Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Matters: Not much can be done about complusive hoarding

By: Jim May

DEAR FAMILY: We just got home from visiting my aunt and uncle, who live in another city,and I need help to help them. I had not been to their home since I was a teenager and I was shocked. Words cannot describe the filth and clutter they live in. There were old newspaper, magazines, catalogues and what looked like mail stacked everywhere. They had a sort of walkway from the front door to the kitchen and the hallway. I didn't go down the hall but my husband said that the bedrooms were just as bad.

How can they live like that? I called my mother when we got home and asked her about it, and she said that (her sister) wasn't always like that. She always had saved things that they thought were a little strange but it has gotten way out of hand now. My mother said that she and my other uncle had tried to talk to her but it only upset my aunt. They gave up and no one goes to their house, much less eats there. She also said that their children had tried to talk to them and had given up, too. They are pretty well isolated from the family but do come to family gatherings and are active in their church...."

Nearly two dozen dogs seized from alleged puppy mill

Nearly two dozen dogs were seized from the home of a Hillsborough County woman who was been forbidden from owning animals earlier this year.

Officials said 20 poodles and one chow-chow were living in conditions they described as "deplorable." They found the dogs living in a small space in the Tampa home of Patricia Dickson, 73.

Investigators said the dogs were living in their own waste, and that they suffered from diseases that are caused by eating in the same place they defecate..." More

Hoarding increases fire-fatality risk - study


Hoarders may be more at risk of dying if a fire breaks out in their house, a study has found.

Paula Beever, director of Fire Risk Management for the New Zealand Fire Service, said hoarding was a growing problem, and typically involved elderly men.

A recent Australian study has looked at hoarding from a fire-risk perspective and examined 10 years of Melbourne fire data and identified 48 hoarding fire incidents.

These accounted for 0.25 per cent of all residential fires in that period but made up 24 per cent of preventable fire fatalities.

Fires in hoarders' premises used more firefighting resources than the average residential fires, Beever said.

"There are often narrow internal pathways and blocked exits which make it difficult for people to get out and also make it hard for firefighters to get in to rescue them and attack the fire."

One in four people killed in accidental house fires in Melbourne since 2000 had been a "compulsive hoarder", the study found.

Christchurch area commander Dan Coward said hoarding could be a factor in 50 to 100 house fires each year in Canterbury – about 2 per cent of house fires.

Hoarding was a factor in five out of 282 accidental house fire fatalities between July 1995 and December 2008, he said..." More

Over 50 animals removed from home in animal hoaridng incident

Several of the animals appeared unclean and malnourished, police said


A 33-year-old woman in Virginia has been charged with animal cruelty and being an unfit animal owner after police spent nearly 12 hours removing dirty and underfed animals from her home.

After neighbors' complaints of foul odors coming from Megan Barber's home in Mount Vernon, Fairfax County police officers got a search warrant and went in, protecting themselves with hazmat suits and self-contained breathing gear.

Over two dozen live cats, five dogs, a rabbit, three guinea pigs, a hamster and nine birds were removed from the home on Ramsgate Terrace, amidst cluttered conditions including animal feces and debris, police said.

They also took 28 dead animals out of the house.

According to county officials, the live animals' medical conditions ranged from poor to good, with most appearing unclean and malnourished.

Sources told News4 that Barber had come to the attention of police for a similar situation five years ago...." More

Dec 30, 2009: Over 50 animals removed from home in animal hoaridng incident

A woman has been charged with animal cruelty after police removed dozens of dead and living animals from her home Tuesday.

Police removed more than 50 animals - nearly half of them dead - from the home of 33-year-old Megan Barber on Ramsgate Terrace in Mount Vernon after neighbors called local authorities complaining about an odor coming from the house.

Twenty-eight dead animals were removed from the house. Over two dozen living cats, nine birds, five dogs, three guinea pigs, a hamster, and a rabbit were removed from a house police say was filled with debris, including animal feces.

Police say the conditions of the living animals ranged from poor to good, with most appearing unclean and malnourished. They were transported to local veterinarians after being removed from the home.

Barber will not be able to return to her home immediately as the house has been condemned..." More

Maury Swee: 10th Life Sanctuary, Florida

Dec 30, 2009: 10th Life Sanctuary closed for good

One of the largest cat rescues in United States history is now over.

Last month the NBC2 Investigators uncovered pictures of dead and nearly dead cats, some living in inhumane conditions at the 10th Life Sanctuary in Clewiston.

A week after our story aired, pet rescuers from across the state, including veterinarians from the University of Florida, descended on the so-called sanctuary.

Owner Maury Swee, who is now under investigation for animal cruelty, voluntarily surrendered the cats to the City of LaBelle's Animal Control, which has spent the last month placing them.

Out of the nearly 600 cats found on the property, 185 had to be euthanized because they were critically ill or too wild to be adopted; 410 found new homes..." More

Press release: click here

Dec 6, 2009: UF program helps relocate more than 450 cats

"This is one of the largest cat rescues that most of us know about, and probably in the top five nationally, as far as the number of cats that were relinquished and need care," said Dr. Julie Levy, head of Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the university.

Levy added that the situation "meets a lot of the criteria we would use to describe hoarding," including "having more animals than you can provide a humane level of care for."

Levy made an unannounced visit Nov. 16 to the 10th Life Sanctuary in Clewiston, along with other University of Florida experts and representatives from the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The team declared the sanctuary's conditions and the animals' care inadequate, forcing owner Maury Swee to relinquish all 540 felines in his care to the presiding animal control department.

While the team found, during its initial walk-through, 13 cats suffering and in need of urgent veterinary care, a closer examination found 93 cats too sick for care who were euthanized, Levy said.

Nov 26, 2009: Cat rescue underway at pet sanctuary

CLEWISTON: Animal rescue teams descended on a cat sanctuary in Hendry County. The NBC2 Investigators were the first to break the story of unsanitary living conditions at the 10th Life Sanctuary.

Rescue teams from around the state arrived at 7 a.m. Monday.

"The main reason they're here is to try and save them," said Doug Morgan, Director of Labelle's Department of Animal Control.

"This is a monumental task," acknowledged Dr. Julie Levy – one of 75 people on hand this week to help Morgan's effort to get the 600 cats off property.

"So we've been working through the weekend to pull the resources together," said John Haven who is leading the effort.

He's the director of the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine and the head of their disaster response team. Haven says during the next three days, they plan to administer physical examinations and blood tests to every one of the cats at 10th Life Sanctuary.

Animal Control officers say the property's owner, Maury Swee, is cooperating, but he would not allow NBC2 on property Monday while volunteers cleaned out pins and rounded up the cats..." More & video

Nov 18, 2009: Pet sanctuary under investigation More & video

Nov 10, 2009: Sanctuary's treatment of cats concerning expert More & video

Nov 9, 2009: Sanctuary for unwanted pets More & video

Samuel & Diane Walker: Pawsatrack Racing Sled Dogs, Colorado

Dec 30, 2009: Kennel owners released on bail in cruelty case

By Howard Pankratz

Samuel and Diane Walker, owners of the Pawsatrak Racing Sled Dog Kennel near Hartsel, turned themselves in Christmas Day in connection with allegations of animal cruelty.

An arrest warrant was issued for the couple Dec. 23. After their arrest at the Park County Jail in Fairplay, they posted $2,000 bail and were released.

Their next court appearance is 9 a.m. Jan. 4.

The couple have been charged with two counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals and 30 counts of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor..." More

Dec 28, 2009: Couple Surrenders In Sled Dog Abuse Case

The couple who owned more than 100 sled dogs seized after they were reportedly found starving in "deplorable conditions" has turned themselves in to face animal cruelty charges, officials said Monday.

Samuel and Diane Walker turned themselves in at the Park County Jail on Christmas Day, according to the Park County Sheriff's Office. They were released after both posted $2,000 in bail.

The Walkers were charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, and 30 counts of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, officials said..." More

Dec 18, 2009:Starving Huskies Seized In Massive Park County Rescue Operation

About 100 Huskies, raised for sled racing but found starving and living in what has been described as "deplorable conditions," were rescued Thursday as part of a two-day around-the-clock operation.

Park County sheriff's investigators and representatives of the state veterinarian's office seized the dogs from a rural mountain property off County Road 53, south of Hartsel.

The sickest dogs were seized Wednesday and investigators returned Thursday to seize the remainder of the animals, said Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore.

As many as 90 Husky and Husky-mix dogs were underweight and not properly fed, Gore said. Eight of the dogs had died..." More

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Animal Rescue

By D'Lyn Ford

Animal Hoarding Increasing

"...“Puppy mill operations have been around for years, but animal hoarding seems to be on the increase in North Carolina,” Ferris says. “My colleagues nationally report that it’s increasing as well.”

Sometimes, investigations involve a breeding operation. That was what Ferris encountered in her first case in 1982 for the American Spaniel Club. When a member died, 80 dogs were found on her property. “All you would see were the beautiful dogs at the show, but here were 60 dogs matted to the skin in a hay barn with no running water.”

Ferris has seen a hoarder whose house was overflowing with black cats as well as a hoarder who had animals ranging from pocket pets to livestock.

“The advent of no-kill sheltering gives someone who is hoarding animals a way to try to gain respectability,” Ferris says. “Instead of being ‘the crazy cat lady,’ someone can position themselves as a shelter with a Web page and nonprofit status.”

However, many hoarders with large numbers of animals live in conditions that are unsafe for humans and animals. In the course of investigations, Ferris has endured ammonia fumes from decaying animal waste piled on the floor. She documents the conditions of both animals and their living spaces, using clinical terms and descriptions that she can use in court.

Ferris recalls a conversation with a man accused of animal hoarding who had recently moved to North Carolina. “He suggested that people were unfriendly to him because he was a Yankee,” Ferris recalls. “I said to him, ‘Maybe it’s not that people don’t like you because you’re a Yankee. Maybe it’s that you’re covered in urine and feces.’”

“He said to me, ‘Your reality is different from my reality but that doesn’t make it wrong.’ I said, ‘Well, it makes it illegal.’”

All but the most severe animal cruelty cases are misdemeanors. Jail time is typically suspended unless there’s another offense. Some counties have stricter penalties than the state, but animal advocates are trying to change that..." More

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Childhood Anxiety and Depression

By: Dr Wagner is the Marie B. Gale Centennial Professor and vice chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

For both depression and anxiety disorders in youths, there is increasing evidence of clinical benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Anxiety disorders

Both SSRIs and CBT individually have been shown to be effective in the treatment of children with anxiety disorders. A recent large randomized controlled trial examined the combined efficacy of these treatments in 488 children and adolescents (aged 7 to 17 years) who had anxiety disorder (separation anxiety disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder).1...More

SPCA finds animal remains from rituals in house on N. Front St.

By ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH / Photo: Alejandro A. Alvarez

SPCA officials got more than they bargained for yesterday when they checked out a house on North Front Street following a report of a dog living in unsanitary conditions.

Inside, they found a grisly animal graveyard with the remains of dozens of creatures that had been sacrificed in religious rituals.

The discovery unfolded about 4 p.m. at a house on Front Street near Louden.
"The whole house was covered in feathers from chickens that had been sacrificed," said George Bengal, director of law enforcement of the Pennsyvlania SPCA.

There were also skeletons of what were possibly other farm animals, and what appeared to be skeletons of dogs, cats and possibly primates.

"They have to be forensically examined before we get a positive [identification]," he said.
"The place was bizarre," Bengal said. A blood-spattered altar had also been set up in the house, and candles were still burning, with music playing, when investigators arrived, he said..."

"...There is no law against sacrificing animals for religious purposes, as long as it is done humanely, Bengal said. "There are a lot of religions out there that still do animal sacrifices," he said.

However, given the conditions of the two dogs that were found alive, whoever was involved with the sacrifices would be charged with animal cruelty and keeping animals in unsanitary conditions, according to Bengal.

Sacrificing domestic animals - dogs and cats - is expressly forbidden under the law, Bengal said.

Authorities believe they are seeking more than one suspect in the case.

Most of the remains were farm animals, he said. However, investigators also found skeletons they could not immediately identify, but believed were primate skeletons, he said..." More

Monday, December 28, 2009

Animal abuser in trouble again

A woman convicted of abusing animals at her Sterling Heights kennel in 2008 faces a probation violation hearing for keeping two pets and an unregistered handgun in her Sanilac County home.

Lorri Nichiow-Brubaker, 50, appeared in front of a Macomb County judge twice in October and again last week, and is scheduled to face a Jan. 21 hearing. She was released on a $10,000 personal bond and was referred for a mental competency evaluation.

Nichiow-Brubaker's Lornich Kennels was raided in April 2008, and police found ill-treated animals, mostly dogs. She was ordered in July 2008 to serve five years probation and pay $17,500 in restitution after she pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, the second time she been convicted of the charge.

Probation conditions prevent her from living with or caring for animals, and Judge David Viviano said at the time he would sentence her to jail time if she violated probation conditions and if he saw her "handling animals improperly."..."

New Homes Sought For Seized Animals

Bedford County Pets Taken From Home In November

The Bedford County Animal Control is looking for new homes for dozens of pets.

Authorities last month rescued more than 40 neglected birds, cats and dogs from a Unionville home.

All but two of the animals are available for adoption online, according to the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.

Caretakers said it has been difficult to find new homes for the rescued dogs, which includes 12 coon dogs.

"Just call the shelter. We'll be more than happy to set up a time when people can visit with them, spend some time with them. Even if you can't take one home, it's a good thing to get them out of the shelter, out of the cage and take them for a walk," said Michael Gregory of the Bedford County Animal Control.

It costs $65 to adopt an animal, but the adoptee gets $50 back when the animal is spayed or neutered.

Visit the Bedford County Animal Control's Petfinder Page to learn how to adopt the animals..." More & video

Leeanna Kamp & Christopher Ellis: Yorkie Angel / California Pets & Supplies, Solano, CA

Dec 22, 2009: Number of seized Solano County puppies close to 100

The number of sick or mistreated puppies seized in a pet store raid last week has risen to almost 100, and complaints are flooding in statewide from customers who purchased dogs from the store owners' online business.

The owners, a Dixon couple arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty last week after more than 90 expensive purebred puppies were confiscated from their pet shop and home, pleaded not guilty Monday in Solano County Superior Court...." More

Dec 18, 2009: Complaints Pour In After Dixon Pet Store Raided

Today, there is more fallout from Thursday's raid of a Dixon pet store. The owners are now in jail, and accused of selling sick puppies and running an online dog lottery. The SPCA says all of the animals seized in Thursday's raid in Dixon are sick with various diseases. They're all quarantined and under lock and key for fear someone might steal them. Also, all of the canines are considered evidence in a criminal case involving hundreds of dogs and families that feel cheated.

"She showed me six pictures and I picked her out, and this is a year later so I never forget a face," says Escobedo. April Escobedo has never forgotten the face of Leanna Ellis. Ellis is the woman that sold Esocobedo a Tea Cup Yorkie back in August of 2008 for $1200. But four days later, the puppy named Nitro, was dead. "It started falling over, it didn't want to eat so we knew something was wrong with it, I took it to the vet," says Escobedo. .." More & video

Dec, 18, 2009: Solano County pet shop owners arrested, puppies seized

By Kimberly K. Fu

A Dixon couple was arrested Thursday on charges of animal abuse as authorities shut down their pet shop and seized more than 80 pure bred puppies that may be sick.

Christopher John Derek Ellis, reportedly a Canadian citizen, and his wife, Leeanna Rachelle Kamp, were booked into Solano County Jail on suspicion of numerous charges, including two counts of animal cruelty and illegally operating an online lottery.

Ellis is currently on probation for a Sacramento felony. Both are being held on $50,000 bail, with arraignments scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday in Solano County Superior Court in Fairfield.

Their store, California Pets & Supplies has been at its current site in Dixon for a month and they also run an online business,, selling pricey dogs such as Yorkshire terriers, Shih Tzus, Shiba Inus and Maltese for between $900 and upwards of $2,500..." More

Sunday, December 27, 2009

FYI: On-Line Course: Animals and the Law: Custody, Disasters, Estates and Litigation

Registration is now open for the online course: Animals and the Law: Custody, Disasters, Estates and Litigation given by Lawyers In Defense of Animals, Inc.(LIDA) in collaboration with Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA). This course explores custody cases both in non-disaster and post-disaster context, pet trusts, police shootings, suits by and against rescue groups, litigation brought by and against animal control and much more. It is taught by the trustees of LIDA and relies heavily of materials drawn from LIDA cases. One of three courses offered in the Animals, Community and the Law Certificate program, this course may be taken for three graduate credits in the SPAA masters program and for non-credit. For graduate credit information please contact Dean Kirchhoff at or 973-353-1351. To learn more or to enroll for non-credit please go to

For content information, please contact Isabelle Strauss, Esq. at or 732-255-4696. The course starts January 26, 2010. Please register early to ensure enrollment.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Timothy Otto: Clair-Mel City, Florida

Nearly 70 dogs were seized from a breeder in Clair-Mel City on Monday, according to Hillsborough County Animal Services.

This isn't the first time so many dogs have been seized from the home.

Monday's incident began about 8 p.m., when deputies responded to a report of possible stolen property at 1219 S. 66th St. Timothy Otto told deputies he didn't have the stolen property and invited them to look around, animal services spokeswoman Marti Ryan said.

Deputies saw several breeds of dogs, including poodles and Chihuahuas, living in deplorable conditions, Ryan said. Investigators seized 67 animals. Many of the dogs were pregnant and nursing, and some gave birth Tuesday.

Otto, 40, will face several counts of felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty, Ryan said.

In May 2007, investigators seized at least 70 dogs from Otto's parents, Martin and Alma, after finding Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Boston and Yorkshire terriers, poodles, bulldogs and pit bulls at the property, Ryan said at the time. They also found cats and miniature horses.

But the Ottos were not charged because there was no evidence of "intentional, malicious neglect."

Most of the dogs seized this week are being transferred to The Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Poodle and Pooch Rescue and CARES Animal Rescue.

Roughly a dozen dogs will be available for adoption next week. For information, call (813) 744-5660 or go" More

Evanston fire: Hoarding is blamed in fire death

An 82-year-old man died in an Evanston house fire Tuesday morning surrounded by stacks of old magazines, newspapers, household goods and other hoarded items, officials said.

Evanston fire investigators say the cause of the blaze was accidental and may have been electrical. It began in the utility room next to the kitchen on the west side of the home in the 2100 block of Cleveland Street, officials said.

Authorities said the man killed in the blaze lived alone, and he may have been trapped in the one-story ranch-style home by a clutter of items.

"It was a hoarding situation," said Division Chief Tom Janetske. "There were some things dated from many years ago. There was a lot of debris around the house making it difficult to walk."..." More

It's the end of the line for greyhound racing in Massachusetts

Dec 26, 2009: It's the end of the line for greyhound racing in Massachusetts

The greyhounds will bolt from the gate for the last time in Massachusetts today, marking the end of 75 years of live dog racing in the state.

Voters last year elected by a wide margin, 56 percent to 44 percent, to ban the sport effective Jan. 1, 2010. Wonderland held its last race in September. Raynham Park stages its final race tonight. Both will continue to offer simulcasting - enabling patrons to wager on televised dog and horse races conducted elsewhere - at least through July 31, as a result of recently enacted legislation.

The end of racing here is part of a national trend, driven by a mix of animal-rights concerns, waning attendance at dog tracks, and new statutes enacted by legislatures and voters..." More

Dec 15, 2009: It's the end of the line for greyhound racing in Massachusetts

RAYNHAM, Mass. — Mike Sergio and his buddies Bob Foley and Jimmy Gorham have been going to the greyhound race track here for decades. Now retired, they come a couple of times a week and not just to gamble.

"It's kind of a social thing with us," Sergio says. "We shoot the breeze, we throw money in and bet, we eat, then we divide up whatever money is left."

"When we have money left to divide up," Foley interjects with a laugh. "It's entertainment," he adds, his voice trailing off slightly.

Greyhound racing has been a form of entertainment in Massachusetts for 75 years but not for much longer. The last card at
Raynham Park is expected to be Dec. 26, and the state's other dog track, Wonderland in Revere, stopped racing earlier in the fall.

It may, in fact, be the last time greyhounds run anywhere in New England.

Activists who alleged mistreatment of dogs led an effort that resulted in
Massachusetts voters banning dog racing beginning Jan. 1, 2010. Vermont and Maine also have outlawed racing. Twin River, Rhode Island's only dog track, is seeking to end racing as part of bankruptcy reorganization. New Hampshire's two tracks ended live racing earlier this year for financial reasons, and Connecticut's last greyhound track closed in 2006..." More

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Cost of Hoarding

Published by Linda Watkins

In the last year it seems that not a month has gone by without news of the seizure of a triple-digit number of dogs somewhere in the U.S. Numbers range from a mere 100 (most of which are pregnant females), to five or six hundred (most of which are pregnant females). Rarely are any of these critters spayed or neutered, most are disease-ridden, severely underweight, and poorly socialized — that is to say, they are used to other dogs, but not real comfortable with humans other than knowing they may sporadically get food from them.

What I’m also noticing is the increasing frequency with which these seizures are accompanied by child welfare complaints. We seem to keep ignoring that animal abuse and neglect are closely linked to child abuse and neglect — most family law judges and attorneys acknowledge this link; it’s been proven time and again in academic and clinical studies, and yet as a matter of practice our law makers persist in their passive denial of the link between the two behaviors.

Laws regarding animal neglect and abuse are the equivalent of a slap on the hand at best — even the sentence for Michael Vick whose dog fighting “business” was one of the more horrific examples of animal abuse that we’ve seen in this country but which has been treated by most people as a minor indiscretion; an instance of poor judgment — has been viewed by many as over-kill.

There are a couple of issues with animal hoarding that most of us don’t consider: First of course is the attitude the hoarders/abusers have towards any living things. If they can so willfully abuse a dog, (or a horse or a cat, etc.) what does that say about their ability to value any life? These are people who barely provide adequate shelter, food, and water to the living creatures under their control and power. These same people, if they have children often treat them the same way — they have no respect or consideration for those who are dependent on them for safety and sustenance. So, if their children grow to adulthood, what are they going to be like? As for their animals, if they survive long enough to go into other homes, what will they be like?..." More