Animal hoarding is described as a mental illness. Estimates from Tufts University show that up to a quarter million animals a year are victims.
"Unfortunately animals become part of the things these people collect," explained Adam Leath of Lee County Animal Services.
Never before seen pictures [slideshow below] show you how the animals, and their owners, were living.
"You can see there are numerous bags of feces that were pretty much put into any small hole or crevice within the property," Leath pointed out.
The pictures taken in each house show virtually the same thing - overflowing garbage and animal waste. As animals multiply the houses tumble into disrepair.
Video shows a home on Sanibel Island that had to be demolished.
"Once it permeates the drywall, past the sheet rock into the studs, it's really not able to be saved," said Leath.
To keep things from getting bad again Lee County Animal Control monitors former hoarders. We went along with them.
At one home, Leath notices food bowls on the driveway. "I do think that there were cats. I could smell some cats and there's some food bowls and water bowls inside the driveway."
While the homeowner tells Leath everything is fine, this is a home he'll check again.
The next stop is to Bob Tracey's home. He faces four felony counts for animal cruelty.
"When we went there in 2008 we removed 37 animals। In 2009 we removed 17," Leath told us..." More