Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Some articles call them hoarders, others call them packrats. These stories seem extreme and isolated. But according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System, hoarding presents a real danger, not only for those who do it but also for their neighbors -- creating fire hazards, as well as unsanitary, unsafe conditions. In addition, hoarders face the real prospect of becoming buried under an avalanche of trash. Researchers note that treating hoarding is difficult because people who suffer from it don't see it as a problem. According to the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation (OCF), an estimated 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the United States are believed to have compulsive hoarding syndrome, a sub-condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The OCF defines hoarding as "the acquisition of, and inability to discard, worthless items even though they appear (to others) to have no value ... [Hoarders] have symptoms of indecisiveness, procrastination, and avoidance ..."
In the gallery below, Jeff Szymanski, Ph.D., executive director of the OCF, explains the differences between packrats and obsessive hoarders and just why someone may become a hoarder. Plus, read an excerpt that details how hoarding has affected two people first-hand -- and their families..." More
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The unthinkable conditions will send Charles Sharp to jail. Investigators say the animals they pulled from the Fort Myers Shores home in August were emaciated, dirty, and covered in ticks and fleas.
When Lee County Animal Service raided the home, Sharp – who lived there – said he wasn't responsible.
"My roommate lost his foot. He brought in all the dogs," Sharp said.
Adam Leath, with Lee County Animal Services, says that roommate, Bob Tracy, is a known animal hoarder. It was the second time they had confiscated animals from the address.
But when they made this raid, Tracy was hospitalized. Investigators said he had to have his foot amputated after the fifth that the pair was living in infected it.
"You can imagine walking around on that, having an open wound, so it was a sore on his foot that didn't heal," said Leath.
Since the animals were in Sharp's care, he was charged. Now there's a plea agreement on the table, which the State Attorney's Office can't discuss details of.
But Animal Services says it involves jail time and probation. Sharp will also be prohibited him from any contact with animals.
The home has since been condemned..." More & video
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
Monday, February 22, 2010
Animal control officers and members of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were called to a house in Woonsocket on Monday to seize cats living inside.
Animal control officers said they believe the woman who owns the home had been hoarding them.
“Once they come here, she befriends them and she takes them in,“ said Dr. E.J. Finocchio, of the Rhode Island SPCA.
But instead of helping animals, experts said hoarders are doing the opposite.
Cat food, cat hair and cat feces were visible on the floors of the home..." More
A HOARDING homeowner has won a legal victory overturning a council order demanding he tidy up piles of rubbish from his Surrey garden.
Robert Wallace said he stored items to sort through them at a later date and could not understand why people got “on their high horse about it”.
He will now be paid £250 of taxpayers' money by Mole Valley District Council, in court costs.
The 59-year-old retired television engineer was served a notice under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act by the council in May, Guildford Crown Court heard last Monday (February 15).
He was ordered to remove the plastic bottles, tins, newspapers and other waste, cut back overgrown vegetation and leave the land clear and tidy at his Westcott homes, numbers 4 and 8 Furlong Road.
But he appealed against the decision, at first unsuccessfully at magistrates’ court, and then at the higher court.
He told the judge he was tempted to bring the items into court to show how inoffensive they were.
“If you go into a supermarket people don’t find them offensive,” he said.
“If they are not offensive when they are full, why are they so offensive when they are empty? What is offensive about them?”
Mr Wallace explained the reasons he kept the items.
“The original idea is for them to be re-sorted and categorised because there are some items I want to retain,” he said.
“In the meantime I don’t see why I shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate without people trying to get on their high horse about it.”
Robert Primrose, senior planning enforcement officer at Mole Valley District Council, said: “It became apparent the two properties were in a state of disrepair...." More
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Local animal control agencies are working together to care for 30 dogs rescued last week from a hoarding situation in a small Greene County trailer.
More than a dozen of the dogs were transported Wednesday to the Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township to be put up for adoption.
The trailer had no heat or electricity because of the snowstorm and one of the residents had become ill and needed to be hospitalized, said Jane Gapen, executive director of the Humane Society of Greene County.
The Humane Society rescued more than 20 dogs six months ago from the same trailer in Rutan, about half an hour from Waynesburg, Ms. Gapen said.
"We thought we had helped them and things were going to be OK," she said.
The resident of the trailer called the Humane Society last Thursday and asked that the dogs be rescued.
The dogs were fed, but have experienced psychological damage, Ms. Gapen said. "They were living in a pack where dogs were killing each other and they're frightened," she said. "We walked into some sadness."..." More
Feb 17, 2010: Animal control director says Saginaw woman did her best to care for the nearly 50 cats removed from her condemned homeBy: Gus Burns
Feb 16, 2010: Saginaw code enforcers remove 45 cats from Saginaw home
By Gus Burns
Saturday, February 20, 2010
By Robert Forto, PhD
On the latest edition of The DogDoctor Radio Show (http://tinyurl.com/dogdoc) I interview Debbie Jacobs, the author of “A Guide to Living & Working With Fearful Dogs”. Jacobs’s book was a finalist in the 2008 Dog Writers Association of America’s annual writing competition. Her work with fearful dogs is dedicated to he rescued friend, Sunny. Sunny was rescued from Arkansas from an animal hoarder.
“Sunny survived a hoarding situation and was brought to one of the hurricane rescue camps in 2005, where I met him. Over the years I have learned about rehabbing a ‘damaged’ dog and wanted to share that information with other scared/fearful/shy dog owners. Working with a scared dog will be one of the most challenging, frustrating and rewarding experiences a dog owner will ever have.” stated Jacobs.
In Sunny’s case he was rescued from a so-called “sanctuary” where a couple had over 300 dogs in squalid conditions, with all the animals brought there under the guise to “save them.”
Animal hoarding is one of America’s hidden nightmares. A typical hoarder suffers from a mental condition in which they fulfill a need to obtain and “collect” animals, often in deplorable conditions. If you have seen the shows on cable television on A&E and Animal Planet’s Animal Cops series you know what I am talking about.
On the show we talk about what is necessary to help these people suffering from this condition. While neither Jacobs or I are therapists we are often the ones that see animal hoarding situations first hand. I speak about three times when I am confronted with animal hoarding in my daily work as a canine behaviorist with Denver Dog Works and Jacobs re-tells the shocking story of Sunny’s life before he was rescued by Jacobs..." More
Friday, February 19, 2010
RESCUE HOARDING: A HORROR CLOSE TO HOME
In February of 2009, police stormed a former elementary school in Columbia, Kentucky, as a result of complaints from neighbors. They found 362 live animals - dogs, cats, horses, chickens, goats, pigs, and a donkey - and several dead. The man who lived there ran an organization called Clean Slate Animal Rescue, and he insisted that the animals were well cared for and he was doing what he could to save them from certain death at the hands of what are known as high-kill (high rates of euthanasia) shelters in the area.
I was co-founder of Clean Slate Animal Rescue, working with this man - Dave - on his farm in Estacada, Oregon. The first time I visited his house, there were stacks of filthy crates out front and piles of soiled dog and cat blankets covering every available surface out back. A mound of fresh dog feces was on the floor in the entryway; the two pieces of furniture he had - matching lounge chairs - were torn to pieces. Dave and I talked. His rescue partner had bailed on him; he was in over his head. He was intelligent, well-spoken, attractive. Funny and passionate, warm and engaging..." More
Celeste Killeen, co-author of Inside Animal Hoarding: The Case of Barbara Erickson and Her 552 Dogs.
"...Celeste Killeen, co-author of Inside Animal Hoarding: The Case of Barbara Erickson and Her 552 Dogs. In the book, Killeen provides an unprecedented look inside the mind of an animal hoarder, by establishing a dialogue with Erickson through a series of interviews over several months. Killeen took time out of her schedule to speak with me about her insights regarding Barbara Erickson, her own views on animal hoarding, and how writing the book has affected her own perspective on pets and people. Following is the complete transcript of my interview...." More
Thursday, February 18, 2010
"If I was outside walking the dogs and I ran across something that someone threw away, like a vase or a winter coat, I'd pick them up and bring them home," she said.
Shelby collected so many things that the clutter began to take over her life.
She says it began in 2003 when she became disabled and lost her job. With her then-husband already unemployed, the couple could no longer keep up with the mortgage and lost their home.
"That's when the hoarding started," she said. "I really became afraid and I was scared that we would end up on the streets."
Shelby blames her ex-husband for a large amount of the clutter, but admits she played a role too, like the time when she developed a habit of collecting "thousands" of rocks..." More
The work group is recommending that this be included in DSM-5 but is still examining the evidence as to whether inclusion is merited in the main manual or in an Appendix for Further Research.
-Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with personal possessions, even those of apparently useless or limited value, due to strong urges to save items, distress, and/or indecision associated with discarding.
-The symptoms result in the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter the active living areas of the home, workplace, or other personal surroundings (e.g., office, vehicle, yard) and prevent normal use of the space. If all living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of others’ efforts (e.g., family members, authorities) to keep these areas free of possessions.
-The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).
-The hoarding symptoms are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease).
-The hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., hoarding due to obsessions in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, lack of motivation in Major Depressive Disorder, delusions in Schizophrenia or another Psychotic Disorder, cognitive deficits in Dementia, restricted interests in Autistic Disorder, food storing in Prader-Willi Syndrome).
With Excessive Acquisition: If symptoms are accompanied by excessive collecting or buying or stealing of items that are not needed or for which there is no available space.
Specify whether hoarding beliefs and behaviors are currently characterized by:
Good or fair insight: Recognizes that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are problematic।
Poor insight: Mostly convinced that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are not problematic despite evidence to the contrary।
Delusional: Completely convinced that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are not problematic despite evidence to the contrary..." Link
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
By Angela Hill
Clara's apartment was always a little cluttered, but manageable, with things that were special to her: a collection of rocks and crystals, hundreds of vintage ashtrays from San Francisco restaurants, dozens of dragon figurines in honor of her Chinese zodiac sign. There was a time when she took pleasure in dusting these items, rearranging them, adding to her treasures, enjoying them with friends who came to visit.
Gradually, sometime during the past 25 years or so, these special things got lost. They're still in there somewhere, in the one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco's Cow Hollow neighborhood Clara shares with her longtime partner. But now, the friendly, articulate 69-year-old retired bank employee who usually ends each conversation with a perky "Toodles!" can no longer see her treasures for the mountains of junk — sheer Everests of books and boxes and papers and bags, clothing and cookware, old VCRs, computer parts and just plain stuff...." More
By Meghan Housley
The Etobicoke Humane Society rescued 28 cats from the “worst conditions” one volunteer had ever seen on the weekend.
“I couldn’t last more than 10 minutes without my throat and chest hurting, it was so bad in there. Nothing should live in that house,’’ said the Humane Society's Jerry Higgins, who investigated a cat hoarding on Saturday in central Etobicoke.
Mr. Higgins said he found garbage and cockroaches everywhere, feces, urine and a strong smell of ammonia in the house, in the Kipling and Eglinton area.
Toronto Animal Services had been investigating for a year after numerous complaints regarding the smell, but had been unsuccessful in entering the house, inhabitated by a woman and her adult daughter, but Mr. Higgins said he was able to get through to one of the women on the phone.
After convincing them he was acting in the animals’ best interests, the women surrendered all 28 cats willfully..." More
Posted By JOANNE RICHARD
Hoarding horrors abound. Some hoard human waste -- yes, feces! Others amass newspapers, food, junk, mementos and/or valuable items. Some hoard animals; others money.
Things provide comfort -- no matter the discomfort and chaos the collecting causes. The overwhelming need to acquire gets out of control, to the point of even endangering lives.
"The amount of stuff is like a weight on them physically and mentally -- houses are so overfilled that they lose all freedom, they become disengaged in life," says Ottawa-based hoarding specialist Elaine Birchall.
Hoarders waste away in all the waste, possessions, accumulation -- "yet they don't see it, it's their normal."
Birchall recalls "a case where 112 animals lived in a 25 by 20 foot trailer with a hoarder." Human and animal suffering was evident. "The non-caged animals 'owned' her bed which was in the living room because all of the other spaces were lined with animal cages."
Although totally devoted to her pets, "the mental and physical needs of the animals were not being met. Her ability to maintain control of the situation was perilous mentally, physically and financially," adds Birchall, of hoarding.ca.
Overwhelming clutter makes for chaotic living conditions for compulsive collectors, impairing daily activity, physical and mental health, relationships and living conditions...." More
Monday, February 15, 2010
New York Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner has now introduced an amended version of A9449 still called Oreo's Law after the dog euthanized by the ASPCA last November. After months of care and evaluation, the dog was determined to be "unpredictably aggressive," biting even caregivers.
The senate version is S6412 sponsored by state Senator Thomas K. Duane. The bill, A9449/S6412, would amend the Agriculture and Markets Law, Section 374 by adding a new subdivision 9, that would require public shelters to release animals to any "nonprofit, as defined in section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code, animal rescue or adoption organization" that requests possession of them. The facility holding the animal would still collect the required spay/neuter deposit and could also assess a fee not to exceed the standard adoption fee....
...The bill, however, does not require the non-profit to meet any criteria to establish they are "responsible" or "reputable" organizations.
A 501(c)(3) status is simply an IRS designation meaning it is tax-exempt and donations are generally tax deductible. It has nothing to do with the quality of the operation and care provided.
This bill ties the hands of shelters to keep animals from known abusers or institutional hoarders that may not have been convicted of particular "statutes" or are not currently facing charges, or those rescues that cannot provide adequate shelter, food, water, veterinary care, and socialization or training, if required, and safe handling.
It would be easy, for example, for the hoarder or abuser to take the title of "manager" and not an officer or Board position and thus a public shelter would still be required to give animals to the organization. Imagine if the organization has employees who are felons or who have been convicted, cited or investigated for animal cruelty! Animal control would still be required to turn over animals to the organization on demand.
Also, it is not clear why the proposed amendment would be limited to "statutes" instead of all animal protection and animal fighting laws including ordinances and regulations.
It is notoriously difficult to obtain citations or charges, let alone prosecutions and convictions for animal cruelty, animal fighting and animal protection laws. It is also difficult for an animal control agency to find out about such charges or convictions that have occurred in other states or even other counties. In some cases animals may be seized and impounded because of cruelty or neglect but charges never pursued. In other cases charges may not be filed in return for transfer of ownership of the animals or permission to keep the animals on the property while they are given care and placed for adoption.
In the FLOCK case, for example, charges of animal cruelty were not filed for nearly a year after the animals were seized. Under Kellner's bill, public shelters would have been required to continue to release animals to that organization until charges were filed! There are a number of circumstances under which an organization may be a hoarder or operate a seriously substandard facility but not face charges or have a conviction...." More
Six of those pets had microchips implanted, so once investigators heard the beep they contacted the original owners.
“Not only in two of these cases did it reunite two animals back to their starting point but it also gave us some background as to how these defendants got these animals,” said Tompkins County SPCA Director Abigail Smith
Those tiny clues can go a long way in such a large investigation..." More
Courtney Cotter and Kevin Pierce, both of 18 Creamery Road in Brooktondale, were charged Wednesday in Town of Caroline Court.
They are facing 39 counts of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals.
And 39 additional counts of failure to provide proper sustenance, food, and water.
The Tompkins County SPCA seized the dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rats and chinchillas on January 27th, after concerned citizens led them to the trailer.
Rescuing the animals has cost the Tompkins County SPCA more than $30,000.
The SPCA is asking for financial donations to help cover the increase medical and staffing expenses.
So far, seven cats, one rat, eleven dogs and three chinchillas have been adopted.
Feb 3, 2010: SPCA SEIZES 100 PETS
"...After a group of concerned citizens led humane investigators to a mobile home in Brooktondale.
"The conditions inside were obviously pretty far from ideal there were some sanitary concerns, there were also concerned for animals not having access to food and water," said SPCA Humane Investigator Cate Walker.
That's where these cocker spaniels, and 98 other pets were found, in a crowded, one-bedroom trailer.
Including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats and several other dead animals.
The owner was a self-proclaimed animal rescuer...." More
Dear Readers Without OCD,
On behalf of the OCD community, I'd--
Yikes! I can only imagine how pretentious that must sound. Who am I to speakon behalf of the OCD community? It's not as if we're some organized group (though I suppose many of us, ourselves, are extremely organized) or that we require membership in some exclusive club (imagine the Purell involved in that secret handshake!). That said, if you'll indulge me, I will, in fact, attempt to speak here on behalf of the vast majority of OCD sufferers that I've had the opportunity to meet in my outreach travels. I've come to find that we, collectively, have a gentle reminder we'd like to pass along, ever so respectfully:
"OCD" is not an adjective; and more to the point, it is not a synonym for fastidious or anal-retentive.
Perhaps you've noticed this growing misuse. Maybe you, yourself, are even guilty of an occasional infraction. (It's okay; we forgive you.) I'm talking about comments such as this: "My boyfriend is so OCD about keeping his apartment clean." Or this: "Ever since starting high school, I've become so OCD about doing my homework." I overhear someone saying something like this at least once or twice a week. And if you think I'm overstating the trend, try this little experiment: type the words "so OCD" into a Google or Twitter search box and tally up the results. (Just don't spend too much time doing this, lest some misguided observer accuses you of being so OCD about research.)..." More