Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
On May 18, a large rat lounged in front of a convent at 16th and Corcoran Street NW. Bart Epstein, who works nearby, called D.C. Animal Control to dispose of the vermin. “Is it dead?” the voice on the other end of the line asked. When told the rat was living, if sluggish, the Animal Control employee told Epstein, “We only pick up dead rats. You’ll have to call someone else to get him killed.” Epstein dutifully called Vector Control, and a member of the city’s anti-rat force promptly appeared. Epstein asked the vermin vigilante how he planned to dispose of the rodent. “I’m going to bash his head in,” replied the vector control inspector, and proceeded to stalk the rat with a large shovel. Thwap! The flat side of shovel made contact. After a few sharp blows, the rodent was pulverized. Epstein congratulated the inspector, and asked what would happen to the carcass. “Either you’re gonna take him or someone else is gonna take him, but I ain’t gonna take him ’cause that ain’t my job,” the man responded. Epstein figured the inspector was kidding until a week later, when he saw a small child poking at the decaying carcass with a stick. “Two District departments with staffed phones, trucks, shovels, and salaried workers still have not done what my grandmother could do for free in five minutes—kill and dispose of a rat,” notes Epstein.