Hazel Park neighbors fight rat infestation, living on 'Rat Row' - FOX 35 News Orlando

Hazel Park neighbors fighting rat infestation, living on 'Rat Row'

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Residents in Hazel Park are wanting help from the city after their street has been taken over by rats.

FOX 2's Taryn Asher has spoke with several neighbors who cannot take the infestation anymore. They tell her their street has been nicknamed 'Rat Row.'

The colony of rats is believed to have originated at a house with junk piles. Neighbors asked the city for months to go after the homeowner to clean up his property. The property was eventually cleared but the rat infestation was not, and the animals scattered and found new shelter.  

Neighbors say piles of junk can still be seen around Joe Howarth's property. The city says he has been cited several times since 2010.

"He complied, at some point, and other times there was a delay so we had to issue more tickets. Now, as my city prosecutor is fond of saying, we can correct the problem but you can't correct human behavior," says Hazel Park city manager Ed Klobucher.

The residents feel the city should pay for exterminators to get rid of the infestation, saying it did not go after Howarth soon enough and made the problem worse.

Klobucher says the city does not have a responsibility to clear the rats. He says, "[The residents] have a responsibility to deal with their own rat problem, and they do that by denying those rats harborage, food source and water."

Neighbors say they've called the city several times in the last few months about the problem. The city says the last complaint they have on file is June 2013, but encourage residents to call again. The city will offer tips for keeping your property rat free, but will not hire an exterminator or use tax dollars to get rid of the rodents.

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