City Cast

Meet DC's Rat-Hunting Dog Society

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on July 14   |   Updated on July 19
Bomani Mtume and D.C.’s famous rat-killing vigilante. (Bomani Mtume/City Cast DC guest)

Bomani Mtume and D.C.’s famous rat-killing vigilante. (Bomani Mtume/City Cast DC guest)

The D.C. rats are BAD, and it’s only getting worse with the summer heat. We’ve all heard not to leave your trash out, but Bomani Mtume and his neighbors are taking rat control to another level. His dog Barto hunts and kill rats in Adams Morgan. We had to ask how … and why.

How did you and Barto start hunting rats in D.C.?

“I heard about a society that hunted rats with dogs in New York, and I thought maybe Barto could do that. I found out there was a similar group in Georgetown. So, I got in touch with them and we've been hunting with them since September of last year. Barto is a terrier, so rat hunting came natural to him, no training was necessary.”

How have neighbors responded?

“We got in touch with the Executive Director of the Adams Morgan BID before starting there, and she was all for it. Overall, the response has been good. People recognize the dogs right away and will come up and thank us for what we're doing. However, some people think we're abusing our dogs or that they're going to get seriously sick because of the rats.”

How do you keep your dog healthy and make sure everything is humane?

“We take precautions against leptospirosis, which the dogs can get from coming in contact with rat urine. Rats don't carry rabies, so that's not a concern. And since the dogs don't eat the rats, there's no chance of them being poisoned. Some people also say that killing rats this way is cruel, but poison causes a rat to hemorrhage internally, and it can take five days for the rat to die. A dog can shake and kill a rat in 10 seconds.”

Think your dog could be a good rat killer?

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