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Dogs have hunted alongside humans for thousands of years. From bear hunting to waterfowl, if a man sought it, so did his faithful canine companion. But as we moved into urban centers, hunting changed.
The Industrial Movement saw overcrowding and increased filth in cities, and with growing numbers, rats moved in for the advantage.
Small terriers and other earth dogs were already well-established vermin hunters in antiquity, and they found new, fertile hunting grounds in the urban cities, but in time, the purpose of so many dogs turned from vermin hunter to companion.
Today, leash laws and animal control efforts prevent the wanton wanderlust of the prey-minded dog who is forced to sit at home brooding over his glorious ancestral past.
OK, so the ordinary household dog probably doesn’t do much brooding, but he’s also not getting the much-needed mental stimulation of the chase that is so ingrained in his DNA.
Anyone who has returned home after a long day at the office to find their favorite pair of shoes or the throw pillows in the living room torn to shreds understands the importance of keeping their dog’s mind sufficiently stimulated, but a group of New York City dog owners is going back to their dogs’ ancestral roots.
R.A.T.S., which stands for Ryder’s Alley Trencher-fed Society, is a group of dog owners who take their pack out at night to hunt rats in the back alleys and garbage heaps in New York City. The team responds to requests from the community as well as proactively hunts rats in the city and is all-volunteer.
The job is dirty, but the dogs are taught how to make the kills quick and without bloodshed by furiously shaking the rats until their necks break. As graphic as it sounds, this is a 100% natural thing for Terriers who so often are seen shaking their toys to “death.”
The goal of this group is to help the city but most of all, it’s for the dogs. Exciting their prey-mind and working with them builds strong bonds and healthy lifestyles for pets and owners alike. The rats, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky.