WASHINGTON - D.C. loves its baby panda, but it has no love for some of the city's other furry residents: rats.
Several dozen people turned out for a meeting Thursday night at the Washington Plaza Hotel to talk about what appears to be a growing number of rats in the popular 14th Street corridor.
One of them was Sue Pitman, who lives in the Logan Circle area.
"There are rats scurrying around everywhere in the neighborhood," she said.
"People are afraid to open their back doors to just sit out on their decks or on their porches because there literally are rats running through people's backyards."
Michael Farr, who lives about one block south of Logan Circle said nobody wants to see rats.
"They're always present when you're out at night, or walking the neighborhood, cutting through alleys," Farr says.
Gerard Brown, program manager of the Rodent and Vector Control Division of the DC Department of Health said the rats are indicative of larger problems in the neighborhood.
"Rats need three things, they need food, water and a place to live," Brown said at the meeting.
"Rats are really not the problem, they're an indication of something wrong in a certain area, and that's usually poor trash handling. That's our main problem. People don't know how to put the trash in the can and put the top on it."
New construction and businesses in the area as well as the weather may be contributing to the increase, Brown said.
"The reason why the rats are so bad now, we believe, is because of the warm winters," said Brown.
Brown said he plans to organize block-by-block meetings with business and restaurant owners in the area to discuss ways they can help curb the critters.
In D.C., you can report rat problems or trash problems, such as overflowing dumpsters, by calling 311.
Learn more about how to keep rats away on the Department of Health website.
Below is a Department of Health video about rodent control.
Read more about D.C.'s trash rules for residents and businesses on the Department of Health's website.
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