“Dear Poisoner – It is Illegal to put Rat Poison in Public Space” – “Dear Neighbor, I didn’t poison the f*cking cats!”


“Dear PoPville,

One of our neighbors found gravy-covered rat poison in our alley this morning (the alley that abuts Trolley Park and runs between Monroe and Otis). Please remind your readers to be careful when walking their dogs.

I would not be surprised if this is connected to the woman who harassed the Alley Cat Allies lady a few weeks ago so aggressively that the police had to intervene.

My understanding is that it is illegal to put out rat poison in DC.”

Yesterday a reader sends the photos above:

“The first sign appeared two days ago, posted about a dozen times, in the alley between 11th and 13th in the 3500 block. Today, someone responded.”

Closeup of the second note after the jump.


68 Comment

  • Um, based on the bizarre coloring experiment from the apparent poisoner, I’m going to guess that writer person is (a) angry, and (b) not stable. The fact that the person felt the need to respond to a letter aimed at the person doing the poisoning shows this person is in fact the guilty one. An innocent person would just read the sign, take note, and move on. What an idiot (in addition to being an evil one at that for trying to poison stray animals).

  • Lol. Loving the back and forth passive aggressive notes complete with censored curse words. Could this be any more “DC”? Also, feeding wild animals is indicative of mental illness? Ooookayyy…

  • Wow I’m impressed by how lovingly colored that response sign is… –>GET A LIFE<– is particularly impressive.

    • There is also some thought put into the caps in gRAVy. Does RAV mean something to the “non-poisoner” or is gRAVy a special type of gravy?

  • Handwritten notes are a lost art form. Very nice to see someone put in the effort and make their message personal.

  • This is why I don’t want to own a house :^0 I could not deal with this stuff.

    • What does this have to do with owning a house?

    • And how exactly does renting make you immune to crazies or not having your animals poisoned?

      • I suspect Bruno’s thinking is that as long as he lives in an apartment building, he probably won’t have any reason to go into the alley.
        I guess the renting vs. owning situation wouldn’t make a difference if he were renting a house, or renting in a small apartment building that had D.C. trash/recycling pickup.

        • I own an apartment. It seems being in a house (whether you own it or not), you are subject to more spats like this…. but not free of them, that’s for sure :^)

          • Not necessarily. Condo boards can be equally as nutty. People are strange, regardless of whether you own a single family house in the middle of nowhere or rent an apartment.

          • Emmaleigh504

            I used to love to read the bulletin board at my old condo in Florida (lots of retired people and me). There was always someone bitching about someone’s grandchildren being too loud at the pool or touching the grass or flushing the toilet after 9pm.

  • That’s a very educational poster.

    Three equal signs of mental illness:
    – Feeding wild animals
    – Wanting to kill wild animals
    – Wanting to poison wild animals

    Not mentioned:
    – Overuse of paint pens

  • How does the writer of the first note know there was rat poison in gravy?

  • How did they know it was poison? (Not doubting the post; just live in the are and really ticked off and want to be able to identify it when I’m walking my non-wild animal. Ugh.)

    • Rat poison baits have a pretty distinctive shape (usually square) and color (green).

      • You’re a speedy typist.

        • 🙂 You did a better job of describing the shape, though — I said “square,” but “cube” is more accurate. For someone who doesn’t know what they look like and is imagining flat square disks, that could make a difference.
          Apparently I need more caffeine.

    • Look for the blue-green pellets or blocks. A neighbor who cleans the alley found one, covered in gravy of some sort, near where the Alley Cat Allies lady feeds the cats.

    • Rat poison blocks are pretty distinctive. They’re green cubes with a hole in the middle. They are stacked through the hole on a little pole in the bait station.

    • Also comes in other forms, usually green or blue, but I’ve seen red chunks also. I’ve seen it in grain form as well as cubes and worst of all the red extruded bits look exactly like dog treats.
      If you have pets its a good idea to check for poison if you move into a new place. Under the stove or cabinets is a typical location. Just google image it and most of the forms come up.

      As a side note, I’ve never liked that it’s called RAT POISON. It’s everything poison. I’d love it to have the same convention as other toxins, maybe Broad Spectrum Mammal Poison. Not that I’m multi-color-animal feeding-note-writing crazy, but I’ve actually met educated people who insist that rat poison will only kill rats, not cats, dogs, or people. Then I try to get them to eat it.

      • I assume no one takes you up on the suggestion? Love your suggestion that they eat it themselves, though. 🙂

      • A lot of people do actually eat rat poison every day – it’s a blood thinner called Coumadin.

        • Emmaleigh504

          +1 I just learned that last week! Fascinating!

        • While you might be meaning this glibly, it’s an overstatement, Coumadin does not equal Rat Poison. The chemical family known as “coumarins” are one of a huge number of Rodenticides. Early Gen 1 rat poisons contained actual warfarin, but aren’t used nearly as often as the Gen 2 coumarins brodifacoum, difenacoum, bromadiolone and difethiolone in combination with barium, tin, arsenic, lithium, and zinc.
          I’m not trying to stomp on you here, I would really hate for some poor schmuck to try and save a few bucks eating rat poison instead of their Coumadin. And I’m a nerd.
          btw, my first job out of college was in the WARF (ie warfarin) building in Madison.

    • My dog recently ingested (he voluntarily ate) d-con poison he found in a weekend vacation rental. d-con is typically kept in a small lid-less black container. The poison itself looks like teal pellets and is tasty to dogs. The poison is highly toxic and any pet owners should immediately induce vomiting and call the ASPCA poison control (888) 426-4435.

      Fortunately I caught my dog. I induced vomiting and rushed him to the vet for his stomach to be pumped with activated charcoal and receive two injections of K1. He is half way through his 21 days of K1 pills.

      If your pet consumes poison and you’re unaware, typically signs (blood in urine, stools) won’t be noticeable for five or more days.

  • We found a dead (orange) cat on the corner of Georgia Ave and Gresham Pl this morning that was not hit by a car. Our first thought was that it was poisoned. It was about nine blocks away from the posted sign.

    • Oh goodness. There’s a sleek little orange alley cat I see several blocks north of there; I hope that wasn’t him.
      I had no frame of reference for where Trolley Park was — for anyone else who was wondering, it’s at Monroe and 11th.

      • Oops… the Trolley Park location is specified in the original post, which I apparently read too quickly.

      • I saw Sleek Little Orange Alley Cat tonight when I was taking out my trash and recycling. Very relieved. 🙂

    • Emmaleigh504

      How do you know it wasn’t hit by a car? I have seen cats/dogs that were hit by cars with no visible trauma. And all those dead armidillos on the side of the road never look like they were hit either, but chances are they were.

      • If you simply keep your cats INSIDE you will never have to worry about whether they have died a horrible death by poisoning, or were smashed by a car, disemboweled by a dog, beaten to death by nasty children, or simply got lost, scared and died from hunger and thirst.

  • Why would a person respond to a general note to say that they didn’t do anything??

    I live several blocks north of there and I hope none of the feral cats in my area venture down there. There’s a fat orange one that I like to call Garfield. I hope he’s not the orange cat someone found. 🙁

  • It’s disturbing that someone would put poison outside near a playground. (And, upsetting to me since my son likes that playground.)

  • Out of curiosity, does anybody have an actual reference for placing rat poison in a public area being illegal in DC? It seems reckless to leave poison and makes sense that one could be found negligent or be sued, but I can’t seem to find any DC law other than some regulations pertaining to pest control company practices and licensing.
    Incedentally, I did find that DC has a Bureau of Rodent Control and that the ATF regulates the use of EXPLOSIVES for pest control!

    • It’s regulated by EPA:
      Consumer products contain one pound or less of bait. Read the product label for information on how to use the product and any application restrictions. In addition:
      Products cannot contain the pesticide active ingredients brodifacoum, difethialone, bromadiolone, or difenacoum, because of their higher toxicity to people, pets, children and wildlife. Products designed for sale to consumers are either first-generation anticoagulants or are not anticoagulants.
      Loose poison baits such as pellets are prohibited.
      Each product must include a bait station.
      Products with bait stations can also include bait refills.
      All outdoor above ground products must be placed within 50 feet of a building.

      • Hey thanks. So, this gets at the heart of my question. This EPA regulation is part of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and doesn’t pertain to consumers, it regulates how producers sell, package, etc. It doesn’t give the EPA any jurisdiction over me as a consumer. Plus, the EPA enforces pesticide infractions under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which again isn’t relevant to an individual consumer. The EPA mainly sues corporations and relies on Federal and local LE agencies to enforce the law.
        This is what I mean; Chicago has a law stating rat poison can’t be put in a public area and on private property you need to prevent access to pets, children, and other animals in some way such as making a wire mesh cage around the poison or using a bait box. I cannot find a law in DC that regulates the use of rat poison by a private citizen.
        To be clear I’m in the NEVER use rat poison camp, it’s just lazy and results in rotting rats, dead predetors, and sick pets.

      • “Loose poison baits such as pellets are prohibited. Each product must include a bait station.”
        This (IMO) is where stores like Home Depot fail. They sell the rat poison cubes, but not the bait stations.
        When I moved from a condo into a house, I don’t think I understood at first that the cubes were supposed to go in bait stations — I was putting them out within my fenced backyard, loose. Finding a dead squirrel under my front porch made me feel terribly guilty and freaked me out sufficiently that I did some research and ended up ordering bait stations from Amazon.

        • After about 6 months of living in a rental or house I’ve owned I get into some serious cleaning. I alwasy find these gooy blue and red lumps under the cabinets, refrigerator, stove, and sometimes on top of the concrete walls in the basement. Aside from the danger to a cat or dog, if they work, the rat/mouse dies in my walls and I get the joy of smelling it for months. I have a few rat traps in clear plastic bins with a baffle glued into it. This way my cat can’t reach in and set off the trap, the rat can get in, and if it catches something I can see it right away. Previous owner had a few rats get in, but with my cat the exterminator said I should have any problems, none yet. I do see them in the alley all the time, they are very fat and very slow.

          Home Depot fails this all the time. This is what gets me, the EPA regulates how the stuff is sold, but not what I do with it once I’ve got it. The pellets are still sold, but for “farm and industrial use only”, but there isn’t anything that says I can’t use it wrong, only that the EPA can tell the company what to put on the label. Amazon still sells the stuff in giant buckets.

          I’m just surprised that there doesn’t seem to be any DC law that covers this. There SHOULD be a law against random piles of poison, but I can’t find it.

          • Might it be a regulation rather than a law? (I haven’t tried looking for it, but I’m wondering if maybe that’s why your search has been unsuccessful.)

    • Sadly, unless the person who put out the poison actually confesses in person in court, you have absolutely no chance of legal action. I know from sad experience.

  • From my understanding the food being laid out for the stray cats was actually feeding the Rat population in the alley way.

    • Do you think that justifies putting out gravy-covered poison? Do you think it justifies screaming obscenities out your window at the lady who feeds the cats?

      We can disagree about the advisability of feeding the cats. We can quibble about whether she leaves them too much food (or we could work with her to pick up the excess food). But what she is doing is legal. Screaming obscenities at your neighbor, as the “non-poisoner” did and putting out gravy-covered poison, as someone did, are not valid means of resolving any disagreements.

  • Who is this woman people are referencing is associated with Alley Cat Allies? My understanding is that they’re located in Bethesda, not DC. Also, if this woman is feeding the cats and NOT getting them fixed (which is FREE is DC through the Catnipp program) then she needs to do that now. So irresponsible and just contributing to worsening neighbor relations.

    • Please tell her yourself if you are a neighbor. She has been worsening this problem for years. So far there are zero authorities willing or able to stop her.

      • Yes, she is unpleasant, and all I did was ask her to move her jeep from the middle of the alley so I could pass. For awhile the cat population in my alley was ensmallening, probably due to that neuter/spay group’s efforts, but now there seem to be more than ever. Nothing like being awakened by a shrieking cat.

    • She’s been feeding the cats in the alley for at least twelve years. She’s the one who got them all spayed and neutered. If a new cat shows up, she traps it, gets it fixed, then releases it back into the alley.

      • It sounds like she’s not following “best practices” for feeding the cats, though. “Best practices” do NOT include dropping food off and just leaving it there.

  • Non-resident “Alley Cat Allies” have been a nuisance in DC for decades, leaving multiple disposable pie plates of food in alleys to feed stray cats AND RATS. When residents complain and explain the problems this causes (as I did in the 1980’s), they refuse to stop leaving food (which residents have to collect and dispose of).

    They may spay or neuter some strays, but don’t get them all, and insist on contributing to problems in areas where they do not live–even when residents ask them to stop.

  • I’ve seen blue cubes on the alley b/w 1700 block of Kenyon and Irving.

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