You know that rat problem that's been festering in parks and even some businesses as of late? Well, perhaps this has something to do with it.
Apparently, a woman in San Francisco has been breeding rats in her room at a residential hotel and then releasing them in public parks. earning her the nickname of "rat girl."
KTVU details the issue this morning, pointing out that this rat breeding has been going on for years, and what's worse is police seem to think they can't do much to stop her. The news station reportedly got its hands on a 2011 video from the woman's room in a Minna Street SRO hotel stuffed with dirty clothes and rats.
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The resident was identified as a 43-year-old woman known as "Erica J." San Francisco's Public Health Department told KTVU that by the end of May, 2011, it had exterminated 1,000 rats in the room and neighboring areas.
"The rats have actually burrowed into other people's rooms. They can carry disease, they can carry parasites," said Animal Care & Control Captain Denise Bongiovanni. "I was immediately concerned for the well-being of Erica. I believe that there's a serious underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed and it seems to be unresolved."
Wherever Erica goes, she breed rats -- and the rats breed trouble. Her landlords and neighbors have launched complaints about her rodent hobby. She's even been known to bring her rats in a cart while camping out on city streets, and some of those rats have ditched her, and are roaming the streets on their own.
Again, on May 8, 2014, a pedestrian in Western Addition reported Erica J. to authorities, saying she was living with at least eight rats in a park near Golden Gate Avenue and Steiner Street. She was seen feeding the rats from a plastic bowl, according to KTVU.
The cops showed up and collected the rats, some of which have been adopted into loving, stable homes. The feral ones have either been euthanized or exterminated.
But authorities say that prosecuting "rat girl" is probably not going to solve the problem. "We understand that Erica has housing again in the city and I can only imagine that this situation is probably going to continue wherever she lives until she gets the help that she needs," Bongiovanni said.