Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Mayo Clinic: Hoarding


By Mayo Clinic staff

Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets in unsanitary conditions.

Hoarding, also called compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome, can be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But many people who hoard don't have other OCD-related symptoms, and researchers are working to better understand hoarding as a distinct mental health problem.

People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live a safer, more enjoyable life..."   More

Additional topics covered:

Symptoms; Causes; Risk Factors; Complications; Preparing for your appointment; Tests and Diagnosis; Treatments and Drugs; Prevention; Lifestyle and Home Remedies

The Causes & Symptoms of Hoarding

This article is part of a series, Understanding Compulsive Hoarding: How to Help a Person Who Hoards. Articles in this series include:
  1. Hoarding Solutions
  2. Hoarding: A Step-by-Step Guide
  3. Introduction to Hoarding:Traits & Characteristics of a Hoarder
  4. The Causes & Symptoms of Hoarding
  5. Hoarding from the Inside Out: How Hoarders Think
  6. Hoarding: When and How to Intervene

Hoarding 101 describes what causes hoarding and how prevalent it is, along with a profile of people who hoard and the typical items they collect.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Behind Closed Doors: Hoarding Pets

By KSFY Staff

This past week, humane officers with Second Chance Rescue Center in Sioux Falls took 22 cats and 15 dogs from 2 properties in Yankton County. They say the woman who owned the animals was hoarding them. We take a closer look at the problem and why it often has tragic results...  More

Thirty-three cats found in Plattsmouth rental home

By Patti Jo Peterson

PLATTSMOUTH - Thirty-three cats, two dogs, three ferrets, a wild rabbit and an indeterminate amount of wild mice were found in a Plattsmouth rental house today.

According to Plattsmouth Animal Control Officer Sue Baker many of the animals are sickly and in need of medical care.

"It's sickening. The environment is unhealthy," Baker said. "The cats had cockroaches crawling on them in the kennels."

"They had plenty of food but their living conditions and health is really in question."

Baker and other members of Plattsmouth Police Department removed the animals from the house, 613 Second Ave., where they lived with Cheryl Lillie, Linda Lillie, Beverly Lillie, Dan Wallace and Robert Airhart...

Baker explained, however, that people who take in this amount of animals do not see their actions as cruel.

"It's animal hoarding," Baker explained. A person thinks if he or she doesn't take care of these animals, nobody will, she explained.

"They want to feel like they are needed," Baker said.

Baker said had the police not intervened at the rental house, as many as 500 animals might have been kept there.

"Several were pregnant and several had litters," Baker said.

Kenan said the situation was brought to the attention of police early this week.

"Up until the day, Sue was the only one at the house. She suspected at least 30 cats were inside," Kenan said.

When Cheryl Lillie was questioned about the number of animals, she told Baker, "No way do I have 30 cats in this house."

Child protective services found a place for the 80-year-old Beverly Lillie to stay...  

Public domain photo

Friday, May 29, 2009

Analysis: The Psychology Behind Item Collecting And Achievement Hoarding

By Kris Graft, Gamasutra

You may recall the eccentric Collyer Brothers. Homer and Langley, heirs of one of New York’s oldest families, lived in a Manhattan mansion in the first half of the 1900s. There, the two became reclusive, boarding up their windows and accumulating over 100 tons of what most would classify as “junk” until the entire house was packed to the ceiling – anything from bundles of newspapers to the chassis of a Model T to 14 full-sized pianos.They were compulsive hoarders, and I think there’s a little bit of Collyer in all of us gamers...

One of the aspects of gaming today that most obviously appeals to our inner hoarder are Achievements. We joke around that video game “Achievements” are a misnomer, because what is it exactly that you’re achieving, other than sitting on your ass all day trying to kill 100,000 Locusts in Gears of War 2?.. ." More

A&E New Show: Obsessed

Intense and highly personal, A&E's true-life docuseries Obsessed examines the lives of everyday people impris- oned by unmanageable, repetitive behaviors and sometimes debilitating fear. Whether it is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Hoarding or a variety of phobias, the unscripted series gives viewers a chance to see first-hand how an obsession can radically affect a person's life.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Russian girl discovered 'behaving like dog'

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian child protection officers have taken into care a five-year-old girl who barks and laps up food like a dog having had more contact with canines than humans, police said on Wednesday.

The girl had been found in a filthy apartment living with relatives but also large numbers of cats and dogs, with whom she appeared more comfortable, police in the Eastern Siberian city of Chita said in a statement.

Never allowed outdoors, the girl had not learnt to speak but instead tried to communicate by barking.
When discovered by child protection officers, "the unwashed girl was dressed in filthy clothes" and "threw herself at people like a little dog."

"In all these years, the girl managed to master the animal language only," the statement said, adding that the girl could understand Russian, while not speaking it.
"For about five years the girl was 'brought up' by several dogs and cats and not once went outside," the statement said...

Currently living in a care facility and receiving medical and psychiatric help, the girl continues "to jump against the door and bark" if her carers leave the room she is occupying, the statement said.

It added that the girl had a good appetite but preferred to lap up food from a plate rather than use a spoon.

The police statement dubbed the girl "Mowgli" after a fictional character in a children's book by the Anglo-Indian writer Rudyard Kipling.

Police plan to open a criminal investigation for abuse, it added.

In March, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged action on child abuse, saying 760,000 children were living in "socially hazardous conditions"..."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kennewick woman faces animal cruelty charges

May, 14, 2009:  Breeder Faces Animal Cruelty Charges (but, dogs returned to breeder

KEPR TV:  Video & reports

KENNEWICK -- More than 200 white dogs with matted hair living in "deplorable conditions" remain at an east Kennewick home after their owner was charged with animal cruelty because Benton County doesn't have the resources to rescue them...

Ella Stewart, 66, has pleaded innocent to one charge of second-degree animal cruelty in Benton County District Court. She was released from jail without bail and is due back in court in June...

Stewart sells American Eskimos from the house through a company called Sun Valley Kennel, according to information found online and a sign posted on her door...

The conditions the dogs are living in are deplorable...Some are living in 2-by-2-foot cages and apple crates...

Others were found inside shopping carts with lumber and scrap metal placed on top, truck beds and air conditioning frames.

Some dogs were found sleeping on concrete, wooden floors with holes in them and some just on dirt, Lusignan said. The water bowls in most cages were green and covered in algae, he said.

"The dogs had matted hair and were living in pens containing their own feces and urine," he added.

The sheriff's office didn't seize the dogs because it doesn't have anywhere to take them or the resources to care for them, officials said.

"Benton County doesn't have a facility big enough, or the manpower designated to care for animals, in order to be able to provide these animals a safe harbor," Lusignan said. "Unfortunately, we have to leave them where they are."

County officials have investigated Stewart and the condition of the dogs and the property before.

Sheriff's deputies and the health department were looking into her operation in fall 2007.

At that time, she said she was trying to reduce the kennel's population on the two-acre property.

She said she was trying to find a good way to get rid of dogs that aren't breeding stock, but she didn't want to unload the animals on the Humane Society or have them killed.

She told the Herald then that the kennel was started in 1959, and she took it over in 1967.

Sun Valley Kennel was in place long before permits were required by the county, so it's been grandfathered in and doesn't need a special permit to operate, said planning officials.

Stewart said she's been working over several decades to develop the world's smallest Eskimo dog.

She said the kennel maintains bloodlines for the small dogs, which have to weigh less than 11 pounds to be considered a Sun Valley Eskimo.

"I'm taking care of the animals the best that I can," she said..."  More

Bolding & color added by blog editor

Flock of maltreated birds freed from tiny apartment

By:  Susan Houlton

Hundreds of cockatiels and canaries have been liberated from their hoarding owner who kept them locked up in cramped conditions in a one-bedroom apartment.

Animal protectionists, alerted to the situation by passers-by who had noticed the dirty apartment windows, seized the birds on grounds of maltreatment and subsequently removed them to an animal refuge..."  More

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AWARENESS: Hot Cars Can Be Deadly

Every year, dogs die after being locked inside hot cars. Leaving a dog for even a couple of minutes can be a fatal mistake. Your assistance is invaluable in our effort to spread the word about how dangerous hot cars are for dogs...."  More

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Understanding obsessions and compulsions

Obsessions are involuntary, seemingly uncontrollable thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas – in fact, you know that they don’t make any sense. But you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are usually disturbing and distracting.

Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. For example, if you’re afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming.

Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder fall into one of the following categories:

  • Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
  • Checkers repeatedly check things (oven turned off, door locked, etc.) that they associate with harm or danger.
  • Doubters and sinners are afraid that if everything isn’t perfect or done just right something terrible will happen or they will be punished.
  • Counters and arrangers are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements.
  • Hoarders fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They compulsively hoard things that they don’t need or use.

59 dogs seized at home in Bluffs

Officials lastyear took 69 dogsfrom same house

 — City officials removed 59 dogs and puppies Tuesday afternoon from a home in the Bluffs neighborhood after months of receiving complaints about the sounds and smells coming from the house.

It was the second time city animal services had to remove more than 50 animals from the property. In April 2008, 69 Shih Tzu dogs and puppies were taken from the house in the 6000 block of Kingsbridge Drive, on allegations of cruelty to animals because of cruel confinement.

“These are health-code violations,” city spokesman Ty Meighan said about Tuesday’s seizure.

Most of the dogs in Tuesday’s seizure were again Shih Tzus, but there were also dogs of other breeds taken away..."  More

Photo: Cynthia Esparza

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Experience Project: Federal Regulations on dog ownership

Should there be any federal laws made limiting the number of dogs a person can own and house on their personal property?
Should there be any federal laws made limiting the number of dogs a person can own and house on their personal property? If so, do you think this would help to restrict the growth of puppy mills and to help cut down on animal abuse and neglect?

Task force forms to help seniors with hoarding

By Elizabeth Eddy, Gloucester Daily Times

A new task force on Cape Ann has formed to better respond to the strange but not uncommon phenomenon of "hoarding."

Comprised of members from the Gloucester Health Department, elder protective services, SeniorCare, fire and police departments, building department, Gloucester Housing Authority and the Board of Health, the task force also includes the city animal inspector, mental health therapists, and a professional organizer to ensure many disciplines are represented...

Hoarding is defined as the acquisition of, and the failure to use or discard, a large number of seemingly useless objects that cause significant clutter and impair basic living activities. Hoarding tends to run in families, so may have a genetic component or be a learned behavior. A subset of obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, there are an estimated 700,000 to one million hoarders in the U.S.

"It is a mental illness and more common than most people think," Robinson said. "It impacts people's ability to function in their daily lives, and impacts their relationships with others."...

Hoarders may accumulate items which are perceived to have little or no value, such as bottle caps and newspapers, or even save trash such as hair clippings and cigarette butts. These persons may also feel they are being noble by "recycling" hopelessly broken appliances. Other hoarders compulsively acquire items through retail shopping, ebay, and the Home Shopping Network — the type of things that a hoarder obtains is less critical to their diagnosis than the extent of their acquiring or their difficulty discarding anything....

Despite the chaos and isolation that surrounds them, hoarders are surprisingly perfectionist, and want to do everything right, so become afraid of making mistakes and can't let anything go. Hoarding is usually not related to deprivation, although it is tied to trauma and loss. "This is somebody who strives for perfection so much that when it doesn't happen, they become immobilized. If it's not going to be perfect, they can't do it at all," she continued.

Hoarders may also acquire animals, often tragically. Even if the hoarder has good intentions, keeping animals they can't care for properly results in much suffering and filth. It is not uncommon for health officials to encounter 20 dogs or cats in an apartment without enough food or a place to relive themselves. "It's sad when animals are involved," Robinson said.

Hoarding is very stressful for human family members as well. Living space is often lost as possessions accumulate and health and comfort may suffer. For example, the family may eat take out food for dinner every night because there are piles of junk heaped on the counters and stove and no one can cook.

The effect of hoarding on children may be profound. Children may not feel comfortable bringing their friends home, and protective services are often called because the safety of home becomes questionable...  More

SPCA’s approach draws fire in Schenectady cat collector case

By Kathleen Moore, Daily Gazette 

 — For the past two months, the SPCA has known about a cat collector in the Stockade neighborhood. But they haven’t swooped in to remove the animals or arrest the owner. Instead, they sent officers over every week to counsel and cajole the man into changing his ways.

It’s an unusually gentle approach that has raised the ire of some local cat rescue agencies, groups that were dealing with collectors — also known as “hoarders” — long before the SPCA formed a chapter here last year.

The more experienced groups want to remove every cat — the owner in this case allegedly has 15 to 17 — and spay or neuter them. Then the cats would be adopted out to new homes.

But the man doesn’t want to give up his cats, and the SPCA won’t snatch them from him.

“He’s of limited skills and limited funds,” SPCA chief Mathew Tully said. “These animals are his family and best friends. Our SPCA strategy in these types of cases is an arrest is the absolute last possible resort.”

So far, his officers have persuaded the man to let four cats be sterilized....

Even then, they had to promise that the cats would be returned to him after their surgery.

None of the other cats are sick, but they’re all unneutered, and with the warmer weather triggering fertility...

The situation is infuriating Sue Green, chairwoman of Guilderhaven, a Guilderland nonprofit that provides low-cost vaccinations and sterilization clinics.

She and others planned a raid in which they would take all of the cats, sterilize them and adopt them out. It failed because the SPCA refused to use its law enforcement powers to force entry into the house. The owner wouldn’t let them in voluntarily.

“We had planned a massive removal of cats there to be spayed and neutered at our expense, and this man did not bother to answer the door,” she said. ...

But not without the help of the SPCA. It is the only animal rights agency in the county invested with law enforcement powers — such as the right to arrest owners and allow rescue groups to take the animals away.

City officials say that hoarding animals is not illegal, as long as the animals are all well taken care of....

“He needs to be stopped,” Green said. “We’re willing to work with people, but the object of any organization is the animal, the welfare of the animal.”

Green emphasized that she doesn’t want the hoarder jailed or fined. But she wants him arrested and required by law to report all future addresses. He would also have to allow unannounced inspections so agencies could make sure he was no longer hoarding, she said....

But Tully said removing the cats wouldn’t stop the problem.

“Hoarding is a case that involves complex mental and social issues,” he said, noting that most hoarders adopt new animals as soon as agencies take their collection away.

He thinks it’s more effective to persuade people with multiple pets to take better care of them — particularly by sterilizing them to keep the pack from increasing exponentially.

With those agencies providing the surgery, all Tully has to do is persuade the collectors to take the plunge. He thinks persuasion will work....

He knows his philosophy is not welcomed by Guilderhaven and other local agencies..."  More

Public domain photo

One Hundred Animals, One Owner

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Three plead guilty in Highlands cat-hoarding case

By Matt Pais,

"...Henry Deininger, 59, Joan Deininger, 54, and Jessica Deininger, 30, each must pay $1,000 in fines, said Victor "Buddy" Amato, chief of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

County animal control officials seized the cats in April and charged each family member with animal cruelty after it was discovered the animals were provided neither adequate sustenance or veterinary care..." More

Public domain photo

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Calhoun woman arrested, accused of running 'puppy mill'

By WILL HOBSON / News Herald Writer

"...Dozens of high-pitched barks pierced the air. A herd of miniature goats ran laps around an old, white school bus. The acrid odor of feces and urine wafted out of the dilapidated white house, and the barks grew louder each time the door opened.

This was the scene outside the home of Beth Hall, a 59-year-old Calhoun County woman arrested Friday morning on a charge of felony cruelty to animals. Bay County Animal Control (BCAC) was called in by the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office to assist with the raid on the alleged puppy mill. Hall shared the one-bedroom home and small, fenced-in yard with 89 Chihuahuas, five horses and 16 goats, said BCAC Director Jim Crosby.

"The conditions were horrible," Crosby said. "The puppies were fed, but the place is caked in feces and urine. She had too many animals for one person to reasonably care for. This is a high-volume, substandard commercial breeder, aka, a puppy mill."..."  More

Passaic County animal rescuer gives up 32 dogs, cats that officials removed from home


"...When officials went to Puccio's home in February, they said they found many animals kept in wire cages surrounded by urine and feces. Puccio said she had rescued many dogs in the Paterson area and initially kept them in backyard kennels, but moved them indoors after neighbors complained...."  More

Photo by Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger

Lethal Ammonia Levels Found In Man's Home With 49 Animal

By Christine Kennedy, WITN

Animal urine and feces created a stench so bad neighbors were forced to call Bertie County Officials. They say what produced the nearly lethal ammonia levels at one man's home is shocking.

Bertie County Officials say they seized 46 dogs and three cats Thursday morning from one man's home in Lewiston.

Many of the animals are suffering from malnutrition, skin disorders, and abnormal social behaviors.

Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins says no charges have been filed as of Thursday evening, but misdemeanor animal cruelty charges will most likely be served Friday.

One state veterinarian involved in the case says the ammonia levels produced by the animal waste was the highest she's ever seen."

Workers at the Bertie County Animal Shelter say this man may have picked up nearby pets.

Bertie County Animal Shelter says if you are missing a pet and live in the Lewiston area, your pet may be involved in Thursday's seizure of 46 dogs and 3 cats. The shelter says they have pictures of every animal, and you will have the opportunity to claim your pet

Call the Bertie County Humane Society at 252-325-3647...  More

Bertie County Humane Society

92 dogs seized from suburban home

By JANET KELLEY, Lancaster On-Line

"...Officials said the home at 87 Linda Ave., located off Old Philadelphia Pike near Greenfield Road, belongs to 41-year-old Terri Palmer-Roby, who was operating the "Pendragwn Chow Chow Rescue."...

"Conditions at the home had deteriorated into a classic hoarding situation, resulting in unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions for both the dogs and the people," Megan Gallagher-Clark, the Humane League's vice president of development, said this morning.

The woman operating the rescue, Palmer-Roby, voluntarily signed over the dogs to the Humane League, officials said. At press time, no charges had been filed against her..." More & video

Photo courtesy of Celine

Monday, May 18, 2009

Animal Hoarding - Alone in a Crowded Room

Animal Hoarding - Alone in a Crowded Room

Our experiences with hoarders began with the attempt to understand or rationalize their behaviors, and to answer our own questions and those affected by hoarders. We’ve come to the conclusion that hoarding is like a drug: the “addict” is unable to control their impulses or their need for their “drug”; they make excuses, often pleading and making manipulative promises and statements, trying to protect their lifestyle and justify their behavior.

Once we put it within this perspective we could better understand that the hoarder, not unlike a drug addict, needs psychological help, far beyond our capacity. They need professional intervention, counseling and follow-up care. But where to begin?

This is where we hope we can help. We have done our best to set this website up with all the current information available: up-to-date research, guidelines, news stories etc. If it’s out there on the web we will post it here, and will continue to update and add information...

We hope this website will offer you some comfort and assistance. Having a hoarder in your life is not easy; while they are bright and charming people, they are also hard to say ‘no’ to, and hard to rationalize with. Do not lose hope, but be prepared to set goals and limits for yourself. It is important you do not get lost and also become “alone in a crowded room.”.. More

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Animal hoarders out of control

By Amanda Woods, The Sydney Morning Herald

ANIMAL "hoarding" is costing the RSPCA up to $1 million a year.

About 15 per cent of the group's anti-cruelty enforcement budget now goes towards fighting legal challenges from accused hoarders who accumulate an average of 30 animals in their homes.

One case involved the discovery of 270 cats in one Sydney house.

In some cases animals never leave the house or are kept in cages in a home, resulting in a build-up of faeces and carcasses.

About 200 hoarding cases have been uncovered in the past year. It is believed that 20,000 animals are kept in hoarding conditions in NSW.

Despite dead animals being in her bath, the woman who owned the 270 cats still believed she was doing the right thing..."  More

ALDF v. Woodley | Before the Rescue

Hoarders like Barbara Woodley keep abnormally large numbers of animals for whom they do not provide even the most basic care. Animal victims of hoarders—an estimated quarter-million nationwide—typically suffer horribly as a result, and their misery can go on for years. Images of the dogs rescued in ALDF v. Woodley, and the conditions in which they were found, leave no doubt that hoarding is one of the most egregious forms of animal cruelty facing communities nationwide.

Help stop animal hoarding!
Support ALDF's First Strike and You're Out law.
Return to
Oprah Profiles ALDF v. Woodley—Rescue Redux

More & slideshow

Mental health officials discuss animal hoarding

By J.R. Williams, NV Daily

Experts say the lives of "animal hoarders" typically are marked by withdrawal and psychological instability masked by a desire to protect their companions.

"They don't see suffering and filth. They see their family," said Gary J. Patronek, vice president of animal welfare at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and co-author of a study on animal hoarding published recently in Clinical Psychology Review.

"They see a peaceable kingdom," he said. "Even though it's very hard to imagine, this is their point of security. It's not about the animals. It's about what the animal does for them."..  More

Mayn14, 2009: 192 Cats Found in Va. Mobile Home

STEPHENS CITY, Va. - A Frederick County woman could face animal cruelty charged after officials took 200 cats from her trailer in Stephens City. It is the worst cat hoarding case in 30 years.  "It was horrendous to put it mildly. There was feces and cat urine. The urine was 2-3 feet up on the wall," explained Frederick County Sheriff's Office Major Robert Eckman.  The cats are in a shelter now, but many are sick and some have even died-- many are pregnant. They are now at the Frederick County Animal Shelter in Winchester, Virginia.  FOX 5 obtained pictures inside the trailer. Authorities say it took two days to capture them all...

The cats' owner is a 50-year-old Linda MCLaughlin, who lived alone. She could get charged with animal cruelty...  More & video

Public domain photo