Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lee County task force on hoarding forms

By Rachel Revehl

Hundreds of felines prowled inside and around the Lehigh Acres home where the body of Gary Schultz, 59, lay for a month before discovery.

No foul play was suspected, but Schultz’s wife and mother fled the state, abandoning him amid the scores of cats and heaps of rotting trash, according to Lee County Domestic Animal Services, who responded earlier this month.

The cats were starving, and chief animal control officer Adam Leath realized the family had suffered from a problem he’s become all too familiar with in recent years — hoarding.

Animals aren’t always involved, but their presence is often a catalyst for outside intervention.

“I think in the past people saw it as these people just loved animals too much,” Leath said. “But I think there’s a greater understanding now that this isn’t love. This is a mental illness.”

And that’s why he has organized the Lee County Hoarding Task Force, a gathering of experts from a range of fields, including human services, law enforcement, mental health, aging, code enforcement and animal services..." More

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