By  Leah Bitsky  3/23/2017 Updated Photos by Facebook  -- R.A.T.S Photography Bill Reyna

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PHOTO PRESENTATION BY R.A.T.S Facebook  — Bill Reyna

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These Dogs Are Making Conditions Ruff Out There For New York City Rats— 

🐀 The Ryder’s Alley Trencher-fed Society, more commonly known as R.A.T.S., is a group of vigilante pups and their devoted owners who venture out into the dark New York City streets for the sole purpose of tracking and killing pesky rodents.

“Terriers have an innate sense to do this, it’s in their genes,” Rat Master and R.A.T.S. founder Richard Reynolds told The Post.  The group goes out as often as possible and always responds to any citizen’s call, never accepting money, and almost always delivering results.

Every so often, a city official whispers in their ear about a rat problem area and R.A.T.S. shows up to get the job done.

🐀 “We have a policy, any time we get a call or an email or anything, we at least go check it out,” Reynolds said. They’re willing to make house calls, and typically make it out as a group about once a week.  R.A.T.S. has been around for more than 25 years, but rat hunting for terriers and dachshunds, which make up the group, is nothing new.

Historically, these canines were bred to sniff out rats and eradicate them. Even Teddy Roosevelt’s terrier, Scamp, used to hunt rats in the White House cellars and lower floors, as mentioned in “Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children.”

🐀 By going out into the vermin-infested alleys and garbage heaps of New York, the owners enable their dogs to fulfill what they were born to do. It’s less about killing rats and more about their dogs’ delight.  “They think hunting is just fabulous,” Dr. Trudy Kawami, who started taking her wire-haired dachshunds to Prospect Park 30 years ago to sniff out rodents with the group, told The Post.

While these bad-to-the-bone dogs require training in order to learn how to properly kill each rat without any bloodshed (this entails shaking the rat and breaking its neck), the pack creates their own technique in the actual hunt.

 🦮  🐩 🐕  “There’s a very definite synergy between the dogs,” Reynolds said. “Dogs tend to have jobs that they pick out for themselves, sometimes based on their physical characteristics.”  For example, the short-legged dachshunds are much more apt to hunt in garbage bags or go into closed areas to bolt rats out, whereas bigger terriers by their nature tend to wait outside the back door to catch and destroy any pests that might come running.

🏙   Though these rodent-fighting pooches are superheroes to the city under the shield of the night sky, by no means do they have normal Clark Kent-ian jobs by day.

🏆   Reynolds told The Post that half the dogs are show champions, one therapy pup is busy being read to at the library by children, and another stars in the film “Five Flights Up” alongside Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman.

🥇  “All of these dogs are multipurpose,” Reynolds said. “They’re kind of really valuable members of society and you treat them accordingly.”

🚑   That is why one of R.A.T.S.’ top priorities is keeping their furry friends safe.  The group will only go out with eight dogs at a time, always with a veterinary technician present. One of the group’s only expenses was a top-notch first aid kit.  Rat bites are frequent on hunts, and often there is so much blood spatter, there’s no telling if the blood belongs to the rats or the dogs. Additionally, with the recent outbreak of leptospirosis, one can never be too careful.

🤬  But despite the risks, the rat-catching mongrels are never scared.  “  Fear is not a part of the equation,” Reynolds said. “Rat bites are nips, and to a terrier, all that does is make them more determined.”

😇   In a dog-eat-dog world, R.A.T.S. has managed to stay afloat for decades by avoiding drama that tears other organizations apart.  “We try to avoid rules, regulations, money conflict, all of those things,” Reynolds said. “It’s all about keeping happy, healthy working dogs, and as long as we do that, everything is fine.”


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