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PETA calls out NYC mayor for ‘villainizing rats’

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized New York City Mayor Eric Adams for saying he “hates rats,” which regularly run through the subway system and invade buildings in the Big Apple.

The furry rodents often scurry through the subways and rummage through trash on the streets of the Big Apple, presenting a health risk to the public, according to NYC health and housing officials. 

However, that is not how the animal rights advocacy group view the rats. Adams “could apparently use a lesson in showing kindness and respect for all New Yorkers,” PETA wrote.

The group will be sending Adams an “Empathy Kit” that “offer(s) a step-by-step guide to cultivating compassion,” plus a “Rats Have Rights” mug.

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PETA is sending this “Empathy Package” to New York City Mayor Eric Adams after he said he “hates rats.” (PETA)

City Hall didn’t care much for PETA’s push that “Rats Have Rights” – or the unwanted “Empathy Package” – saying, “Our priority remains our city’s residents, not its rodents.”

“Every New Yorker hates rats,” a city hall spokesperson told Fox News Digital in an email. “They’re dirty, diseased, and degrade our quality of life. They also pose a public health risk to all New Yorkers.”

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Last month, New York City health officials issued a warning about the increase in transmitted bacterial illness spread by rat urine after 24 cases were reported in 2023, the most for any year. 

Six cases of leptospirosis connected to rat urine have been reported so far in New York City, according to city health officials. 

Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, trouble breathing and, in extreme cases, death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Brown-Rat-Takeover

Rats swarm around a bag of garbage near a dumpster in New York on July 7, 2000. A study published Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in the journal Science Advances suggests that brown rats crawled off ships arriving in the Americas earlier than previously thought and out-competed rodent rivals, infuriating and disgusting generations of city-dwellers and becoming so ubiquitous in North American cities that they are known as common rats, street rats or sewer rats. (AP)

The homeless population or people living in shelters or other facilities where large clusters of people live in tight corridors are at a higher risk of contracting the disease, which has symptoms that can be mistaken for other illnesses, the CDC says. 

From 2001 to 2023, the Bronx had the most cases with 37, while Manhattan had 28, the memo said. Six deaths were reported in the same time period.

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With potential health threats posed by rats, the city is 13 months into “the war on rats so we can ultimately make progress and rid our city of these filthy rodents,” the city hall spokesperson said.

“While we hope to utilize these techniques without causing additional suffering, our priority remains our city’s residents, not its rodents.”

Mayor Eric Adams on camera

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks to family members of fallen NYPD Officers while attending the NYPD Memorial Day Ceremony where new names were added to the Memorial Wall located in the lobby of the headquarters.  (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Adams made the “hate rates” comments during Wednesday’s announcement that the Big Apple will host an inaugural “national urban rat summit,” which will bring experts from major cities, including Boston, New Orleans and Seattle, to devise a rat mitigation plan. 

But PETA did not take kindly to these comments, and quickly went on the offensive with a passive-aggressive attack on the mayor. 

“Instead of trash-talking rats, Mayor Adams should focus on clearing New York’s streets of the massive heaps of garbage attracting them in the first place,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “PETA is calling on Adams to stop villainizing rats for a problem created by humans and to address this issue with respect and understanding.”

Rat on NYC subway platform

A rat crosses a Times Square subway platform in New York on Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

WATCH: MAYOR ADAMS TALK ABOUT RATS

New York City officials said they have been focused on the trash problem over the last 13 months. 

“As New Yorkers know too well, rats aren’t just gross, they can make your home unlivable,” said Adolfo Carrión Jr., New York City’s commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

“This administration’s commitment to advancing the ‘Trash Revolution’ will help us accomplish our number one objective: to prioritize the well-being of New Yorkers and protect tenants and homeowners.” 

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The mayor’s office said rat sightings reported to 311 have declined in 12 of the last 13 months since the administration began its “Trash Revolution” program.

The total decrease across the covered period was 6.3% and almost 14% in the city’s Rat Mitigation Zones, the mayor’s office said. 


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