DC pet owners believe rat urine is to blame for their puppy's death

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 15, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe


Is D.C.’s rat problem to blame for the death of a young puppy?

It is no secret that the city has an issue with rodents. A new study from pest control company Orkin has the District third on its list of top ten cities with the most rats behind Chicago and Los Angeles.

Rats are notorious for hanging out, breeding and spreading germs, especially where there is garbage to be found. One local couple sadly discovered what these creatures leave behind can also be deadly to their precious pets.

“In two weeks, [she] became the princess of Foggy Bottom,” said Alan Aper. “People stopped and wanted to take her picture. They wanted to pet her. She was a goodwill ambassador.”

Aper was referring to his 13-week-old puppy named Mamie. Aper and Marina Streznewski were forced to put Mamie to sleep after she experienced extreme pain and their veterinarian said her body was breaking down.

The couple is pretty sure it was due to leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that is transmitted by rats.

“She could have walked through or drank water that was contaminated with rat urine,” said Streznewski. “That seems to be based on the reading I’ve been doing.”

This couple, who loves and adores their dogs like family, says they don’t want any other dog lovers to go through what they experienced so they are telling their story.

They noticed changes in Mamie’s behavior, which at first they thought were due to the trials of trying to potty train a puppy. But they soon realized something was seriously wrong.

They are now pleading for everyone to be mindful and keep trash cans lined, not overfilled and sprayed cleaned with bleach. They say unsanitary practices attract rats and if the rats leave behind urine, it can be deadly to your dog.

Even leaving behind dog waste can bring the rats around.

“Please pick up your pet waste,” said Streznewski. “At a hearing a couple of months ago before the D.C. Council, [Councilmember] Jim Graham famously said dog poop are like energy bars for rats and it’s true.”

They are hoping a little awareness can help save another dog from Mamie’s suffering.

We spoke with the couple’s veterinarian and he says they are still waiting on tests to confirm the cause of Mamie’s death, but it is certainly possible that the dog died from licking up water that had rat urine in it.

He highly recommends vaccinating dogs against it and also being very careful to keep your dog away from creeks and rivers in areas where they may be a high concentration of rats.

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