Monday, November 30, 2009


Tamara Lush

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For years, no one on Crest Drive paid much attention to the little white house with pink trim.

The front yard was overgrown with shrubs and three cars sat motionless in the driveway.

Neighbors on the quiet street knew the owner, a retired psychologist named Carina DeOcampo, was an odd, private person – even her family would leave bags of food on the front steps, then quickly drive away.

But folks here were shocked in early October when police forced their way into the home and discovered the 72-year-old DeOcampo dead, surrounded by six feet of garbage that packed the house.

DeOcampo was a hoarder.

“She had trails throughout the house, from her chair to the kitchen to her bedroom,” said neighbor David Collins, who peered in the front door after DeOcampo’s body was removed. “It was unbelievable.”,,," More

A & E Show: Hoarders

Hoarders Premieres Nov 30th on A & E

Season Two line-up:


14 years ago Jason was removed from his mother Augustine's home by Child Protective Services because of her hoarding. She was never able to clean up enough to have him return. Now, as an adult living on the other side of the country, he is filled with shame and resentment, but unable to turn his back on her. Her hoarding has become so severe that she has lived without water, gas, heat or appliances for the last four years--bathing only once a week at her sister's house. Complaints from neighbors have instigated a court ordered clean-up and she is now facing fines and the threat of jail time. We follow Jason as he tries one last time to rescue his mother from the filth he escaped from years ago.

Judi and Gail

When rescue workers were called to Judi's home they found her stuck in massive amounts of clutter and were forced to remove her through the kitchen window. The city condemned her home and she was placed in a rehabilitation facility. But time is running out. Medicare will stop paying in two weeks and Judi has nowhere to go. Gail once lived the disciplined life of a ballerina; but now her house is so full of possessions that the floors are sinking, the gas line is bent and the water pipes are broken. Goats have eaten through the siding to the back bedroom and chickens, dogs, and cats can be seen roaming among the piles of clutter in the house. Gail must clean up enough to make repairs before winter.

Chris and Dale

After the death of her newborn son, Chris filled the void by surrounding herself with possessions. Attention Deficit Disorder makes it impossible for her to focus long enough to clean up. She's now at risk of losing custody of her daughters who are still living in the house. Dale is at risk of eviction from his city subsidized housing because his apartment is filled with "found objects" that he hopes to one day turn into works of art. After he repeatedly failed to meet deadlines for cleaning, the court began the process to stop his housing subsidy. He won't be eligible for another three years and has no other place to go.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Puppy mill laws poised for enactment


When Tim and Tara Eichman first laid eyes on Archie, a Lhasapoo rescued from Puppy Haven Kennel in Green Lake County last year, they saw one ugly, sick puppy.

But, dog lovers that they are, they looked past his unattractive exterior and recognized a diamond in the rough. He was covered in a tangle of urine and feces-matted fur run amuck. And once the fur was shaved off, things weren't much better. Archie had gross sores on his puny limbs. He was malnourished and had intestinal worms along with myriad other health problems.

"He was not the kind of dog you'd walk past and say, 'Aw, isn't he cute?'" Tara Eichman said.

Photos: View a gallery of Archie, a puppy mill dog now in a loving home

It took months of TLC but now Archie is sleek and happy and ruling the roost at the Eichman home.

"It took four or five months for him to heal up, get his fur back and for us to fatten him up. For a while we were the only ones who would pet him," Tim said.

On Tuesday afternoon Archie greeted guests and wagged his tail wildly as he lapped up affection from a pair a visitors at the Eichmans' Oshkosh home. The household is a whir of activity most days with baby son Ethan and three dogs – Archie, a pit bull named Maggie and a black lab mix named Sascha..." More

Friday, November 27, 2009

Court bans Falls Creek dog owner from having any animals

A Falls Creek man has been ordered to pay $155,000 in fines and costs, and banned from owning animals for 10 years, for multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Dario (David) Baena failed to appear in Nowra Local Court yesterday and was convicted in his absence.

He was charged in October last year after RSPCA inspectors found almost 200 dogs living in putrid conditions, with many in very poor physical state.

A number of dead puppies were found; some tied together with wire had died of strangulation.

The inspectors seized 185 dogs and charged Baena with a number of offences, including three counts of aggravated animal cruelty and eight counts of committing an act of animal cruelty.

Baena pleaded guilty in February, but 10 more charges were laid in May after a second RSPCA visit.

The new charges included two counts of failing to comply with the Animal Welfare Code of Practice, and one count each of failing to exercise reasonable care, failing to provide proper and sufficient food, and committing an act of animal cruelty.

Magistrate Doug Dick found Baena guilty of all 10 additional charges, saying it was his responsibility to protect animals.

Baena was fined a total of $20,350 and ordered to pay costs of $134,962.

Most of the fine was awarded to RSPCA NSW.

RSPCA NSW chief inspector David O'Shannessy said the conviction was pleasing and was a reminder to the community that housing animals in such deplorable conditions was unacceptable and would not be tolerated..." More

79 dogs removed from home, euthanized

79 dogs removed from home, euthanized


SUMMERFIELD -- Seventy-nine dogs removed from a double-wide mobile home in Summerfield on Tuesday have been euthanized.

A spokeswoman with Marion County animal control said personnel had worked throughout the night to clean the cocker spaniel and Chihuahua mix dogs and assess their health, in hopes of putting them up for adoption.

The dogs were dirty, unkempt and had badly matted fur.

But workers discovered the animals had the highly contagious and dangerous virus, canine parvovirus.

The animals had to be put to sleep.

Elaine DeIorio, Animal Program coordinator, said the incident was a perfect example of why dogs need to be vaccinated, neutered or spayed.

"This didn't have to spiral out of control, it didn't have to be a sad story," Delorio said. "It could have had a happy ending."

The dogs' 54-year-old owner, Christine Watson, told animal control officials she had been overwhelmed with the number of animals and could no longer care for all of them. More

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

76 Animals Recover After Puppy-Mill Raid

Shelley Childers

West Odessa, Texas - Odessa Animal Control is calling yesterday's puppy mill raid the worst they have ever seen, and they still have not found the people responsible. This is actually the second time officials have visited the property. Back in 2007 residents did comply with orders, making this abuse and neglect that much more surprising.

“Yea, this is the worst I've ever seen. This is probably the worst." Animal Control Officer Cheryl Brom said of the animal’s conditions.

It took Odessa Animal Control three separate trips to rescue 76 animals from this run down property. Starved and trapped to live in their own urine and feces.

"I was 15 feet from the truck and I could smell that odor," Brom described the living conditions.

Office Brom says it has been days and weeks since many of these animals have been fed. During the rescue two dogs were killed, trapped in a pin with bigger older dogs, Brom says she wouldn't rule out hunger as the reason.

"When we saw that, we knew we had animals that were being killed by other dogs, and we could smell something going on here."

What was once a puppy mill for Chihuahuas became a hoarding facility. Many of the dogs have collars and tags, leading investigators to question if any of these dogs were stolen.

"I’m curious, there's a pure bred Dachshund in there and it just doesn't look like it belongs," said Brom.

The 74 dogs, three cats, and one pig are now safe under the roof of animal control. With so many animals Brom says checking dog tags and health evaluations will take days..." More & video

Fit for neither man nor beast

In response to complaints from neighbors that the noise and stench at a Utopia property were worsening, Bandera County Animal Control launched the largest seizure it has yet undertaken. With the help of 15 volunteers from varied rescue organizations, 43 dogs and two cats were taken into custody on Monday. Also discovered during the raid was a small child, sleeping in the midst of what witnesses described as deplorable.

"Filthy would be an understatement," Bandera County Animal Control Liaison Jennifer Gaertner said.

Gaertner said that authorities secured a warrant signed by Justice of the Peace Lynn Holt and headed toward the Utopia residence at 9 a.m. on Nov. 23. Between two mobile homes on approximately 10 acres, Gaertner said the dogs, all different varieties of miniature dachshund, were housed in inhumane conditions.

"The dog houses were made of pressed wood with no bottoms... there was no place for the dogs to get off of the wet ground," Gaertner said, who further described partitions separated by bare ground wire fencing with two to six dogs per run.

Gaertner said the inside of the houses were cluttered, unkempt and littered with animal feces and urine. An elderly couple reportedly lives in one of the homes, while a younger couple lives in the other with four children. Authorities alerted Child Protective Services, who removed a 3-year-old girl immediately, as well as her three siblings who were at school during the animal seizure. According to Director of Law Enforcement Richard Smith, the children were placed with their grandparents in Utopia on a safety plan..." More

Officials remove 113 animals from property

By Bill Hankins

COOPER — Delta County Sheriff’s Department and the SPCA of Texas seized 101 dogs, seven donkeys, four Chinchillas and one Cockatiel on Monday from a property in Delta County in what the SPCA said is a case of cruelty to animals.

The 101 dogs were cruelly confined in various pens, trailers and a shed on the property, all of which the SPCA said are covered in feces and urine.

A custody hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 in the Delta County Courthouse, 200 W. Dallas St., Cooper.

Justice of the Peace Bud Skinner will preside.

SPCA said the dogs kept in the pens were forced to live in sewage, a mixture of mud, urine and feces. The trailers and shed are covered in feces and urine and both trailers are filled with furniture, trash and other debris.

The stench of ammonia in the shed was called “overpowering.”

“The sub-floors of the trailers were soft and spongy because they were so soaked with urine,” said Courtney Stevens, chief investigator for the SPCA of Texas. “Some dogs were running loose in rooms, others were confined in small closets.”..." More

Hoarding: A dirty little secret

Sara Welch

Hartford (WTNH) - News Channel 8 went inside the home of a hoarder to find out more about the disorder that affects one in 20 Americans.

On the outside, Kathleen Welch's home looks like any of the other condos in her Newington neighborhood.

"OK, when you walk, be careful," Welch said as our cameras entered her condo. "Watch your step, there's only a little path."

Inside, was a secret that Welch had been keeping.

"I didn't want anyone in here. For me to let you in is big for me," she said.

Stacks of boxes, furniture, piles of clothes and even items that Kathleen doesn't even use are strewn about.

"Here's a Christmas tree - I don't even celebrate Christmas," she said. "I even have my first cell phone over here, which I'm not sure why I kept that."

When she couldn't find things, she'd just buy new ones. The clutter consumes nearly every room in her house, consuming her with feelings of frustration and anxiety..." More & video

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

179 Animals Seized; Couple Facing Charges

More than 180 warrents issued

Warrants have been issued for an Anderson County Animal Control officer and his estranged wife, who’s an animal rescue worker. Both are facing 92 charges each of ill treatment of animals.

Deputies investigating a report of maltreatment at an Anderson home found several dead animals and seized 177 dogs, a cat and a bird.

A complaint against Faith Patterson, 36, of Bagwell Road, was made to the Anderson County Department of Public Safety. Because it was determined that Patterson's husband, Wade Patterson, is a Department of Safety Animal Control officer, the Anderson Sheriff's Office was asked to conduct the investigation. The officer has been put on administrative leave pending the the outcome of the investigation.

On Wednesday, investigators at the home said they found several dog carcasses on the property and numerous malnourished dogs living in inhumane conditions..." More

96 Starved Animals Seized In Cannon Co

The U.S. Humane Association, the Cannon County Sherriff's Department and veterinarians were busy Tuesday making one of the biggest horse cruelty seizures in middle Tennessee history.

The Humane Association, which has been working since Monday night, said the horses are in poor health and the farm is littered with 15 animal carcasses.

"What we're seeing is a pure case of animal cruelty and neglect," said Scotlund Haisley, Humane Society of the U.S. "I mean, we're talking about horses that are literally starving to death as we speak."

Twice as many animals than they expected were found..." More

84 horses confiscated from Cannon Co. farm & video

Animal welfare groups put cooperation to work

By Sharon L. Peters

When the biggest dogfighting bust in history – a multi-state, multi-agency effort – went down last summer, the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals joined forces to help the Humane Society of Missouri compile evidence and care for more than 500 animals. In September, the American Humane Association arrived to help; this month Best Friends Animal Society was among groups that transported dogs to new locales.

It's the kind of cooperative effort unheard of in times past.

But major animal welfare organizations are regularly partnering – without fanfare and on an ad hoc basis – on a range of projects, from saving animals in natural disasters to rescuing puppy-mill dogs, fighting dogs and animals held by hoarders, to pressing for legislation..." More

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's the Deal With "Cat Ladies"?

Voters in Dudley, Mass., passed a ballot measure on Tuesday making it illegal to own more than three cats without a special license. The new law came about after residents complained that one woman's 15 cats were running amok in neighbors' yards. In an Explainer column first published in 2005 and reprinted below, Daniel Engber gets to the bottom of the "cat lady" phenomenon.

A Virginia judge declared on Monday that 82-year-old Ruth Knueven is unfit to own pets, after animal-control officers seized her 488 cats. Local law enforcement and animal-control officials say they found 120 cats in her house in 2001 and that they've discovered several other cat hoarders in the area over the past year. What's the deal with "cat ladies"?

Not all animal hoarders are cat ladies, but most are. The typical person who gets caught with more pets than she can handle is a woman over the age of 60 who lives alone. Experts say there are a handful of animal-hoarding cases per 100,000 Americans each year, which translates to a few thousand incidents annually. The problem seems to be a global one: The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium receives e-mails about animal hoarders in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Dooley Worth and Alan M. Beck conducted what may have been the first survey on the issue in New York City in 1981. They found that two-thirds of the obsessive collectors were women and that 70 percent were single. Cats and dogs were the most commonly stockpiled pets, and women were proportionally more likely than men to acquire cats. (Subsequent research has found that people do occasionally hoard farm animals, rabbits, horses, and birds, but not as often as cats and dogs.) Worth and Beck found that animal hoarders tended to be somewhat isolated, but this seemed to be the result—and not the cause—of their large pet collections..." More


By Courtny Gerrish

When does collecting become a compulsion? Hoarding is a disease, not a habit. And it can destroy homes and ruin lives.

From the outside, hoarders look like anyone else you'd pass on the street. Inside, however, they are hurting.

Their homes are disasters.

"Geri" is a hoarder. The Milwaukee County woman agreed to talk to us, in the hope of helping others.

"It just started to heap up," she explained simply.

But when we went into Geri's house, it was unimaginable.

The floor was covered with bags of stuffed animals, books, paperwork, pots, pans and garbage..." More

Experts: Animal hoarding a growing problem

LEE COUNTY: Animal Services says more animals are being found in unthinkable living conditions and that it’s a growing problem.

Officials with Lee County Animal Services say the number of hoarding cases it has responded to has doubled this year.

For years Andrea Jones, who works for Lee County Animal Services, has been fighting for the four legged. She says it's never easy when animals are part of a hoarding case.

“They're fighting for their own food. They're fighting for water. They're eating the feces of other animals to survive. It's a very hard thing to see,” said Jones.

Ria Brown, also with Lee County Animal Services, says she is seeing more animals coming from horrible living conditions.

“It's people that collect too many things - whether they're in good condition, bad condition, useful or not to the point it disrupts their whole life. Sometimes they actually collect animals,” she said. “I believe we've seen some of the most extreme cases that you could probably see anywhere in the country.”.." More & video

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Woman to serve probation time in animal hoarding case

By Alex Bridges

WINCHESTER -- A woman accused of hoarding 200 cats in her Frederick County trailer this spring tearfully pleaded guilty Tuesday to committing animal cruelty.

Linda Levea McLaughlin, 59, formerly of 211-37 Forest Lake Drive, Stephens City, appeared in Frederick County General District Court with her attorney, Paul Thomson, and she entered a guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.

The judge then sentenced McLaughlin in accordance with a plea agreement reached between Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ross Spicer and Thomson. Whitacre sentenced her to 360 days in jail and suspended the term in its entirety. The judge ordered her to serve three years of unsupervised probation and to pay court costs.

No fines were imposed with the sentence, nor did authorities ask the judge to order her pay restitution.

A special term of her probation forbids her from owning more than one cat or any other domesticated animal during that time, the judge explained to the defendant. In addition, McLaughlin must inform Deputy Meghan Moreland, an animal control officer with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, or her successor, of her place of residence during that time, according to the judge..." More

Oct 10, 2009: Woman will plead guilty in cat hoarding, cruelty case

Agreement allows McLaughlin to avoid jail after more than 200 felines were found in trailer

By Alex Bridges

WINCHESTER -- A woman accused of hoarding cats in her Frederick County trailer will plead guilty to committing animal cruelty, a law enforcement officer familiar with the case said Tuesday.

Linda Levea McLaughlin, 59, formerly of 211-37 Forest Lake Drive, Stephens City, was scheduled to appear in Frederick County General District Court on Tuesday for an adjudicatory hearing on one count of cruelty to animals.

Prior to the hearing, the commonwealth and her attorney, Paul Thomson, had reached an agreement that would allow McLaughlin to avoid jail time in exchange for her guilty plea to the class 1 misdemeanor charge.

Deputy Megan Moreland, an animal control officer for the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, had been one of several people subpoenaed to testify at the hearing. Outside the courtroom, Moreland explained that both sides had reached a plea agreement. McLaughlin would plead guilty to the single count she faced but under the agreement would serve no jail time, Moreland said. In addition, she would not be required to pay any fines that otherwise would have been ordered, she said.

But for the next three years, McLaughlin would not be allowed to own more than one cat, as a condition of her probation, Moreland said..." More

July 28, 2009: Woman in court of cruelty count

More than half of rescued cats have died since May 13 seizure by law enforcement

By Alex Bridges

WINCHESTER -- More than 120 of the nearly 200 cats rescued in Frederick County in May have since died, and the woman accused of hoarding the felines faces an animal cruelty charge.

Linda Levea McLaughlin, 58, of 211-37 Forest Lake Drive, Stephens City, appeared Monday before Judge David S. Whitacre in Frederick County General District Court. Authorities charged her with the class 1 misdemeanor offense of animal cruelty.

Frederick County deputies rescued 193 live cats and found several carcasses in an initial search on May 13. They trapped several more in the following days and took all the animals to the Esther Boyd Animal Shelter. County building inspectors also declared the trailer unfit for habitation.

"I've been homeless since all of this occurred," McLaughlin said through tears, adding she had not been back to the area until the hearing.

The defendant said she wanted the court to appoint an attorney to represent her. Whitacre set a preliminary hearing date in McLaughlin's case for Oct. 6..." More

L.A. County prosecutors to open 24-hour dog-fighting tip line and reward program

By Andrew Blankstein

Los Angeles County prosecutors are teaming up with the Humane Society of the United States to announce what they say is a first-of-its-kind dog-fighting tip line and reward program. [Updated 2:17 p.m.: An earlier version of this post gave an incorrect name for the Humane Society.]

The 24-hour tip line, staffed by people who speak English and Spanish, will allow county residents to anonymously report dog-fighting incidents and collect up to $5,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest or conviction.
The new tip-line number will be announced Tuesday at the office of L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley at the downtown Criminal Courts building.

Those who are convicted of illegal dog fighting, a felony under state law, can face a maximum prison sentence of three years, prosecutors said. Watching a fight or helping to prepare for such contests is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail.Dog fighting is widespread in Los Angeles County, according to authorities. In the United States, the American Humane Society estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dog-fighting circuits and more than 250,000 dogs are made to suffer in dog-fighting pits each year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

100 sled dogs rescued in Laurentians


The owner of 100 neglected sled dogs has turned the animals over to an emergency shelter because he could no longer care for them, officials with the SPCA Laurentides-Labelle and Humane Society International said Tuesday.

"The dogs were chained outside without regular access to adequate food, clean water or shelter," Nikolas Gour, a Humane Society International spokesman, said in a statement.

The dogs were being kept in a former home in an undisclosed town in the Upper Laurentians, about 35 kilometres north of Mont-Tremblant. They have now been transported to an emergency shelter in Val Morin, Que., and are being provided with veterinary care, officials said.

The owner agreed to give up the dogs after he was approached by the SPCA, which had received reports about the animals' poor living conditions. But officials said it took months to persuade him to hand the dogs over.

The living conditions could have gotten much worse because about 30 of the seized dogs were pregnant, said Corinne Gonzalez, executive director of the SPCA Laurentides-Labelle.

"Without our intervention, the owner could easily have found himself with 150 more puppies when winter is right around the corner," Gonzalez said.

"The puppies would be dead," Gour said." "First of all the mothers wouldn't have enough food to give proper milk. Also, the owner wasn't really taking care of them."

The owner of the dogs will not face charges, officials said..." More

Malnourished sled dogs rescued in rural Quebec & video

ALDF: Helping Horses Victimized by Animal Hoarding

by April Nockleby

While animal hoarding is usually presented in the context of cats and dogs, it is not uncommon for farm animals to be victimized by this type of abuse. Indeed, given the rural, often remote locations chosen by animal hoarders, and the added demands of large animal care requirements, discovery and intervention in these cases is all the more challenging for humane agents. Those who hoard horses often present themselves as “rescuers” who are nursing animals who reportedly came to them malnourished – this claim will often impede an investigation’s progress, at least temporarily. Though seemingly impossible given how limited their means usually appear, some hoarders are capable of relocating quickly to avoid law enforcement, moving themselves and their horses overnight.

How You Can Help
Write a letter to your local prosecutor, thanking them for taking animal cruelty seriously, and letting them know that you are a voting constituent who cares about and follows animal abuse prosecutions in your community. Animal hoarding cases present unique legal challenges – ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program works directly with investigators and prosecutors around the country, providing them with free legal expertise and resources.

Work with your state legislators toward a “First Strike and You’re Out” law. ALDF drafted this model law to address the issue of repeat offenders and the cruel and costly toll they take on their communities.

Recognize and report horse neglect in your community.
Donate your time and expertise to a
humane agency or equine rescue near you. Thank you for taking a stand against animal abuse in your community. Together, we are making this world a better place for animals!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Recovery from a life of hoarding is possible

Because that box is handy, you stack another one on top of it. The magazines land there, then the mail. Some letters spill to the floor, hidden by a shopping bag set down, just for the moment, because you had other things on your mind.

That bag ends up behind other bags. Every day, there’s mail. Fabric and patterns for a sewing project overwhelm the dining room table. You know this isn’t right, but where to start? Next weekend’s chores turn into next month’s, and then a year has passed. Floors and tabletops and shelves disappear beneath every good intention. What was once a cluttered nest has hatched into an overwhelming albatross. Yet you need these things, all of them — for your hobbies, for the dog, for the future.

That box is in here someplace..." More

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Missing Persons singer Dale Bozzio jailed

Bozzio, Dale.JPG.jpg

Ashley Rigazio

Missing Persons singer Dale Bozzio is sitting in an Ossipee, New Hampshire, jail today after dropping her appeal of a March animal cruelty conviction.

Thirteen animal cruelty charges stemmed from Bozzio's failed attempt to "save" feral and sick cats from the New Hampshire woods. Two cats were found dead and 12 were put down following an undeterminable period of neglect that came to a head while Bozzio toured last fall (our exclusive photos from the scene can be viewed here, but be forewarned - they aren't for the faint of heart or stomach). She was found guilty of one count of cruelty to animals.

In May, Bozzio was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 60 days deferred for two years, plus 250 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay a $2700 euthanization bill. That sentence has now been imposed.

After following the saga for nearly a year, I found Bozzio yesterday in a zen-like calm as she waited in the Carroll County District Court clerk's office with her husband Richard McKenzie and lawyer Dennis O'Connor. Known for her perky personality and happy-go-lucky songs like "Walkin' in L.A." and "Destination Unknown," the singer was friendly and positive that she would be just fine. She hugged me, blessing me and telling me "I respect you" before she voluntarily surrendered to the county jail..." More & slideshow