Department of Health taking action against rat-infested Punta Gorda Walgreens

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Shoppers are on edge after rats were caught roaming a Walgreens in Punta Gorda. Now, the Charlotte County Department of Health has filed a complaint against the store with the Department of Agriculture after seeing the photos.

The horrifying pictures show the rodents found by an employee at the Punta Gorda store on Monaco and US-41.

When WINK News showed pictures of rats inside the Walgreens to shoppers, they couldn’t believe it and were grossed out.

Rats in a Punt Gorda Walgreens. (Credit: shared with WINK News)

The Walgreens employee who shared the photos with WINK News first noticed the rats around Halloween near the food, crawling on the walls and dead on the floor.

The employee even saw bite marks on a chocolate bar that a woman was trying to buy.

On Friday, Walgreens sent a statement confirming the rat infestation and said the company was working to fix it.

Shoppers said they don’t plan to return to this store anytime soon.

“It’s sickening. We just found out about it. Kinda scary,” said Sam Isaac.

“If there’s a rat infestation, they need to close the store and make it right that is not right,” said Bob Cruise.

“I’m not gonna buy any edible foods in there, that’s for sure. Maybe medication, but I don’t plan on eating anything from there anytime soon. You figure they could get an exterminator in there and get them gone. This should be like a 24-hour process if you’ve got rats in a food store,” Frank Mosca said.

It turns out there is no 24-hour process to get rid of rates, according to Ned Bruha, better known as the wildlife whisperer.

Bruha said the problem is bigger than the rats. “If you have rats in a building, you do not have rat problems. You have a building problem.”

Bruha said the first order of business is to find out how they’re getting inside. “If Walgreens was my client, and they wanted to get rid of the rats, I wouldn’t be setting traps or throwing poison around. What I would be doing is looking for their entry and exit point. And I would devise a plan to fix the house or the building, make it so that once they leave, they can’t get back in.”

As for how long it’ll take, Bruha said that’s up to Walgreens.

“If there’s holes in there, they need to be fixed. So to answer your question more directly, how long does it take to get rid of a rat problem? As long as it takes to fix the building,” said Bruha.

Walgreens said the company’s working to fix the rat problem and is now going to step up its efforts.

The only good news is that the Health Department said there are no reports of rodent-related illnesses from the Walgreens.

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