Estimated 1000 or more rats fed by tenant take landlord by surprise

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 16, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, MI – The owner of a condemned house in Fruitport Township said Wednesday he was caught off guard by a rat infestation that occurred at least in part due to his tenant’s activities.

Christine Lea Bishop for years has run an animal rescue operation, Critter Cafe Rescue, at 5818 Airline Rd, a rented home.

The house was condemned earlier this month. After being given a week to remove the larger animals – including rabbits, ducks and cats – on Tuesday, May 27 she was barred from returning to the home. Muskegon County Animal Control estimated more than 1,000 rats live on the property and house.

But the owner, Fruitport’s Dale Carr, said things seemed normal at the house when he visited there in November or December 2014.

“It’s a surprise to me,” he said. “It caught me so flat-footed. I had no idea this was going on.”

Carr’s story doesn’t contradict what Bishop has said so far about when the rats took hold. In an interview Tuesday, she said the rat colonies originated with a cage of pet rats dropped off sometime during the winter. She tried to feed them and get them some birth control but said she had encountered some difficulty and needed help.

Carr said that Bishop had been a tenant of his since 2008. She lived alone with the animals and paid her rent. He knew that Bishop was an animal rescuer. She would keep rabbits and pass them on to adoptive homes, he said.

“She had outbuildings that the cages were in, and that’s where the animals were supposed to stay,” he said. “We didn’t ban animals there. She would fix them and then adopt them out. It was always kept clean.”

On Wednesday, Muskegon County Animal Control was at work trapping the rats. The rats are being caught in live traps and sent to shelters, authorities have said.

Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem said that once the building and property are rat-free, the building could be demolished or repaired and restored.

“We are going to work with (Carr)to abate the dangerous building,” he said. “Nothing’s going to happen until the rats are all gone.”

Carr isn’t sure what he will do with the building. Bishop had possession of the building until noon Tuesday, and he hasn’t visited there since.

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