In April of this year, a home on Hiram Street in Wallaceburg was gutted by fire and the Fire Marshall’s office began an investigation.
While the investigation progressed, the gutted home became a haven for rats who were feeding on the abandoned food left in and around the home, much to the disgust of the neighbours. Now, three months later, rats are becoming a problem, with one neighbour finding a dead rat in her backyard where her two small grandchildren play.
It is understandable, during a fire investigation, that evidence in the home has to remain undisturbed, but surely a health and safety issue like an infestation of disease-carrying vermin like rats shouldn’t be left to continue unchecked.
Rats multiply very quickly and are carriers of disease that can be spread to neighbourhood pets, and they put children and vulnerable persons in danger of bites.
There should be some mechanism in place, that once the authorities are aware an abandoned property has an infestation problem, the issue is brought to the attention of the owner; and if the owner won’t immediately clean up the property, the municipality should make sure it is cleaned up, and bill the property owner.
To leave rats in a crowded neighbourhood as a health hazard seems not only disgusting but irresponsible.
And although current municipal bylaws and regulations seem to tie the hands of officials, it is time to look at changing the rules so that health issues like rats overrunning a fire-damaged home can be dealt with before it becomes a problem.
Because someone has objected to the demolition order, the municipality finally put on the home, neighbours now have another waiting period before anything can be done and their frustration is understandable. Regardless of the objection, the rat problem should be dealt with because once the bulldozers come in, the rats will be scattering in all directions, looking for a new place to call home.
Would you want it to be your house?