this without hesitation. A conversation pertaining to what city had the deadliest alleys recently surfaced over a lunch meeting.
A good friend asked a chum, “Which city has the deadliest alleys?”
The chum replied, “What is this, a trivia game?”
The friend persisted with the question, “Where have police asked this question: why not let dogs hunt rats in alleys?”
When it came to allowing dogs to hunt rats in alley, the idea seemed a bit absurd.
The chum retorted, “Are you kidding? Is this a joke? That has got to be from the South, let’s say Louisiana. They hunt squirrels there and eat squirrel stew.”
With a sly, knowing grin, the friend announced, “Wrong! It’s in Manhattan, New York,” and added, “And police are taking a cautious stance on it.”
Surely, the skeptical chum thought, could something seemingly rural happen in the big city?
When most women think of desolate alleys in a city like Manhattan, their radar goes up. Images of women carrying mace ready to spray knock-out fumes may come into their heads. Images of faceless men loaded with bags of bombs may loom like dark shadows, stealthily creeping around the corners with fumes of garbage reeking nearby. Tossing morbid thoughts aside, more research was needed.
It turns out there is a new breed of hunting in the big city and it’s all thanks to one man.
Richard Reynolds created a specially tasked dog hunting group, with a grin on his face he discussed his company called R.A.T.S., an acronym for Ryder’s Alley Trencher-fed Society. Ryder’s Alley was once considered full of rats in downtown Manhattan and the “trencher-fed“ part referred to hounds that get their feed from the hunt. Reynolds claimed that the city appreciated them for their efforts to get rid of rodents, even though he admitted, they have not made much of a difference. Reynolds is an avid cap wearer and uses a pointy cane to shoo the rats away during hunts.
Since 1962, Reynolds has immersed himself into the world of animals, including rodents; he had begun his career as a veterinary assistant. As an avid dog breeder he has managed the breeding process of Beagles, English Foxhounds, Jack Russell Terriers, Norfolk Terriers, Fox Terriers and Wire Haired Dachshunds. He is licensed as an American Kennel Club (AKC) all-breed licensed trainer and is an AKC-approved judge of the hound breed and many terriers. His five pet dogs have all completed prestigious working certificates.
The group has been taking their dogs to hunt for rats nearly 15 years, chiefly in downtown Manhattan where there is a lot of trash laying around.
When asked whether or not they have an opinion on the matter, New York City police have said it’s not a problem legally to let dogs hunt rats in alleys, but they have stated that it is a risk for dogs that could get bitten or even sick if the rat bites and has previously ingested poison.
The assertion by police that the rat hunters are not violating any health or legal codes could make us wonder what it would be like to step into the shoes of the police officers. This thought is not a comfortable one for most people. Writers prefer writing about crimes, not busting criminals. It’s all about imagination, at least that’s what writers hope.
Continuing on this train of thought, it made sense that police in New York City already have enough to do, and if they don’t see any harm in it, they would probably feel relieved to happily pass this question over to animal rights activists or veterinarians, or whoever wants to take it on. Police are focused on life-shattering crimes like thefts, murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts and arson.
Crime data in the United States has shown that New York City police are doing their job well. Statistics over the last 13-years showed a downward trend from an above average rate of crime in 1999 to just around average in the last few years, according to city data crime rates.
The issue of dogs killing rats is nothing new to police. Although, some veterinarians say that the dogs need to have this kind of hunt for mental stimulation and physical exercise, others have warned that hunting rats does pose risks. Rats can transmit bacterial diseases like leptospirosis; however, veterinarians have said there is no danger at this time of year.
Still, there is something riveting about seeing a dog like Ernie, a three-year-old terrier and regular member of the R.A.T.S., when he gleefully clamps down on a rat, rattles it vigorously and instantly kills it. Ernie’s owner standbys, cheering him on. With the right level of caution and training, it makes many consider why not let dogs hunt rats in the alleys?
By Danelle Cheney