Woman vows to stamp out rats

For 19 years, Deana Veldhuis never saw a rat in her neighborhood. Last month, she spotted three scuttling around her cul-de-sac in a matter of weeks.

Now she’s declared war on the rodents.

The Lynnwood woman has rallied her neighbors in a “Combat the Rat Campaign” that she hopes will drive out or eliminate the pests.

It’s a battle that pits humans against rats. The weaponry includes traps, poisons and dog-poop scoopers.

Veldhuis is sure she’ll win.

“Truthfully, I hate them so much, that’s my goal – to eliminate them,” she said.

Veldhuis, who lives in a neighborhood just south of the Alderwood Mall, says she believes new building developments in the area have forced the rats out of their natural habitat and into local residents’ back yards and driveways.

Rick Zahalka, a manager for the Snohomish Health District’s food and living environment section, agreed that building developments might have led to increased rat sightings.

But he downplayed any reports of a rat invasion.

“It’s mainly something that annoys people,” Zahalka said.

Veldhuis isn’t taking any chances. She called the health district, and the agency sent her 50 brochures detailing how to fight rat infestations. She distributed the literature to her neighbors.

“I put a little note on (the brochures) that said, ‘Dear neighbor, I’ve seen three rats,’” Veldhuis said.

She expected people to be annoyed. Instead, she got calls from at least six strangers and heard stories from many others about their own rat troubles.

Residents said rats were running underneath decks, moving through crawl spaces in homes and chewing wires on cars. They were spotted in garages and on trees and fences, Veldhuis said.

“I don’t want to scare people, but this is getting creepy where they’re running all around,” she said. “It’s almost like they were becoming acclimated to living with humans.”

Her neighbors laid out traps and put out rat poison. They started picking up more regularly after their pets in the back yard (since dog poop can attract rats) and cleaned out their bird feeders. One resident, Veldhuis said, even called in an exterminator.

Veldhuis, a woman who admits she has a rat phobia, was so encouraged by her neighbors’ response that she asked for and received 50 more brochures from the health district. She distributed those, too.

Though the health district doesn’t keep a nose count on rats in the area, its spokeswoman, Suzanne Pate, said this is the natural time for rats to be breeding.

Based on health district records, however, there isn’t a local rat invasion, Pate said.

There were about 57 solid-waste rat-related calls at this time of the year in 2004, and there have been 52 rat-related calls so far this year, Pate said.

“There’s some concern about bites and fleas, but there’s no bubonic plague or anything like that in Snohomish County,” she said.

Reporter Chris Collins: 425-339-3436 or ccollins@ heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mt. Baker visible from the summit of Mt. Dickerman on a late summer day in 2017. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Hornets pester hikers on popular Mountain Loop trails

“You cannot out run the stings,” one hiker wrote in a trip report. The Forest Service has posted alerts at two trailheads.

A view of a 6 parcel, 4.4 acre piece of land in Edmonds, south of Edmonds-Woodway High School on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Housing authority seeks more property in Edmonds

The Housing Authority of Snohomish County doesn’t have specific plans for land near 80th Avenue West, if its offer is accepted.

Nursing Administration Supervisor Susan Williams points at a list of current COVID patients at Providence Regional Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of Providence patients in medical limbo for months, even years

About 100 people are stuck in Everett hospital beds without an urgent medical reason. New laws aim for a solution.

Emergency responders surround an ultralight airplane that crashed Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington, resulting in the pilot's death. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Pilot dead in ultralight plane crash at Arlington Municipal Airport

There were no other injuries or fatalities reported, a city spokesperson said.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
County Council delays vote on requiring businesses to take cash

Concerns over information and enforcement postponed the council’s scheduled vote on the ordinance Wednesday in Snohomish County.

A girl walks her dog along a path lined with dandelions at Willis D. Tucker Community Park on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Spraying in Willis Tucker Park resurfaces debate over herbicides

Park staff treated about 11,000 square feet with glyphosate and 2,4-D. When applied correctly, staff said they aren’t harmful.

One of Snohomish County PUD’s new smart readers is installed at a single family home Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Mill Creek, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
PUD program seeks to make energy grid smarter for 380K customers

The public utility’s ConnectUp program will update 380,000 electric meters and 23,000 water meters in the next few years.

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

Most Read