Animal rights activists smell a rat in Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral hopeful Eric Adams’s new rodent policy.
They are decrying as “barbaric” a press conference he held last week in which he showed off dead rats and called on the city to boost its efforts to exterminate vermin.
“We resoundingly condemn drowning animals. This is barbaric and parading their lifeless bodies around is sadistic,” Allie Feldman Taylor, the president of Voters for Animal Rights, told the Daily News.
The comment came after Adams on Sept. 5 called on the city to create a comprehensive plan to kill rats and held a graphic demonstration of some of the 90 rodents killed around Brooklyn Borough Hall over the summer. Workers took out one of five large rat traps at the building and removed its top to reveal a sickening stew of rodents that had drowned in a concoction of water and alcohol.
Activists scoffed at Adams’s assertion that the killings were humane, writing in a Monday letter to him, “any veterinarian in the world would tell you that drowning is an incredibly inhumane way to kill a mammal.”
The letter was signed by Voters for Animal Rights along with the heads of NYCLASS and other groups claiming to represent “over 60,000 New York City humane voters.”
They called on Adams to stop killing rats and meet with the activists to work on a more humane approach to rat control such as sterilization.
“We are genuinely sympathetic to your office’s concerns about rats, and acknowledge that this is a difficult and complex issue,” the letter states.
“However… cheerleading for the killing of living animals sends a dangerous and destructive message, especially to children, as it encourages violence against animals.”
Asked for comment on the criticism from animal rights activists, Adams said in a statement, “A year and half ago, we held a rat summit at Borough Hall. 200 people attended and spoke about how they are tired of rats terrorizing their communities. I promised to find innovative ways to address the crisis.
“Government must live up to its commitments,” he continued. “While we embrace fast-tracking research on alternative rat mitigation measures such as sterilization, human lives — including children and the elderly — are at risk and we need a more effective approach to addressing this exploding infestation.”
NYCLASS President Edita Birnkrant said last week’s press conference was especially shocking in light of Adams’s previous stances in favor of animal rights, including opposition to killing geese in Prospect Park and efforts to ban processed meat from city schools.
“Was any of that sincere?” Birnkrant said. “Was the purported support just what we wanted to hear?”
NYCLASS is one of the most active animal rights groups in the city and played a key role getting Mayor de Blasio elected in 2013 after he supported the organization’s campaign to ban horse carriages in Central Park.
Birnkrant and Taylor said they are optimistic Adams will halt his anti-rat rampage and meet with them.
But they noted outrage and discontent are growing among Brooklyn’s ranks of animal lovers.
Birnkrant said an animal rights activist has put a planned fundraiser for Adams’s mayoral campaign on hold until Adams’s stance on rats changes.
“What surprised people was the real insensitivity — almost treating it like it was a joking matter,” Birnkrant said of the press conference. “It just seems very vulgar and insensitive to treat the issue this way and to flaunt a poisonous, probably very cruel drowning death for any animal and just celebrate that.”