Author Topic: Dear Abby: Dealing with Dead Animals Backstage  (Read 3228 times)

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Dear Abby: Dealing with Dead Animals Backstage
« on: Apr 28, 2008, 03:35 am »
The following has been posted on behalf of a member who wishes to remain anonymous.

Here's my situation: We have had a mouse problem at my theatre all season, and now we're finding dead mice throughout the building including backstage. Two days ago a foul smell began emitting from backstage - of course a dead mouse. I put it in the report that night, and nothing was done about it since it was the top of the weekend and much of the staff was off. Yesterday was a two-show day and the smell got really bad by the end of the first show. My crew member went looking around to try to find the source, but accessed that the mouse must be in the wall. When the production manager came in to house manage for the night, I mentioned it to her and said that it needed to be taken care of - to which the answer was "I don't care. I'm not looking for a dead mouse." (another issue there in the response, but that is being dealt with seperately.) So we went through a third show with the smell of a rotting animal wafting into the dressing room and backstage. Today was the fourth show and now the odor is going out into the house.

The actors and crew are very upset (and rightfully so). I'm hoping that my multiple report notes and phone calls to the managing director will make something happen. But, in the event that the situation is not resolved, what are my options to go about it in a "legal" manner? We are under an Equity contract, so I suppose it could fall under "Safe & Sanitary." Any thoughts/advice?


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Re: Dear Abby: Dealing with Dead Animals Backstage
« Reply #1 on: Apr 28, 2008, 10:45 am »
I agree. Safe and Sanitary might be an option.  It's definitely not sanitary.

I know that I had this problem once, but it was stinking in the Sound and SM booth.  After a day or two of it, it began giving me intense headaches because of the strength of the smell.  eventually, in our case, it went away quickly, but no one seemed to want to deal with it where I was either.

Get in touch with the managing director then get in touch with Equity. Keep us posted.


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Re: Dear Abby: Dealing with Dead Animals Backstage
« Reply #2 on: Apr 28, 2008, 11:07 am »
Obviously they bait for mice & not put out traps for them. Train a Cat & use mouse traps, as poisoning they only go away to die & pong!
Also ensure the security alarm is isolated to areas, that the cat can  wander around in at night, without causing an alarm.
It would come under your Environmental H&S Act &/or risk assessment surely!
Tio Tio Chookas
{May you always play to a full house}
'Hear the light & see the sound'


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Re: Dear Abby: Dealing with Dead Animals Backstage
« Reply #3 on: Apr 28, 2008, 12:51 pm »
Perhaps a reminder to the Managing Director that rodent infestation is dealt with by the OSHA organization. Then a call to the AEA Business Rep that handles that contract and let the Union do their job!
Ordo ab chao


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Re: Dear Abby: Dealing with Dead Animals Backstage
« Reply #4 on: Jun 12, 2008, 10:17 pm »
Who owns the building?  I'd go through the channels until you at least ascertain that they aren't baiting, but trapping, and that an exterminator has tried to find the dead rodent. In the venues I work at, I'd talk to the theater manager about it (which means calling during business hours) and asking about pest control efforts underway.  If your company owns the theater, go through company managment.

But, all that aside, for what it's worth, sometimes you can't find the dead animal and there is nothing to do but wait it out. The Union and OSHA aren't going to rip out the theater walls for you.  You have my sympathy if that is the case. I had this happen at my house and my husband and I stayed at a hotel one night because of the stench.  Multiple exterminators could not find the dead rat (but did find another live one) and they said it's common for rodents to die in inaccessible places, because they seek "safety" when they're ill and dying.  Which is why trapping is better than baiting.


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