Lately there have been many posts on Nextdoor about rat poison and the effects it has on our pets, families and wild animals.

Some neighbors spend a lot of money to keep their beloved family pets alive, and thankfully some survived after emergency care at pet hospitals. Another neighbor in the same area found rat poison in her backyard, and it appears to have been tossed over the fence or dragged or dropped by a wild animal. Just last week another rat-poison pellet was found in the same neighborhood. I am pleading with everyone to not use rat poison – ever! Please!

Not only does it affect our pets, but the poison also will kill birds of prey, opossum, foxes, coyotes and all other creatures that eat the poisoned rodents, and they will die a horrible and lonely death without a veterinarian to save them.

Think of the families losing a fur baby, or a nest of owlets losing their food provider and survival teacher. It breaks my heart to think that my rescue cats or any other animal may eat a poisoned rodent and get sick and/or die. I know you will tell me to keep our cats in, but they are rescued felines and need room to roam just like us, and I should not be afraid to let them out. Besides, they keep our property free of pests, and even our neighbors welcome their visits and know where they belong. They are quite popular around this neighborhood due to their hunting skills.

Rat poison is prohibited in California, but unfortunately it is still available in some stores, and surely some people still have it in their garages.

Should the Los Altos City Council issue a public service announcement and send inspectors to stores to make sure any products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone or difenacoum that have been banned in our state as of September 2020 are no longer available? I personally think that would be an appropriate action.

Do we need flyers in all the mailboxes in our city and surrounding areas to educate residents on the dangers of above-mentioned poisons and the environmental and emotional consequences? Both are mentioned on Nextdoor and would be welcome, and many residents would be willing to help spread the word.

Owl boxes are a great idea and would attract a natural rodent deterrent, so if you have time and an appropriately sized tree, please invite these magnificent birds to our area. Barn cats are another great option to keep your property and our neighborhoods free of rodents. Adobe Animal Hospital and other veterinary clinics have information on how to adopt a barn cat in the cat waiting room and probably online.

For a low-cost, low-maintenance solution, try using traps. Goodnature A24 Rat and Mouse Trap is powered by a carbon dioxide canister, can strike 24 times without having to be reset and, per a Nextdoor post, the hammer instantly kills, avoiding needless suffering.

Santa Clara County Vector Control is a good resource, or call a highly recommended exterminator to assess your home.

Please do not use rat poison. If you have any left in your garage or home, please get rid of it responsibly and don’t contaminate our environment by tossing it out or flushing it down the toilet.

Bettina Epp is a Los Altos resident.