This is an older story that I posted to a small audience on social-media and I decided to make it available to a wider range of peoplSome information in sources has been redacted by me, not the involved agencies. In this case, names are not necessary to tell this story as there are ages, health conditions, and ethics to consider. Mary Scerba, a Springfield, Ohio resident came to me about a rat-infested neighbor’s home. When speaking with her on December 31, 2022, she stated they could still see many rats from the property located at 413 Rice St after initially reporting it in September 2022. Her dogs were still being bitten, and she did not feel the City of Springfield was doing anything about it. This was even after Assistant Mayor Rob Rue visited her personally to address the issue. I contacted Springfield City Code Enforcement Manager Kim Fultz and she advised of the following record for 413 S Race St.: The property was issued orders for junk & trash to the property owner on September 20, 2022. The violation was brought into compliance and the case was closed. On October 18, 2022, Code Enforcement received an additional complaint, orders were issued to the property owner on October 27, 2022. The accumulations were removed, and the violation was brought into compliance. She then advised me the rat infestation was sent to the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) for investigation and follow-up and provided contact information.
The situation began on September 13, 2022, at 6:17 p.m., Springfield Police Sergeant Justin Adkins responded to a call for a supervisor from two SPD Patrol Units who had been dispatched to 413 S Race St. The call for service initially was a welfare check on the tenant (57-year-old male) after they had not heard from him for some time. During this time a second caller reported concerns over "Hundreds of rats and a woman (62 years old) living in a shed in the driveway of the home. This woman would later be identified by police as the tenant's sister. Sgt. Adkins stated in an e-mail to CCCHD Director of Environmental Health, Larry Shaffer the following: “Upon arrival, I observed a large number of rats on the porch, piled on top of a bag of dog food and eating from the bag. I also observed rats on the porch and coming and going from under the residence and the shed nearby. We were able to make contact with a female named REDACTED. Ms. REDACTED was found to be Mr. REDACTED sister, and lives in the shed positioned near the residence.”
Mr. Shaffer of the (CCCHD), opened his investigation on September 14, 2022 (the next day) for possible violations concerning Section 308.1 of Springfield Codified Ordinance 1305.01. Also, a notice of violation of the code to the property owner (name also redacted) was sent via Certified USPS Mail on September 15, 2022, and received by a family member of the owner on September 19, 2022, as the owner was out of town (per Mr. Shaffer). This letter provided a resolution date of September 30th, for the owner to address the violation or face further action.
Mr. Shaffer stated he initiated a full inspection which is standard procedure for these types of investigations which included also checking for running water and sewage and trash service. He noted hearing barking dogs upon his arrival and the female living in the shed and estimated possibly 3-5 dogs, though it was a substantially higher number that was placed in a local rescue of Chihuahua puppies. He also noted a bag of dog food on the porch being eaten by rats, rats coming from the house, and shed, and tunnels made by the rats. According to the below disposition of one of the prior responding police officers, there were approximately 200 rats. Upon his return home, the property owner contacted CCCHD and notified them the tenants provided him with a receipt of services from Terminix including the placement of rat bait traps on September 23, 2022, which would help CCCHD in tracking the strength of the infestation and the progress of it being removed as well.
Mr. Shaffer went back to 413 Rice St. for his first follow-up visit on October 2, 2022, and observed the trash on the property was cleaned up, he no longer heard barking dogs, there were no flies all over the place, and he observed the rat bait traps out and being eaten by the rats. On October 18th Mr. Shaffer made another follow-up visit to the location and observed the bait was remaining full in the traps, this is an indication the rat activity has drastically slowed and/or ceased completely. At this time Mr. Shaffer spoke with the reporting neighbor and other neighbors who told him things were “much much better and hadn’t seen ANY rats” The following are photos taken by Steel Ohio Media on December 31, 2022, of 413 Rice St so you can see what it looks like now, in comparison to the CCCHD photographs when this situation began.
Ms. Scerba was worried that even though she had complained to the city nothing was being done, my goal was to hold our government accountable and confirm rather or not they were sweeping her concerns under the rug. Ms. Scerba is still experiencing some type of rat problem, there is no certain way to know why that is. She could have gotten some that found refuge on her property from scattering out of the Rice St “breeding grounds” or there is another nest somewhere in the area. There are no doubts Ms. Scerba’s dogs are being bitten, and she is mentally impacted by the rodents, but in my investigation, my opinion and the evidence shows all government agencies involved did their jobs to their best ability and within the law. Those agencies are Springfield Police who responded to the welfare check and initial rat complaint, Code Enforcement (the trash and zoning violation with living in the shed and other orders), and most prevalent the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) in their investigation and resolution of the rat problem. By law, a property owner is responsible for pest control on their property. I visited Ms. Scerba's house inside and out and it is maintained very cleanly and very well.
Rats are dangerous health concerns report substantial activity!!!!! CCCHD recommends this website for more information regarding diseases and health concerns they pose. Center for Disease Control
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