- Courtesy Of Martha Chadwick
- Basil Chadwick holding up a dead rat
The demolition of a Winooski home has unleashed a torrent of rats on an unsuspecting neighborhood and sparked a heated discussion online about how to handle the infestation.
It began March 31 when contractors razed a Lafountain Street residence, said Martha Chadwick, whose backyard is near the site. The next day, rats were everywhere, swarming her chicken coop and other outbuildings.
"They would just come right out! They were not afraid," said Chadwick. "I saw one of them go right past a chicken, and the chicken pecked it on the head ... They were coexisting — but that's not what I want."
Her cat has killed some of the vermin. She's found that snap and glue traps can hardly contain the horde. So last Friday, she posted about the problem on Front Porch Forum. Several people encouraged her to use poison, a suggestion to which Jennifer Perrault took exception.
"Anyone using torture and death to other living beings as 'go-to' methods to rid yourselves of their presence is cruel, lazy and uncreative," she replied, describing the extermination as a "witch hunt."
Perrault, a vegan, told Seven Days that she doesn't believe in exploiting animals. "I don't even use honey," she said. She said she once stopped during a 5K road race to "save a snake from being trampled" and that she has rescued mice from the jaws of neighborhood cats.
"If you just spend time with [animals], you realize that they are capable of feeling, suffering and all that stuff," Perrault said, "so why would you want to cause any of that when you can avoid it?"
Chadwick said she understands Perrault's call for compassion, but she said she has no choice but to kill the rodents. She's counted more than 30 running around her yard — and on Monday night, another neighbor about a block away said the rats had infested her area, too.
"You don't realize how scary it is until it's your property," Chadwick said. "It's a struggle. I've gotta get rid of them. If I can't get rid of them any other way, where does that leave me?"