Last week the alderman’s newsletter described a meeting between her and residents on Whipple about combatting the rat problem in that area. Channel 5 broadcast a news brief about it.
The newsletter prominently displayed a photo of the alderman at the meeting. The broadcast featured the cats.
Both the newsletter and the TV report gave full credit to the Tree House Humane Society and its Tree House Cats at Work program, which uses neutered, vaccinated feral cats to help keep the rodent population under control. West Ridge joined the program several months ago, with local residents agreeing to provide food and shelter for the cats. [The program was first approved for use in Chicago in 2007.]
The real problem in West Ridge is pigs. Some of them live here and some are visitors, but all of them leave their garbage all over our streets, parkways, sidewalks, and alleys. A walk down almost any street in West Ridge is a lesson in keeping rats fat, healthy, and breeding.
Tenants in some buildings don’t care about wading through garbage to get to their front doors. Some landlords don’t care about keeping their properties clean, and don’t properly screen their tenants. Some property owners simply don’t provide enough dumpsters, or schedule garbage pick-ups often enough. This is particularly true in the south and southeast ends of the ward. Some restaurants and food-related businesses don’t care how they dispose of food waste, either.
With City services cut to the bone, there simply aren’t enough field inspectors to handle the volume of complaints about poorly-maintained properties or overflowing garbage. Littering laws can be enforced only if the cops see somebody dumping trash, not if a citizen does. People who don’t live in the area don’t care how they leave it. I’ve seen garbage tossed out of car windows on both Western and Devon Avenues, and can’t count the number of times I’ve asked people to pick up coffee cups they’ve dropped on the street or tossed in a planter.
The cats can handle the rats. But what do we do about the pigs?