After the mayor of Rutland, Vermont, determined a problem property was a public health hazard, workers came in Thursday to clear out a mountain of trash.
But that job revealed a possible new concern — rats.
"There were at least a dozen rats," said contractor Dan Blanchard of East Creek Mowers, who was helping haul away a pile of rotting garbage and junk from a neglected garage on Gay Street in Rutland. "They were just scattering."
The city of Rutland brought in contractors to empty the garage of an abandoned property, after neighbors complained to city officials about both the smell and rodents.
"They'll end up at someone else's place or something," Blanchard theorized about the rats.
Rutland Mayor Dave Allaire said the city tried in vain to locate someone associated with the property to take responsibility for the mess. When multiple warnings and notices were ignored, he said the city had to act and clear it out, because it was becoming a risk to public health.
Neighbors Harvey and Joan Cutts are now hoping the displaced rats don't come around their home.
"That ain't good,” Harvey Cutts said of the thought of rats looking for new homes in his neighborhood.
"People shouldn't have to be living around something like that," Joan Cutts added.
A similar problem was reported this spring about 70 miles to the north in Winooski, after an old building was demolished.
People who live nearby said it sparked a neighborhood invasion, with the vermin that had been inside the razed property left looking for new places to nest.
Winooski residents sent necn affiliate NBC 5 News photos of rats they were left trying to get rid of.
"You can't control what your neighbor does," observed Paul Garland, who owns Superior Pest Control in Rutland.
Garland, who also sells rat traps and repellents at his other business, Garland's Farm & Garden, said the best things anyone can do to keep rats away are to keep your home and outbuildings well-sealed, and to not leave garbage sitting around too long.
"They find that inviting to make a home, have their young, and increase their flock," Garland warned of cluttered areas full of trash.
Rutland's mayor said he's glad to see the Gay Street mess cleaned up, and said the city health inspector will stay on top of it.
Allaire said the well-being and quality of life in Rutland are top priorities of his team.
"We will be monitoring the situation up there — just looking around for the whole city," the mayor told necn.