A six-times national karate champion has hired a cute assistant - to help him catch rats.

Martial arts black-belt Rob Loft, 63, used to run karate centres at York Barbican and Oaklands - but now runs a pest control business.

And his trusty sidekick is Patch, a four-year-old Parson Russell Terrier - an expert at sniffing out rodents. 


Rod had formerly developed a children’s health and wellbeing programme called Freddy Fit, delivering it to schools across the UK.

When the pandemic arrived, Rob teamed up with his son Jay, who had a keen interest in country pest control after getting work experience in game keeping on the Helperby Estate while at Manor School in York.

Rob enjoyed time with Jay and decided to form a pest control company Yor-Pest Control, having qualified with Basis Prompt, a UK training body.

Based in Woodthorpe, Yor-Pest provides control across the board, including insects, rodents and birds.

Rob’s other son Cory is currently studying for his level 2 BPCA in pest control to make it truly a family business delivering primarily to York, Wetherby and Harrogate.  

And, of course, there is the fourth family team member - Patch.

Rob told the Press: “I realised early on when dealing with rat control, poison was not the best answer as you cannot control where the rodent dies and the smell is difficult for customers to deal with.

“I travelled to North Wales where Patch’s dad was a farm ratting dog. Patch has been at my side since then. He has a fantastic nose for finding entry points and chasing down rats.

“Our customers do find Patch amazing when he enters the property and he has no time for a hello, he just gets on with his job.”

York Press: Patch is ready for action

Jay and Cory visit up to 10 properties a day. Patch, with the help of traps, can catch 15-20 rats a week.

As a team Rob says they are always learning about rats, describing them as an extremely clever rodent. They are ‘neophobic’ avoiding new things in their territory which can make them notoriously difficult to catch.

“Our main aim if possible is to find the entry point [to the property] then trap [the rats] to take [them] away,” he said.

“Rats are opportunists always looking for entry points to gain access to keep warm and chew. They  do not always find food and water so they come and go.”

While cleanliness helps deter rats, they can enter clean homes too, and they love food and warmth.

Pest controllers say using cheese in traps is for the cartoons, bacon and Nutella is favoured for bait. Rob swears by porridge oats, peanut butter and Barratt’s Liquorice Allsorts.

York Press: Patch can smell something

It can take from 10 days to five weeks to clear a property of rats.

This month, the family have been particularly busy due to flooding.

Rob added: “As water levels rise across the area, rats are often pushed up to higher ground to find food, so we are very busy during these periods chasing them down.”