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Volunteers rescue rats illegally dumped in Dauphin County

Dozens of domesticated rats have been captured, but an unknown number are still on the loose in Steelton and Harrisburg.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — It's the sight that many don't want to see: hundreds of rats roaming or hiding in multiple Dauphin County communities.

According to Steelton Police, the rodents were illegally dumped last week.

Dozens of the domesticated rats have been rescued, but an unknown number are still on the loose.

“We probably saw at least 100 last night," said Michon Zalewski with the Eclipse Project.

Zalewski was made aware of the issue Sunday while helping displaced members of the Harrisburg community.

“As soon as I opened my car door, one of our differently sheltered friends said ‘Hey, someone dumped off a bunch of rats,'" Zalewski said.

Volunteers like Bethany Pascoe are hoping to find rescue them.

"Last night, we wound up going to the Steelton location [and] caught five of them," Pascoe said. "Today, I was over here with another friend and we caught about 50."

Both Pascoe and Zalewski say it’s important for them to capture the rats.

“If we leave them out there, a lot of people are going to have rats coming in their house. These guys don't know how to survive," Pascoe said. "They're going to be looking for heat. They're going to be a nuisance for other people."

On Oct. 6, Steelton Police were called to the 800 block of North Front Street for a complaint of a large number of rats in the area.

Steelton Mayor Ciera Dent posted on Facebook that the borough is aware of the situation.

In an email to FOX43, Harrisburg officials said “We are aware of the report but everything is from Steelton. No rat issue in Harrisburg.” However, the rats our team encountered were right along South Front Street in Harrisburg underneath the Interstate 83 overpass, though no one is exactly sure who dumped them or why.

"I don't know why anybody would do this. I don't know what reason they have," Zalewski said.

"There's been speculation that they came from either a breeder or from a pet store," Pascoe said. "Nobody knows. All we know is there's a lot of rats.”

Pascoe says assistance from the community can help.

 "We need food, cages, bedding, we need a lot," Pascoe said. "Monetary donations are helpful and we definitely need foster homes for them."

Pascoe says those interested can reach out to help via email, at BethanyPasc@hotmail.com.

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