UPDATED 08/23/12 5:09 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The city debuts a beefed-up rat patrol on Thursday, as the rodent population rises at an alarming rate.

As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones and Susanna Song report, the Department of Streets and Sanitation is rolling out two extra rodent poisoning crews to help control the city’s rat problem.

Streets and Sanitation already has 15 rat crews on the street.

But complaints about rat problems have gone up this year, and officials said so will their response. The city says calls to 31 1 are up 28 percent this year.

Officials at the Department of Streets and Sanitation said they’re working with Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) to inspect and bait every alley possible in his ward. The alderman wants to stop any infestation before it starts.

Officials emphasize that if you leave food out in the open, the rats will come. Thus, it is important to keep your trash cans and dumpsters closed, and the food inside.

Residents say rats are running rampant through Chicago streets.

Logan Square homeowner Guillermo Alvarado said. “I have caught seven rats in my house just last week. … In the house; big ones, small ones. I’ve caught two this year in the garage.”

“I even got them named. There’s so many,” another Chicago resident said.

“There’s one main one that owns that right there,” he said of a set of garbage cans in his alley, explaining one rat in the alley will chase off other rats that try to get in the trash cans.

As they await the extra Streets and Sanitation crews, ome neighbors have been putting out a little bait of their own.

“It’s gotten to the point where they don’t take the bait, and the traps, I guess they avoid them.” Alvarado said.

He and others said they’ve noticed trash cans overflowing nearby, attracting rats hungry for a meal.

Although posted placards said the city baited the area just days ago.

“But it still is not doing any good,” Alvarado said.

Workers at Ald. Rey Colon’s (35th) office have taken some of the complaints and reported them.

A worker in Colon’s office explained, when a resident calls in about a rodent problem on his or her block, the office plugs that location into a zoning map on their computers, then bait every alley around that location.

We asked Colon’s office what the biggest problem seems to be in causing rat problems in the ward.

“We live in the city, so not everybody has the same standards on how they’re going to dispose of their garbage,” said Colon’s chief of staff, Martha Ramos. “It could be multiple reasons. It could be a big rain coming down that overflows the sewers, so the rats are going to come up. It could be any excavation, or new construction going around in the area.”

Animal experts said the unseasonably warm winter meant rats that would have died off in the cold survived the winter instead, so there are simply more of them in the city this summer.

Streets and Sanitation Department officials said they’ve put out more poison to fight the increase in an effort to be proactive.

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