Monday, March 29, 2010

Hoarders growing in prevalence


A Palm Bay man arrested after police found 100 dead snakes in his home does not fit the profile of the typical pet hoarder.

Barry Walter, 43, faces 122 counts of animal cruelty, charges stemming from when a cleaning crew stumbled upon plastic storage containers of abandoned snakes in addition to extensive collections of comic books, Star Wars memorabilia and GI Joe action figures.

Such stories are becoming more common, and animal hoarding is -- for the first time -- being extensively studied by those in the medical field..."

Not Rare

Brevard County Animal Services Officer Brian Figueroa said pet hoarding is more prevalent than people think.

"You never know what someone has in their house," Figueroa said. "It's very common and unfortunate that people don't understand the reality of it. They (hoarders) feel as if they have to have these things. Mentally, they need it, no matter how ridiculous it may seem."

Figueroa said the 17 rescued snakes are in good hands, though he is not certain what their outcomes will be.

"They are with an expert snake handler, and he will foster them, taking care of them for us. He is evaluating them and letting us know what the situation is," Figueroa said.

The fact that Walter is male and was hoarding reptiles makes him different from the typical animal stasher. According to research by Tufts University, 76 percent of pet hoarders are women, usually single, divorced or widowed and living alone -- except for the numerous animals, typically cats...."

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