Department of Health

Self-Proclaimed ‘Rat Warrior' Testifies to DC Council for Tougher Rodent Bill

"Who you see before you today is a weary, tired, frustrated warrior in our city's war on rats."

A Capitol Hill resident who calls herself a "rat warrior" is pushing for stricter legislation in D.C. that would force restaurants and trash companies to clean up the waste rats feed on -- and hopefully stop what she and other residents call a growing problem.

"Rats are running all over the place," said Susan Sedgewick.

Sedgewick said she fights a daily battle with rats in her alley off of 8th Street SE.

For years, she has kept track of the rats in her neighborhood and carries a clipboard with a page of rat information for each home.

"What I've been doing is when the rat police come - the rodent people - I will record what they find," Sedgewick said.

What do they find? One home video from Sedgewick shows rats, rats -- and more rats.

"It is disgusting," she said.

Sedgewick and some of her neighbors testified before the D.C. Council on Wednesday for a new law that would force restaurants and other businesses to tightly contain grease and food waste, or face steep fines and government-forced cleanups.

"Who you see before you today is a weary, tired, frustrated warrior in our city's war on rats," Sedgewick said at the hearing.

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen introduced the "Making Rodent Syndicates Flee Restaurants, Interior Settings, Basements, and Yards Amendment Act of 2017."

"It's a long-named bill I introduced for a long-running problem across the District - rats," Allen said on his website when he introduced the bill in May. "In brief, the bill requires new and existing restaurants to create and follow a pest prevention plan based on their facility and creates a funding mechanism for Department of Health enforcement." 

"I have seen rats saunter rather casually through our community in Ward 6 so I know this is an issue citywide," Allen said at the hearing Wednesday.

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