First, there was Batkid. Now, sadly, there is “Rat Girl” — and she’s contributing to a skin-crawling public health problem in San Francisco.
KTVU’s David Stevenson reports that a troubled San Francisco woman has been “breeding” rats and letting them loose into the city for years.
Identified only as 43-year-old Erica J., the woman first came to the attention of the city in 2011 when Animal Care and Control discovered she had bred “hundreds” of rats out of her room at a Minna Street residential hotel in the South of Market neighborhood.
By the end of that May, public health officials had exterminated ”thousands” of rats from the surrounding area.
Later, KTVU reported, Animal Care and Control reported finding Erica living under a Japantown pedestrian bridge with rats living off of her cart. Not surprisingly, several of the rats had escaped and infested the nearby area.
Then, this month, a passerby reported seeing Erica living with at least eight rats in a park at Golden Gate Avenue and Steiner Street. Video obtained by KTVU caught the vermin eating out of a plastic bowl filled with dog food.
“The officer that responded noted that they had been there for some time. They had actually sort of dug a maze and had areas to tunnel and burrow,” Animal Care and Control Capt. Denise BonGiovanni told the television station. “We collected seven. Unfortunately I believe one of them was really sick and died in transport. We impounded the rest.”
BonGiovanni said that each time officers come across Erica, she surrenders her pets, but it’s suspected that she hides others. The city has been able to adopt out some of her more domesticated rats, but has been forced to exterminate sick and feral ones.
Authorities said they’re at a loss about what to do about Erica and her harmful hobby. BonGiovanni said she believes “there’s a serious underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed.
“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.”
SF at loss over Rat Girl’s rodent hoarding (video) – SFGate (blog)
rats – Google News