Rats, watch out: Neighborhood leader targets infestation after dog dies

Media Credit: Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski is looking to clear the Foggy Bottom area of pests after her dog died from a rat-transmitted disease.

When a local leader lost her 13-week-old dog to a disease transmitted by rodent urine last week, her plan to rid Foggy Bottom of pests got much more personal.

Since the incident, Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski has spent mornings with officials from the city’s Department of Health, clearing bushes, treating rat burrows and keeping trash off the neighborhood streets to stave off infestation.

Streznewski, the face of the GW neighbor lobby, is now pushing her organization to commit money in next year’s budget to combat the city’s rodent problem. That’s an issue she said affects everyone in the historic district, especially since D.C. is regularly listed among the nation’s most infested cities.

“I was with the Department of Health this morning talking to some student renters who did not think they had a rat problem, but even if you don’t have a rat problem, if your neighbors do, then you do too,” Streznewski said.

She said she wants the neighborhood group to use the funds to pay for new compactor trash cans that will keep rats out of the neighborhood. D.C. has the third-largest rat problem in the country, behind Chicago and Los Angeles, the Washington City Paper reported.

The FBA has most recently focused on infestations near the I Street Mall, the park next to GW Hospital and the Foggy Bottom Metro station. Streznewski said other local groups, like the city’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, have also received complaints about the rodents in the area.

Streznewski said she’s contacted other organizations in Foggy Bottom, like the hospital, so they can “work together” to get rid of the rodents.

“The Metro is there and people walk to get to Whole Foods, it’s busy and people notice the issue,” she said. “The rats don’t care if the property is owned by the University or the Metro.”

Streznewski has been involved in the fight against D.C.’s rodent population long before the death of Mamie, her Shiba Inu. The FBA has frequently worked with DOH, which handles pest control, and has pinpointed streets that need rodent poison.

Council member Jack Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom, introduced a bill last January that would give incentives like tax breaks to local businesses if they buy trash cans that block rodents from getting into the garbage. Those “compacting” cans don’t leave waste at the top of bins like typical models, which rats can access easily by climbing.

A committee director for Evans said the bill, which is under Council review, may turn into a grant program for businesses so they can purchase the new trash cans.

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