Dear PoPville – Beware of Rat Poison on T Street

by Prince Of Petworth April 22, 2013 at 11:00 am 32 Comments

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Dear PoPville,

Someone in the middle of the block between 14th and 15th put out open rat poison dipped in peanut butter in their backyard. These yards are only 13ft wide and already the rats have carried it beyond the drop point. Two dogs in houses on either side have been poisoned in the last week – our small dog almost fatally. It’s an anticoagulant, and can be easily treatable if caught in time. Symptoms include dry, hacking cough lack of appetite and lethargy, and unstoppable bleeding from even minor cuts or abrasions. If your dog shows any of these symptoms get them to a vet immediately. We believe the poison was left out in the back yard, so houses with pets in the middle of the blocks on T Street and Swann St NW that share the common alley should be extremely careful.

  • I know this is DC & there are problems with rats and mice, but in these types of close quarters & a dog owner of 3. I always advise people to use electric traps or old fashion traps. It doesn’t have to be dog that eats it. It could be child playing in the neighborhood. The electric ones come in both rat & mice sizes. You can find them on Amazon.

    • KenyonDweller

      The electric ones didn’t work for us. The old fashioned spring-loaded neck breakers, on the other hand, work very well. Cleanup is disgusting though.

      • anonymous

        I didn’t have any success with the electric kind either.

  • Applying the rat poison like that violates federal law. Someone more involved should consider reporting this to DC DOE. Depending on your vet bills, you may want to consider requesting the applicator pay since their illegal action hurt your pet and cost you.
    Also, those whose pets were exposed should consider reporting this incident to the National Pesticide Information Center (http://npic.orst.edu/reportprob.html#anim), they track these type of poisonings. If you don’t report to them govt. agencies responsible for pesticide safety never know about these incidents and don’t take action to correct it.

    • Sorry, but unless you have a video of the person actually putting out the poison, or the person confesses in court, you will not get anywhere with legal action. I know – I went through it recently with my rat-posion next-door neighbor. She simply lied in court.

      I just urge anyone who sees open poison put out to simply pick it up and dispose of it safely. Even if you have to go into someone’s yard. Even if they call the police on you.

      • lawyer

        I don’t advise anyone to trespass on someone else’s property to pick up rat poison left there. If your dog is leashed and properly supervised, when is it going to have time to eat some rat poison? Do YOUR job and watch YOUR dog.

        • Kelly

          Eh, I don’t have a dog in this particular fight (we live in another neighborhood), but I know it’s impossible with our leashed dog to notice everything before he does. The streets of the SW Waterfront are paved with chicken bones, for example, and for every one from which I managed to pull him away, or worse, managed to pry out of his mouth, he downed at least three before I even noticed. And I’m not walking around texting or otherwise distracting myself, my eyes are on the ground and on him. His sense of smell is just that much better than any human eyesight. Most of the time I have no clue what he picked up, even though watching vigilantly is my top priority. I have no doubt Victoria is doing her job too. Poison in peanut butter is just too attractive of a lethal nuisance.

  • Anonymous

    Oh wow, I’m so sorry that happened. Hope your little guy has recovered well.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been using bird seed and regular rat traps lately. Almost one a night being caught yet I still see dozens of rats around each night.

    • Do you have a restaurant dumpster or other obvious food source nearby? Can you locate their burrows? Eliminating large renewable food supplies helps a lot. Also, filling burrows in with a concrete/broken glass mixture can work in some cases.

  • This was really irresponsible. If you call DC city services, they will send someone out to conduct rat abatement. The DC guys are going to use more effective poisons, and in a responsible manner. This would have saved the “original baiter” time/money and prevented the dogs from being poisoned. Not cool! While DC has a really serious rat problem, I doubt that half-assed DIY poisoning is going to do much good, but it can do a lot of harm.

  • Tom Lewis

    I hate to ask this but can we get an address? Obviously we want to respect our neighbors privacy but at the same time I think its good to know which property to avoid. My guess is the homeowner wasn’t thinking when they did this but there are a lot of dogs on T Street and I would hate for anyone else to have a similar issue.

    • T St Neighbor


  • I would really appreciate knowing who did this. We live on the block and have a dog who is currently on his way to the vet (thanks for getting the word out) — he was coughing this weekend. It would be great to know what responsible party should contribute to our vet bill.

    • Yes, we live on the block as well and hope we find our dog doing ok when we come home from work tonight. Our block of T Street attracts a lot of dog walkers from the surrounding streets as well – thanks PoPville for posting this to get the word out to everyone.

  • This is illegal – if you know the address, turn them in. Or call the city to let them know. I think animal control might want to know, too.

    In my old neighborhood, someone left poisoned hamburger meat out in an alley. Disgusting, I’m glad I keep my dog on a tight leash.

    Hope your dog is ok.

  • TL

    I live in Petworth and the city of DC as a rat abatement program, in which the city comes out about every 2 months and randomly places rat poison in my back yard as well as my neighbors. The city typically leaves a flyer on the front doors step stating that poison has been distributed on our property. The only issue is, I have a dog that I am worried about eating the poison. We don’t always know where the poison has been placed. I’m glad the city is taking action to control the rat population, however it’s dangerous to pets and children if you don’t know where the poison is.

    There’s been several times where I’ve come home from work, entered my house from the back entrance and let my dog out in the yard. Then later in the evening finding a flyer stating there is poison in my yard. I shouldn’t have to always check my front for a flyer door before letting my dog out in the yard. My husband and I have already contacted city several times to complain with no luck.

    • KenyonDweller

      This is surprising to me. When the city did rat abatement on my block, they got signatures in advance giving them permission to enter our property. They made it very clear that they wouldn’t enter a property without prior permission.

    • I’m not 100% sure, but I highly suspect that the rat abatement guys are putting the bait down into burrows, and not on the ground surface, thus it would be really hard for your dog to get poisoned. Also, the problem above was due to hiding the poison in peanut butter, which would attract dogs. I think the normal poison/bait will probably be ignored by dogs, but attract rats. If you are unsure, call the rat abatement guys directly. the guy I talked to was really nice/informative…. one of the best interactions I’ve had with DC gov.

      • Anonymous

        Rat poison is attractive to many dogs even without peanut butter. In my experience, the city has to get permission from a number of residents before setting the poison. In my neighborhood, I always opt out because of my dog. The person collecting signatures knows we have a dog so makes sure we have the opportunity to opt out.

      • The city primarily uses rat poison formulated as a tracking powder. I have seen this specific product in the back of their trucks (http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/ditrac-tracking-powder-p-1169.html). It isn’t formulated with food grade materials like the rat poison bait you can purchase in stores and should be less attractive to dogs. It works because rats get the poison powder on their fur and ingest the poison when they groom themselves (similar to a cat grooming itself).

      • This – I’ve dealt with rat abatement many times and find them to be very conscientious. They inject the poison powder down into burrows then close up the burrows.

  • anonymous

    OP, hope your pooch is recovering OK.

    For what it’s worth… the labeling on rat poison could use some improvement to clarify that putting the stuff out loose is illegal. It doesn’t help that major retailers sell the poison bait cubes in their store… but NOT the bait stations that the cubes are (ideally) supposed to go in.

    But it seems to me that “concealing” rat poison in other food — as the OP’s neighbor did, by dipping it in peanut butter — makes it a lot more likely that an animal other than a rat will ingest it.

    • According to the dude at Old School Hardware, they either stopped making or it is now illegal to sell the traps that the bait goes into…. so yeah, they have leftover bait, but no traps to sell.

      • anonymous

        I eventually ordered a bait station (Tomcat brand, “large” size) online… but as far as I could tell from the droppings inside, only mice ended up patronizing the bait station, not rats.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry your dog got sick and hope he’s doing better! As a dog owner this is my biggest fear, especially since our lady will try to eat anything and everything she finds on the ground. I’d echo others and encourage you to turn these people into the city. Even if they didn’t mean any harm to pets (or kids!), they need to be made aware of how dangerous this is. And if they don’t care how their actions impact others, the city needs to be brought in to monitor the situation and take action if needed.

    • Anon


  • Katie

    Unbelievable. This is incredibly irresponsible. We live on this block and have a dog, and I’m so thankful you are spreading the word. I’m worried about the cats that live in our alley. They do a lot to keep rats away; why would someone risk poisoning them? So foolish. So dangerous. So thoughtless to their neighbors and the greater good.

    If the original poster knows who did this, I encourage you to report the person to the MPD. At the very least, the person should reimburse you for your vet bills. S/he should also pay for any cleanup, though I’m sure it’s already been tracked into various backyards and onto sidewalks. So frustrating.


  • Noah Smith
  • rikkiwi

    We are the ones that posted the original warning. We’ve since understood that the poison wasn’t open but in small poison traps. Still peanut buttered bait not in one of those lock-down black traps is a danger. Would really like to discuss with you further but don’t want to post anyone else’s address in open space. We are at 1434. Please stop by. And hope your pooch is okay!

    • Will try to stop by this evening, depending on when I get home from work. And again, thanks for getting the information out — now we will be particularly vigilant. Our dog is fine, and I hope yours is getting better.

  • rikkiwi

    Glad to hear it. She’s actually doing much better. Vitamin K apparently is an immediate antidote. But the poison stays in her system for a month so we have to keep giving it to her twice a day. What freaks me out is if they’d used one of the other poisons — like the one that knocks out the kidneys – the vet says there would have been no treatment at all.


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