Peoria residents say progress is being made in rat infestation problem

Weeks after a rat infestation problem developed at a Peoria neighborhood, neighbors say progress is being made in getting rid of the unwanted guests.

The rat infestation problem has troubled the neighborhood after the body of a woman was found inside a home near 87th Avenue and Bell Road.

At the time of the incident, first responders said they were not able to get inside the home due to hoarding and unsanitary conditions inside, and had to use a robot and drone to look inside.

Police said there was a hoarder-type situation, and conditions inside the home were been described as "deplorable."

In the days after the body was discovered, people living in the area were dealing with the infestation.

"Some rats got out and started their own population, mostly likely have consumed all the available food in the house and most likely the deceased, now they’re getting out because there's no food left," said Mike Boyle with Burns Pest Elimination.

"I have 50 of them in our yard at least. I have video and pictures of them by my front door," said Megan Lortes. "I have to carry my kids out when we leave the house, which isn’t often because we're scared to leave."

"Hundreds if not thousands of rats up and down our street, in our backyards, in our garages," said Justin Grubb. "It's disgusting. It is. It's absolutely disgusting."

Officials with the Arizona Humane Society said they learned of the rat infestation situation on Sept. 27, and reached out to local police for more information.

"These rats are domesticated, meaning they are pets and not the type of rats that can make it on their own without human help," read a portion of the statement.

On Sept. 28, AHS, along with members of the "Any Rat Rescue" group, were out at the house, trying to round up and catch as many rats as possible, so that they can treat them and eventually adopt them out as pets. People involved with the rat rescue efforts say the rodents could make kind and caring pets.

"They are kind, sweet animals, like a cross between a cat and a dog," said Jenna Lillibridge with Any Rat Rescue. "Least likely to bite, also least likely to spread disease."

House being cleaned up

Over the past week, contractors have significantly cleaned up the outside area of the home where the woman's body was found, removing overgrown brush and debris. On Oct. 12, they began clearing out items that have been hoarded inside the house – several large dumpsters have already been filled.

"We have hired a biohazard team in order to complete the whole process to clean what was living in there and what was left in there from the hoarding and trash components, so they're suiting up in order to safely remove what's in there," said Chris Hallett with the city of Peoria.

Hallett said crews expect to wrap up by the end of the day, or Oct. 13.

Meanwhile, neighbors say they have noticed the results.

"It doesn’t smell as bad anymore, which is a big relief," said Lortes.

The house, oddly enough, has also attracted some unwelcome visitors, resulting in a fence being put up.

"For some reason, people went inside of this house," said Lortes. "I don’t know why or what’s in there, except for rats and snakes."

City officials estimate that crews will begin cleaning up hazardous items inside the home, starting next week. They hope to be finished by the end of the week.

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