Rat Girl. Sounds like a weird mutant character in a teen graphic novel.
Actually she’s a resident of San Francisco who is also known as Erica J. Better known as Rat Girl, she is an elusive woman who breeds the critters and releases them into public parks when their numbers get too high.
Animal Control officials have been monitoring the woman’s rat breeding and releasing activity for years. On one occasion they found and had to exterminate up to 1,000 rats who had begun to infest the rooms of other residents in Erica’s building.
According to a KTVU report from May 29:
KTVU on Thursday obtained video shot in April of 2011 of a room in a Minna Street SRO hotel packed with piles of filthy clothes, a dirty mattress and dozens of rats, burrowing in and out of the debris.
“The rats have actually burrowed into other people’s rooms. They can carry disease, they can carry parasites,” said Animal Care & Control Captain Denise Bongiovanni. “I was immediately concerned for the well-being of Erica. I believe that there’s a serious underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed and it seems to be unresolved.”
Bongiovanni said that in the last three years, Erica J’s social worker, landlords and members of the public have reported her for breeding the rodents.
The latest incident happened May 8th. Bongiovanni said a passerby reported Erica J. was living with at least eight rats in a park at Golden Gate Avenue and Steiner Street. Video obtained by KTVU shows rats eating out of a plastic bowl filled with dog food.
Bongiovanni said the department has been able to adopt out some of Erica J.’s domesticated rats over the years. Sick and feral ones have either been euthanized or exterminated. Bongiovanni said the woman has surrendered some animals but suspects she hides others.
“We understand that Erica has housing again in the city and I can only imagine that this situation is probably going to continue wherever she lives until she gets the help that she needs,” said Bongiovanni.
This story calls to mind MJ’s theme song to the creepy movie, Willard. Remember?
Ben, you’re always running here and there
(Here and there)
You feel you’re not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind
And don’t like what you find
There’s something you should know
You’ve got a place to go . . .
San Francisco parks, yo yo yo