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NYC dogs can smell a rat and capture it too

A far cry from the noble European hunts of yore, rat hunting as a sport for dogs is becoming a 'thing' in New York. Members of the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society – RATS – meet at night and sic their dog companions on vermin scurrying about in the night. 

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A Wire Haired Dachshund named Vina, owned by Trudy Kawami of New York, carries a rat after catching it in a lower Manhattan alley in New York Friday, April 26, 2013. The capture is part of a rat hunt a group of dog owners take part in occasionally.

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

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Bodies tense and noses twitching, the dogs sniff the fertile hunting ground before them: a lower Manhattan alley, grimy, dim, and perfect for rats. With a terse command – "Now!" – the chase is on.

Circling, bounding over, and pawing at a mound of garbage bags, the four dogs quickly have rodents on the run.

"Come on ... I mean, 'Tally ho!'" says one of their owners, Susan Friedenberg. In a whirl of barks, pants, and wagging tails, dogs tunnel among the bags and bolt down the alley as their quarry tries to scurry away.

Within five minutes, the city has two fewer rats.

In a scrappy, streetwise cousin of mannerly countryside fox hunts, on terrain far from the European farms and fields where many of the dogs' ancestors were bred to scramble after vermin and foxes, their masters sport trash-poking sticks instead of riding crops and say it's just as viable an exercise for the animals' centuries-old skills.

 
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