(NEW YORK CITY) The animal rights group PETA has formally petitioned NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to save the KFC rats. In addition, a small but vocal group of protestors keeping a round-the-clock vigil outside of the restaurant in Greenwich Village vows to take necessary action to prevent what PETA calls mass “ratricide.”

Although many locals expressed disgust at seeing rats at KFC, PETA took the opposite tack, calling them “misunderstood rodents, too long maligned.” According to PETA spokesman Jeremy Swayzee, “they carry no more diseases than humans, and probably aren’t half as infectious.”

Bloomberg’s office declined to answer Swayzee’s petition, instead issuing a document reiterating New York City’s ordinance that requires KFC to exterminate the rats immediately or to face stiff fines or closure.

Local News Camera 2, a CBS affiliate, first caught sight of more than a dozen rats scampering on the floor, up and down chairs, and even across dining tables at the eatery. The video has been picked up by news affiliates around the world, even outlets as far away as France.

“Whoever first exposed them is a rat fink,” Swayzee said before self correcting. “No, make that a human fink.”

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