Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Urban hunters use dogs to hunt rats in New York

Urban hunters use dogs to hunt rats in New York, Dog owners in New York are using a unique way to keep their dogs in top form while controlling the rat population — they are using their dogs to hunt rats, The Associated Press reported April 30.

Rat hunting with dogs in New York is not new but it may be gaining popularity. (Time for a new reality show, perhaps?)

The rat-hunting dog owners are part of a group called Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (RATS).

Their dogs have been hunting down rats amidst the garbage and dark, grimy alleys of Manhattan and other boroughs of New York City for a decade.

It might not be like the prim and proper fox hunt of Europe, but the New York rat hunters — ratters as they are known — say their dogs are honing centuries-old skills and the nuisance rat population is taking a hit.

One recent night, the ratters group included border terriers, a dachshund, a Jack Russell terrier/Australian cattle dog mix, a Patterdale terrier, and something called a feist, a type of dog developed in the American South to tree squirrels.

The rat-hunting dogs are unleashed on the back streets of New York as their owners sport trash-poking sticks.

The dogs do need to be trained to hunt the rats, the owners said. When the dog pack works well together, one dog may sniff out a rat and give a signal, such as barking. Another dog may leap at the rat’s hideaway to flush it out, while other dogs then give chase to the fleeing rat. Some rats are killed as they become living tug-o-war toys for the dogs.

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