Thursday, April 29, 2010

The OCD Project challenges six severe OCD sufferers to face fears in a bold move to better their lives

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain where people experience obsessive thoughts, images, ideas or impulses – and they can't get past them. The day-to-day existence for severe OCD sufferers is dire. Untreated, they lead lives of self-punishment, fear and isolation that can result in job loss, broken families, bankruptcy and in some cases death.

"The OCD Project" challenges six severe OCD sufferers to face their fears in a bold move to better their lives by participating in twenty-one days of all-immersive therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention. World-renowned anxiety specialist Dr. David Tolin facilitates this proven treatment that encourages patients to face their worst fears in an attempt to stop the vicious cycle of the disease in eight, hour-long episodes. "The OCD Project" is set to premiere Thursday, May 27th at 10PM. To get a preview of the upcoming season, watch "The OCD Project" trailer on ..." More

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Animals officers say 100 small animals seized

Riverside County animal control officers say about 50 birds, 50 rodents and one gecko were collected from the small apartment of a man who died earlier this week.

The apartment in Hemet was only 400-square feet. Animal Services Sgt. Lesley Huennekens says it resembled one giant bird cage with feathers and seed everywhere.

The animals were taken Wednesday to the Ramona Humane Society in San Jacinto.

Authorities say they believe the man was breeding the animals for sale. His name was not immediately released, but authorities say he apparently had a stroke in a stairwell near his apartment.

Most of the birds were parakeets and doves. There was one finch. The rodents were mostly hamsters and mice..." More

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mammal Model Suggests Single Gene Linked to OCD

By Rick Nauert PhD

Researchers have discovered that mice missing a single gene developed repetitive obsessive-compulsive-like behaviors.

The genetically altered mice, which behaved much like people with a certain type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), could help scientists design new therapies for this debilitating condition.

The researchers made the accidental discovery while looking at the role of a gene, called Slitrk5, which they had earlier linked to blood stem cells and vascular cells.." More

Monday, April 26, 2010

Digging out


Brenden McDaniel, owner of Action Organizing Services in Cedarburg, does not judge. He knows that for some people, a compulsion to accumulate possessions gets way out of hand.

McDaniel knows this because his mother was a hoarder. She had a lot of physical problems, he explains, and she was not a hoarder as he was growing up. But there was always a room where the family tended to toss things to be sorted out later. "After I grew up, it just aggregated," McDaniel says.

As his mother’s physical and emotional state deteriorated, so did the condition of her house. Dirty dishes and garbage piled up and items purchased during shopping binges clogged the rooms. Rodents moved in.

McDaniel was able to clean up his mother’s house and, today, years after she took her own life, he remembers how difficult it was for his mom to try to change her hoarding behaviors.

McDaniel became a professional organizer certified by the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, one of only two certified in the state.

Acute hoarders, he says, usually fit into a typical pattern:

• The "I can use it someday" hoarder, who is unwilling to part with anything that might be useful at some point.

• The inherited situation. The hoarder inherits a houseful of belongings and feels it is disrespectful to get rid of any of the items.

• Animal hoarding. McDaniel says anyone who has an animal but can’t take proper care of it falls into this category. "It could be just one, but sometimes it’s 40 to 50 cats," he says. "A lot of times they’re filling in for the love they’re not getting."

• The self-protection hoarder. These are often middle-aged to elderly women who have been widowed or divorced, or have survived a major illness, or abuse. "They think, ‘If I live like this, nobody will get me,’" McDaniel says. "It’s like they’re in a great big tunnel and they can’t get themselves out."

Some hoarders have actually been killed when piles of their things have fallen on them, McDaniel says. Others finally agree to clean up the mess when they’re facing eviction. Whenever possible, McDaniel works slowly, often over a period of weeks or months, to gain the hoarder’s trust and bring them to a point where they can let go of their stuff. "You need to be respectful and patient," he says. "It’s really rewarding when you get people who just want to hug you a lot because you’ve made their life better or prevented them from getting evicted."..." More

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sheila Marie Savage / Robert Landreth - Rush Kennell, Landreth No. Carolina

Apr 26, 2010: Judge: Kennel Owner Must Pay for Care of Seized Dogs

The owner and a dog caretaker at a Pleasant Garden kennel was ordered to pay over $50,000 to help pay for the care of 98 dogs seized three weeks ago during an investigation.

Judge Angela Foster ruled that Sheila Marie Savage, who owns Rush Ken
nels, must pay the $50,400.90 bond to help cover the costs of 30 days of care for the dogs. Savage and Robert Landreth, who worked as a dog caretaker there, were charged with seven felony counts of animal abuse and five misdemeanor counts of animal abuse earlier this month..." More & video

Dec 2009: Sheila Rush & family on ABC "Wife Swap"

Additional information on Rush Kennels and North Carolina Puppy Mills on Facebook

Apr 10, 2010: Kennel owner in Guilford charged with animal cruelty

The owner of a Pleasant Garden kennel and an employee have been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty following the seizure of 97 dogs from the business earlier this week.

Sheila Marie Savage, 53, the owner of Rush Kennel, and Robert Landreth, 61, a caretaker, were charged Friday with seven counts of felony animal cruelty and five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, The News & Record of Greensboro reported.

Late Friday, Landreth was released on a $5,000 bond; Savage posted a $10,000 bond and was released.

Authorities have said more charges are possible as an investigation continues.

"She is resolved to see this through. I feel my client will be vindicated," said Kent Lively, Savage's attorney, as the woman was booked into jail Friday afternoon. "I think she has taken good care of her animals as entrusted to the care of Rush Kennel."

The case comes after a four-month investigation at the facility. It started with a letter from a Pennsylvania couple to the Guilford County Sheriff's Office, according to a search warrant..." More

Apr 8, 2010: 98 Dogs Seized from Pleasant Garden Kennel

Sheriff's deputies along with animal officials removed 98 dogs from a Pleasant Garden kennel Wednesday after an investigation revealed numerous health problems with animals purchased from the breeder.

According to Sheriff BJ Barnes, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office, animal shelter and animal control had received multiple complaints from people who had purchased dogs from Rush Kennels, located at 6324 Maplewood St.

The complainants said their animals were diagnosed with multiple health problems that, in many cases, resulted in death.

The sheriff's office conducted an undercover investigation into the kennel, purchasing a dog that was then found to have a life-threatening disease and a birth defect, the sheriff's office said. The dog later died of what are believed to be the same diseases and infections others had complained of. Sheriff Barnes says many of the dogs had hook worms, mange and other health problems from neglect and mistreatment.

"There were some that had been over utilized as breeders and actually had parts of their internal organs that were hanging out." Barnes said...

...The owner of Rush Kennels, Sheila Rush, and a dog caretaker, Robert Landreth, have not yet been charged because the sheriff's office is still gathering evidence, but they say animal cruelty and fraud charges are likely..." More & video

Friday, April 23, 2010

Animal Hoarding

By Sharon H.

Sensational stories ripple through the news of homes filled with an untold number of cats or dogs. These stories wrench our hearts with visions of dead animals, filthy homes, and a person who desperately loves each animal living in the abode. What is wrong with this picture?

Hoarders collect animals much like other individuals collect glass figurines, pretty plates or baseball caps. It's often based on intense love for a species that eventually spirals out of control. Hoarding includes both animals and things (newspapers, books, clothes or just plain stuff). Birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, pigs, horses, cows: any type of animal can be hoarded for the wrong reasons.

Hoarding is a growing concern in the fight to prevent animal cruelty and the burgeoning pet population. Rescue organizations across the country assist animal shelters in the placement of adoptive animals. Animal shelters place thousands of animals each year into new, loving homes. These efforts can be thwarted by the rampant reproduction of hoarded animals in a home.

Hoarding Truths

Very rarely does a hoarder have the financial ability, time and knowledge to provide adequate care for a large number of animals. Vet care is often non-existent. Hoarded animals often live with incredible filth as well as dead, dying and ill animals as close neighbors in a confined environment.

Between 700 and 2,000 hoarding cases are reported each year in the United States. Sixty percent of these cases involve repeat offenses. The Humane Society of the United States recognizes that hoarders have almost a 100 percent chance of a repeat offense.

A multi-pronged effort to remove animals and provide proper rehabilitative care for the hoarder provides the best chance to limit future incidences. Many states have laws to deal directly with animal hoarders. Hoarders can be anyone including professionals, vets, rescue families, the elderly or the next door neighbor.

Benevolence vs. Hoarding

A few markers indicate a propensity to hoard animals. Hoarders may be lonely due to the loss of a family member or may suffer depression. Financial or job changes often cause individual struggles. We all know the comfort that a beloved animal brings to a two-legged pet parent. Other individuals simply collect animals in a desperate attempt to assuage an inner need. And the animals suffer terribly.

Benevolence often finds a pet lover in too deep with four-legged friends. That's a considerably different situation than hoarding. A person in this situation finds suitable homes for the animals while recognizing that the expense, time and maintenance of so many animals didn't work for either party. A hoarder doesn't acknowledge the inability to care for the vast number of animals in a home...." More

Understanding extreme hoarding

Mark Edwards

"A person simply is hardwired that way and are born with the pre-disposition to have hoarding."

Jerry Fried has been working with hoarding disorder patients for more than 20-years, and says in this community, thousands are affected. but far less by what was discovered yesterday.

"It's about just 26 people of the population of Knoxville have severe hoarding."

But what makes people want to hoard...Especially animals?

Fried said "They tend to have great and strong beliefs, that they might be put to sleep. If not for me they...God gave me these animals to take care of and just really extreme kinds of beliefs."..." More & video

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chesterfield confronts psychological disorder of hoarding

By Sunni Blevins

A Council on Aging program in Chesterfield County this morning focused on helping hoarders. Hoarding is a psychological disorder from which more than 3 million Americans suffer.

Matt Paxton of the A&E television program "Hoarders" spoke about how it affects people and their families.

Cabell Hatchett with Clutter Cleaner says, "it's a major, almost epidemic, it's a problem."

You've seen it on TV, but might be surprised to learn hoarding is happening in your community.

Hatchett says, "people are clinging on to certain parts of their lives, and their stuff is their life."..." More & video

Dozens of animals seized from Kaufman County property


Acting on anonymous complaints, the SPCA of Texas seized 39 cats, six horses, three dogs and two squirrels being kept as pets from a property near Mabank Thursday afternoon.

The SPCA said the cats were confined to a small room covered in feces and urine; the horses were kept in filthy stalls.

For the property owner, watching her animals being taken away was devastating.

"This is a situation of cruel confinement," said SPCA spokeswoman Maura Davies. "The animals seem to have food, water, and shelter, but there are about 30 cats being held in a 10 foot by 10 foot room; they're locked in — they have no way of escaping."

Investigators said the animal waste material in the residence sent ammonia levels "off the charts.".." More & video

Cops Seize More Than 200 Animals From Home


Police have seized more than 220 animals from a home in Colchester.

They went to the home at 300 Lake Hayward Road Tuesday, and found the animals in deplorable conditions, police said.

In all, officers seized two dogs, 13 rabbits, 180 pigeons, three ducks and 30 chickens from the home.

The homeowner, Czeslaw Maselek, 52, was arrested on an outstanding warrant charging him with animal cruelty..." More

Dozens of animals seized from home

By: Dan Gouthro

A Newport woman is being investigated after dozens of animals were found inside her Kay Street home during a small fire.

The animals were discovered on Tuesday after firefighters responded to the home.

39 cats, one dog and one snake were removed by the Newport Animal Control, the Newport Police Department and even the Hazmat Team.

However, crews have since captured six more cats also found at the home. Additional traps have been set because animal control officers believe there are even more animals they simply have not found..." More

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things


Working with a patient he calls Debra, a compulsive hoarder, the psychologist Randy O. Frost tried a simple experiment. Frost proposed sending Debra a postcard, blank but for the name and address. Debra’s assignment was to throw it away.

Days later, Debra complained that she had not had enough time with the card. She described the stamp and the postmark. When she finally let go, she pictured the card’s position in the trash. Later, she confessed she had cheated by writing down everything about the card she could remember and then saving the notes.

In “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things,” Frost, a professor at Smith College, and Gail Steketee, a professor and dean of the school of social work at Boston University, invite us graciously into territory that might otherwise make us squirm. They have spent nearly 20 years working with hoarders, sometimes in settings where tunnels lead through trash and roaches roam freely. Frost and Steketee introduce collectors who acquire through shopping, Dumpster diving and stealing. The resulting assemblages encompass broken machines and living things (cats and dogs, mostly).

People justify hoarding as curating and recycling, deeming odd objects beautiful and useful. Sometimes they act as if history were at stake. Andy Warhol, “straddling the border between eccentricity and pathology,” the authors write, would periodically sweep everything — cash, artwork, apple cores — off his desk and into a cardboard box. He stored hundreds of these “time capsules.”..." More

Released: April 2010

By: Prof. Randy Frost Ph.D. (Author), Prof. Gail Steketee Ph.D. (Author)

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that’s ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house? Or Jerry and Alvin, wealthy twin bachelors who filled up matching luxury apartments with countless pieces of fine art, not even leaving themselves room to sleep?

Randy Frost and Gail Steketee were the first to study hoarding when they began their work a decade ago; they expected to find a few sufferers but ended up treating hundreds of patients and fielding thousands of calls from the families of others. Now they explore the compulsion through a series of compelling case studies in the vein of Oliver Sacks.With vivid portraits that show us the traits by which you can identify a hoarder—piles on sofas and beds that make the furniture useless, houses that can be navigated only by following small paths called goat trails, vast piles of paper that the hoarders “churn” but never discard, even collections of animals and garbage—Frost and Steketee explain the causes and outline the often ineffective treatments for the disorder.They also illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Whether we’re savers, collectors, or compulsive cleaners, none of us is free of the impulses that drive hoarders to the extremes in which they live.

For the six million sufferers, their relatives and friends, and all the rest of us with complicated relationships to our things, Stuff answers the question of what happens when our stuff starts to own us.

Pre-order via Amazon

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When does your child really need medication?

By Candy Lashkari

A frightening number of parents are over-medicating their young children today. Many parents are considering medication for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and for those children showing signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Journalist Louis Theroux is taking a television viewers on an investigative journey through children who are under medication to modify their behavior.

Considering that all children tend to be somewhat competitive and self obsessed, where does one draw the line? Is medication that is going to curb and alter a child’s normal and natural reaction to situations just so that he can fit in better in to societal norms really worth giving the child? Or would it be better to allow the child to grow up showing his natural attitude and learning to deal with it when he gets social criticism...." More

Task forces offer help to hoarders

by Nathan Carrick
Dr. Elspeth Bell has traversed canyons created by shoulder-high piles of everything — from newspapers and magazines to bags of clothing and garbage.

These narrow walkways — "goat paths" to Bell — aren't found in alleyways or warehouses, but in the homes of compulsive hoarders Bell tries to help. And the canyons can be found right here in Gaithersburg.

Hoarders accumulate vast quantities of possessions, but are unable to throw any of it away, experts say. Local officials say increased news media attention nationwide has brought to light more cases of hoarding in Montgomery County.

Two task forces, one in Gaithersburg and the other in the county's Department of Health and Human Services, have formed in the past year to help hoarders, as well as their families and friends.

Bell is a member of both task forces.

The county task force, formed about four months ago, also includes Bonnie Klem, supervisor of Adult Protective Services for the county's HHS; Uma S. Ahluwaliacode, director of HHS; and representatives from code enforcement and police..." More

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Carol Murphy, Maine

Apr 20, 2010: Murphy to serve 4 years in prison for assault on officer, animal cruelty

By Betty Jespersen

Carol Murphy was sentenced Thursday in Franklin County Superior Court to four years in prison for assaulting an officer and animal cruelty. She was also ordered to serve 30 days for contempt of court after she repeatedly disrupted her trial on Wednesday and called the judge a vulgar name.

Because of her persistent and defiant resistance to court decisions and authority, Murphy’s sentence did not include a period of probation, according to Justice Michaela Murphy.

Carol Murphy, 65, of New Sharon, will spend the next four years at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, according to the Franklin County Detention Center.

“It is crystal clear to the court that she would not follow any directive from a probation officer and there was zero chance she would abide by any court order,” Justice Murphy said of her decision to not grant probation.

Murphy was found guilty in a one day jury trial Wednesday of assaulting an officer, a felony; resisting arrest; illegal use of an electronic weapon; and two counts of animal cruelty..." More

Mar 4, 2010: New Sharon Woman Found Guilty

A jury in Franklin County has found a woman from New Sharon guilty of animal cruelty and assaulting an officer with a stun gun.

Sixty-five-year-old Carol Murphy was being investigated on a complaint that she was hoarding animals at her home.

A year later she was found guilty of animal cruelty.

After that, Murphy was under a court order barring her from keeping animals.

In October 2009, a state trooper showed up at Murphy's home to see if she was sticking to the rules.

Court documents say she used a stun gun on him.

Murphy represented herself in court, berating the judge and calling the proceeding a "kangaroo court.".." More

Dec 29, 2009: Animals seized from home now in state's hands


More than 40 animals seized in October from the New Sharon home of Carol Murphy were awarded to the state after a civil hearing Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court.

"The court finds these animals were cruelly treated by Ms. Murphy," Justice Michaela Murphy said. "All were subject to conditions not humane or clean."

The judge's ruling clears the way for the animals to be adopted or sold.

Justice Murphy also agreed to the state's request for a lien on Carol Murphy's property, to pay for the cost of transportation and animal care.

"Hopefully we'll find adoptive homes for all of them," Norma Worley, director of the state's Animal Welfare Program, said after the hearing. "People in Maine are very generous when it comes to cruelty cases."

Carol Murphy, 65, faces three criminal counts of cruelty to animals and one criminal count each of assault on an officer, refusing to submit to arrest and criminal use of electronic weapons. She is accused of using a stun gun on a state trooper when he attempted to arrest her.

She has pleaded not guilty to those charges and to a separate charge of contempt of a court order for allegedly violating a lifetime ban on having animals as part of a judgment in an animal cruelty case in 2005.

Carol Murphy, who represented herself, arrived in handcuffs for Monday's hearing before Justice Michaela Murphy. A deputy removed the handcuffs, but the defendant remained in leg shackles for the hearing.

Murphy, 65, of 248 Lane Road, has been held since her arrest at the Franklin County jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail...." More

Oct 25, 2009: Seized animals found in Murphy's house, barn, yard

By Donna M. Perr

NEW SHARON — State animal welfare agents seized about 40 animals found mostly in the kitchen and living room at a New Sharon woman's residence on Oct. 15, according to an inventory list filed with the state's search warrant.

Carol Murphy, 65, was prohibited by the state from having animals, after a Franklin County jury found her guilty of cruelty to animals and possessing animals without a permit in 2005. The state seized nearly 70 animals from Murphy's 248 Lane Road property in that case.

Murphy was arrested Oct. 15, after a state police trooper presented her with a warrant charging unpaid fines/fees in connection with the 2005 case. Police say she used a stun gun to shock him. Trooper Aaron Turcotte was also following up on a complaint from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in regards to Murphy.

Murphy was charged in connection with the police incident and pleaded not guilty Oct. 16 to those charges, which included assault on an officer.

She remains at Somerset County Jail in Madison until she posts $10,000 cash bail or $100,000 worth of real estate. Murphy has the right to ask for her bail to be reduced.

There have been no criminal charges filed in connection with possessing the animals found Oct. 15.

Animals seized were eight cats and five dogs found in cages or loose in the house; a potbellied pig in a cage in the kitchen, and three turkey pullets and a guinea hen pullet in the kitchen, according to the inventory list. Three rabbits were in cages in the kitchen area, five birds, cockatiels, cockatoos and Amazon parrot-type, were found in cages in the kitchen and living room. Two chinchillas were found in cages in the living room..." More

Oct 17, 2009 Woman convicted of animal cruelty uses stun gun on trooper

Police say a 65-year-old New Sharon woman assaulted a state trooper with a 975,000-volt stun gun during an investigation into possible animal hoarding at her house on Lane Road.

Carol Murphy pleaded not guilty in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday to assault on an officer, criminal threatening, refusing to submit to arrest and criminal use of an electronic weapon. She was being held at the Franklin County jail on $10,000 cash bail or $100,000 worth of real estate.

State Animal Welfare Program staff and Maine State Police seized at least 40 domestic and farm critters, including a donkey, two alpacas and a pot-bellied pig, at Murphy's house on Thursday.

"We found a lot of animals," Animal Welfare Director Norma Worley said. "Forty at minimal; maybe more."..." More

Vet Rescues Animals

Author: D'Lyn Ford

Animal control officers in Wilson County saw signs of problems in a dog breeder’s backyard: dozens of thin animals with matted fur.

On their next visit, they brought a sworn animal cruelty investigator: Dr. Kelli Ferris, an NC State veterinarian who’s worked on 15 major puppy mill and animal hoarding cases in North Carolina, some involving hundreds of animals. On this property, Ferris counted a total of 235 dogs of a wide range of breeds, from boxers and German shepherds to Chihuahuas and Scottish terriers. In examining the animals, she saw signs of fire ant bites, flea and tick infestations, intestinal parasites and dental decay so severe it had eroded the jawbones of some dogs. Mother dogs were in poor body condition, and all of the puppies were underweight for their ages.

Based on the findings that day, the owner agreed to transfer the dogs to approved rescue groups during the following week. Meanwhile, Ferris helped pull together a rescue team that included veterinarians, trained volunteers and several dozen veterinary students who had just started their fall semester classes at NC State. They organized an emergency shelter at the county fairgrounds, the only space large enough to house so many animals....

...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..." More

Monday, April 19, 2010

Officials say animal hoarding, neglect are major problems

By Tom Moor

During a recent raid of an Elkhart County home, authorities seized 50 cats, many suffering from various respiratory illnesses.

The cost to medicate the cats was $1,300, and many of them had to be put down anyway because of how sick they were.

Hoarding cases such as this are all too common in this area, officials say.

Elkhart County generally has two hoarding calls a month, said Anne Reel, director of the Humane Society of Elkhart County.

The problem, Reel said, is that hoarders themselves generally are caring people who actually believe they’re doing what’s best for the animals.

“Hoarding itself is a mental issue,” she said. “People who are hoarders are thinking they’re doing something to help the animals. But they get so caught up in collecting them, they disregard the health of them.”

Hoarding was one of the issues highlighted by local Humane Society officials recently while speaking about Animal Cruelty Awareness Month, which is being observed this month..." More

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Causes of Hoarding

By: Randy Frost, PhD / Gail Steketee, Phd

Welcome to the IOCDF Hoarding Center

Hoarding has been a hidden disorder for many years. Before the early 1990’s, there was little research on hoarding. Since then, however, interest has increased dramatically among research scientists and clinicians. Recent media coverage of hoarding has also increase awareness and interest among sufferers, family members, and human service personnel who often deal with the problem. The IOCDF Hoarding Center is designed to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information about hoarding and its treatment. The Center has four goals:
  • Educate the general public about hoarding.
  • Facilitate education and training of human service personnel including mental health, social services, public health and housing as well as police and fire officials.
  • Support research into the causes of and effective treatments for hoarding.
  • Improve access to resources for those with hoarding disorder and their families, as well as clinicians and service personnel.
  • Advocate and lobby for public policy change as it affects people who hoard, their families and community members...." More

Shelter Sense / Animal Sheltering Magazine: How to Handle a Hoarder

Handling Animal Collectors, Part 1: Interventions That Work

This article is the first in a two-part series on handling animal collector cases. It first appeared in the May-June 1994 issue of Shelter Sense, published by The Humane Society of the United States.

The scene is a familiar one to virtually every humane agency in the country: A dilapidated house, or perhaps a trailer or even an old school bus, with the smell of urine noticeable from outside...a dark interior, with animals scurrying about, and an overpowering stench that immediately makes the eyes sting and the lungs lock up...tens or even hundreds of animals, usually cats and dogs but sometimes other animals, some in cages or makeshift pens, others given free reign of the place...animals in various stages of neglect, often diseased and emaciated, with afflictions ranging from fleas and ear mites to mange and respiratory infections...feces everywhere, competing for space with open food cans and other trash strewn across urine-soaked floors...almost always, some horrifying characteristic that sets it apart from other cases, such as maggots crawling in animal corpses or dead cats used as bedding...and, finally, the animals' "keeper," an individual who has lost control of the situation, lives in constant denial, and is clearly "addicted to animals," but who doesn't seem to fit any single psychological profile...." More

Handling Animal Collectors, Part 2: Managing a Large-scale Rescue Operation

This article is the second in a two-part series on handling animal collector cases from the July 1994 issue of Shelter Sense, published by The Humane Society of the United States.

When officers for the Brazos Animal Shelter and Humane Society/SPCA (P.O. Box 4191, Bryan, TX 77805) first received complaints about a large number of animals being kept in poor conditions last summer, they weren't entirely prepared for what would come next. Soon, however, those officers and a slew of people assisting them were hard at work rescuing 438 animals confined in filth by their keeper.

Dogs and cats seemingly did not appeal to this animal collector. Instead, his menagerie included 117 rats, 57 gerbils, 49 mice, 39 chickens, 23 hamsters, 17 squirrels, 9 opposums, a European hedgehog, and more than 100 birds ranging from finches to small quail. By the time the shelter had wrapped up the case, it had received assistance from nearby humane societies, several exotic-animal veterinarians, the local game warden and health department inspector, city attorneys, a U.S. Army Medical Center, the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center, Ryder Truck Rental, numerous other agencies and businesses, and a host of volunteers...." More

41 Dogs Removed From West Tulsa Home

by: Frank Wiley

Control was lost years ago. The end result was dozens of dogs rescued, but afraid for their lives, they've never been away from their owners. Clearly, that's what caused the problem.
The couple started with two dogs, that was five years ago. Many were not spayed or neutered, and 41 dogs later the couple had a house full. The owners were on a first name basis with each of them.

“As he brought each one out, he told us a little bit about that dog and their personalities," said Robin Pressnall, with Small Paws Rescue..." More & video

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sad plight of hoarders no longer hidden

Every now and then, a sad story comes along of a reclusive old person found living -- or not -- in unspeakable squalor.

There's the usual intervention by social services and animal welfare, and a public outcry about how such a thing could happen. And then it fades away until next time.

But the phenomenon known as Diogenes Syndrome (DS) is coming out of hiding through the attention of such television shows as Hoarders, How Clean Is Your House? and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

And increased incidences of the baffling condition -- characterized by appalling living conditions, personal neglect, hoarding and reclusiveness -- has resulted in the establishment of more identification and treatment programs, such as Hamilton's Gatekeepers. The program has been overwhelmed with clients since it was developed five years ago by Catholic Family Services to intervene in suspected cases of Diogenes..." More

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hoarding Task Force Begins Work

By Bob Grotenhuis / Melanie Olivas

There are people who are pack rats and then there are those who are much worse.

Several local agencies are joining forces now to combat hoarding.

Trash, piles of junk and rodents. The pictures speak volumes. They are just one example of a potentially deadly problem known as hoarding...

"This where she goes to the bathroom in these buckets...urine and feces."

Thanks to shows like A&E's "Hoarder", hoarding's gotten national exposure. Locally, the problem is also getting more attention. Last week, El Paso's newly-formed Hoarding Task Force held its first meeting...

"Hoarding is a major issue in our community. It's probably an underlying problem a lot of people don't report, that's why we decided we needed to have a task forced effectively address the situation."..." More & video

Apple Valley's largest cat seizure in the past decade

Officials worked for several hours to remove 67 cats from an Apple Valley home Friday morning in what town officials called the largest seizure in the last decade.

Animal Service officers were serving an abatement warrant with the help of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Apple Valley deputies at a home in the 13000 block of Pauhaska Road near Central when they discovered the large number of cats.

The home was covered in cat feces and the animals were running throughout the home, according to witnesses. The smell was evident from the edge of the woman’s property.

Authorities worked for five hours capturing the cats, authorities said.

Most of the animals were dehydrated, malnourished, infected with feline respiratory illnesses and feral. One cat attacked and scratched a deputy..." More

Scores of Animals Seized from Home in Mayfair

Jim Melwert

Dozens of cats have been taken from a home in the Mayfair section of the city. Sixty cats and one medium-sized dog lived in the house in the 4500 block of Teesdale Street, according to PSPCA director of law enforcement, George Bengal:

"It was really bad inside, very strong smell of urine and feces. There was urine and feces everywhere in the property."

The two women who live in the house will face several charges, including unsanitary confinement and lack of medical care:

"These people think they're doing a good service. They start out with a few animals and then the population just explodes."..." More

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Collecting Animals


“Providing care is a pretext. The animals give them a sense of omnipotence, literally a power over life and death. This is not about caring for the animals… it’s about a human need [filled] through the animals.” (Dr. Gary Patronek, leading expert on animal hoarding)

In my last post, I referred to Virginia Robinson as a hoarder. A cursory reflection on that word implies benign or, at the very least, innocuous intentions. But like rampaging cancer cells that ravage a body, animal hoarding consumes the hoarder and, more importantly, destroys the hoarded. In a word, stockpiling animals like so many Precious Moments figurines creates a malignancy that should command more attention than a dismissive shake of the head at the crazy cat lady..." More

Kenneth Lang Jr., Dearborn, Michigan - 150 Living & Dead Chihuahuas

Apr 15, 2010:
Dearborn Dog House Being Demolished


It was a stunning scene, hundreds of dogs both alive and dead found inside a Dearborn home last summer. The smell from the house tipped off police to the nightmare inside -- 150 dead chihuahuas stored in freezers and over 100 alive, but in need of help. Now, this house of horrors is being destroyed.

Demolition on the Dearborn dog house started early Thursday morning. The good news is that all the chihuahuas that were rescued are healthy and living in loving homes.

Little chihuahuas were frightened, living in filth and eating their own feces. Authorities in full Hazmat suits rounded them up and herded them to safety. 105 of them ended up at the Dearborn animal shelter..." More & video

Jan 12, 2009: Dearborn dog hoarder pleads guilty

By: Steve Pardo

The Dearborn man found with hundreds of live and dead Chihuahuas in his home last summer will avoid jail and instead serve five years' probation while being supervised by Wayne County mental health personnel.

Kenneth Lang, 56, pleaded guilty today to an animal cruelty charge this morning in front of Wayne County Circuit Judge James Chylinski. Lang's attorney, James Schmier, had been working with prosecutors for weeks on an agreement that would keep Lang from being incarcerated. He faced up to four years in prison on animal cruelty charges.

Lang is not allowed to own animals and must make a $3,000 restitution to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the city of Dearborn, although that amount hasn't been set..." More

Dec 25, 2009: Arraignment of man in Chihuahua hoarding case adjourned to Jan. 12

By Sean Delaney

DEARBORN -- The arraignment of former Dearborn resident Kenneth Lang Jr. was adjourned Friday in Wayne County Circuit Court until Jan. 12.

Lang, 56, is accused of keeping more than 250 animals inside his former home on Orchard Street.

Authorities discovered in July that Lang was hoarding the dogs, mostly Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes. They say some of the dead dogs found in freezers in the home may have been killed with an injection to the heart or partially eaten by other dogs.

Lang was evaluated for mental competency and criminal responsibility during an Oct. 5 hearing at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry. He was found competent, his attorney, James Schmier, said.

The Dearborn resident is charged with two counts of cruelty to 10 or more animals — one count related to the living dogs and the second for the dead dogs. He waived his right to a preliminary examination earlier this month in 19th District Court...."

Dec 3, 2009: Rescued Dearborn Chihuahuas bring holiday cheer

Dearborn -- Two of about 100 Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes taken in by a Detroit-area animal shelter this summer following a hoarding case are getting some big exposure this holiday season.

The dogs, named Poco and Amigo, appear on the front of greeting cards being sold by the group Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter. Another set of cards being sold to help the shelter features a black cat.

Cards are being sold online for $10 for a package of 10, plus shipping. They're also for sale at the Dearborn Animal Shelter..." More

Dec 1, 2009: Chihuahua hoarder back in court Friday

By Sean Delaney

DEARBORN — Kenneth Lang Jr. will return to court Friday to face to two counts of animal cruelty after undergoing a court-ordered mental competency evaluation in October.

The evaluation was ordered Sept. 11 by 19th District Judge William Hultgren after authorities found more than 100 live dogs and 150 dead ones inside Lang’s Orchard Street home.

Authorities discovered in July that Lang was hoarding the dogs, mostly Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes. They say some of the dead dogs found in freezers in the home may have been killed with an injection to the heart or partially eaten by other dogs..." More

Sept 3, 2009: Canine “CSI” Crucial in Charging Chihuahua Hoarder

Animal Legal Defense Fund Grant Allows for Necropsies of Chihuahuas Found in Michigan Man’s Freezer

Dearborn, Mich.– Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced today that Dearborn dog hoarder Kenneth Lang Jr is being charged with two counts of cruelty to 10 or more animals, after more than 100 live and approximately 150 dead Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes were removed from the filthy home this past July. The national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund provided a grant of $3500 to allow the Dearborn Police Department to conduct necropsies on 10 of the Chihuahuas whose bodies were removed from freezers on 56-year-old Lang’s property. ALDF offers grants for necropsies, DNA testing, and other forensic support nationwide to ensure that local law enforcement is able to collect the necessary evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in cases of criminal animal abuse.

Once relegated only to primetime dramas, sophisticated forensic techniques are increasingly being used to help prosecutors put together airtight cases against animal abusers. However, because such tests can be prohibitively expensive, abusers often walk free—even when the appearance of guilt seems obvious. Meanwhile, former prosecutors who now staff ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program train law enforcement around the country in animal abuse crime scene investigation, the use of cell phone data and fingerprint analysis in abuse cases, and in handling costly hoarding cases like the Lang case. In addition to the horrific animal cruelty involved, hoarding creates such highly unsanitary conditions that the properties of hoarders, contaminated with fecal matter and urine, are often condemned. In this case, Dearborn paid more than $37,000 to clean up Lang’s home, which has been deemed unfit for human habitation and might be demolished.

“Establishing cause of death is key in any fatal animal cruelty case,” says Scott Heiser, director of ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program. “We are more than happy to help the Dearborn Police Department with this critical part of their casework, as they seek justice for the hundreds of Chihuahuas who suffered so much—and the suffering of dogs who die of starvation and untreated disease in hoarding cases is truly horrific. By providing direct funding for forensic investigation of crimes against animals, we hope to ensure that attorneys have the evidence they need to put abusers in jail—while the surviving victims are allowed to heal from their trauma.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit" More

Sept 11, 2009: Chihuahua hoarder to have mental exam

A judge this morning granted a mental competency evaluation for a man charged with hoarding Chihuahuas in a Dearborn home.

During a hearing this morning, Dearborn's 19th Circuit Court Judge William Hultgren allowed a psychiatric evaluation for Kenneth Lang Jr., 56.

Lang had lived in a filthy home on Orchard in Dearborn until authorities searched the house in July and found hundreds of live and dead Chihuahuas. Prosecutors said some appeared to have died from injections to their hearts and others were cannibalized.

Lang remains free on $25,000 bond on the condition he have no contact with animals. He remained silent in court today and tried to shield himself from media cameras during the proceedings.

His lawyer, James Schmier of Birmingham, said Lang has a long history of mental illness and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and is bothered by the attention the case has attracted..." More

Sept 4, 2009: More details emerge in case of Dearborn man who hoarded hundreds of living, dead dogs

by Jonathan Oosting

Kenneth Lang Jr. faces two charges of animal cruelty after police in July found more than 100 living chihuahuas and 150 dead dogs in his Dearborn home.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges yesterday, providing additional details of the shocking conditions:

• Some dogs were kept in tupperware-type containers without food or water.

• Some of the dead dogs appeared to have been euthanized via an injection to the heart

• Many of the living dogs were emaciated from poor nutrition

• The last known veterinary check for any of the dogs was 2003

Despite the alleged conditions, attorney James Schmier told Fox 2 his client cared deeply for the dogs..." More

August 27, 2009: Video & photo's

By: David Runk; Photo: Paul Sancya

DEARBORN, Mich. — Police on Friday found about 150 dead dogs packed in freezers in the basement of a Michigan house littered with feces and trash where more than 110 live dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, were rescued this week.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said the 56-year-old man found Wednesday in the suburban Detroit home with the animals may have been living with an increasing number of dogs for up to three or four years.

"The house was in complete disarray, very cluttered and, with 100-plus dogs running around in there, very filthy," he said.

A criminal investigation was under way at the two-story brick home, Haddad said. He said the case could be forwarded to prosecutors for possible animal-cruelty charges.

Haddad said 112 live dogs had been removed from the home as of Friday, and police believe about five more may be hiding inside. He declined to release details about the breed of the dead dogs.

The man living in the house was taken to a local hospital for observation. He had no health insurance and a mental impairment that stemmed from rubella as a child, and had lived for years alone in the home after his parents retired to Florida..." More

More than 100 dogs removed from house

By: Tanveer Ali

Dearborn -- City officials say an unassuming home appears destined for demolition as they continue a rescue operation that has saved more than 100 Chihuahuas living among waste and squalor.

Nick Siroskey, director of the city's residential services, says it could take up to six months to take down the house on the 7800 block of Orchard, saying the condition authorities found it in was uninhabitable.

"There's trash from the floor to the ceiling," Siroskey said of the home where feces and urine were found throughout. "Based on the fact that the house is in the condition it is, it will probably be a required demolition."

Animal control and shelter workers began clearing the home Wednesday, less than a week after animal control officers were called to the home to address a stench permeating the area.

Kenneth Lang Jr., 56, who lives in the home, gave officials consent to enter the home on Wednesday. Forty-two "ailing and feces-covered" dogs were recovered. Authorities returned Thursday with a search warrant and donned hazmat suits to empty the home of trash so they could locate other dogs. By Thursday afternoon, 103 dogs had been found. Authorities are expected to continue searching today..." More