Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, and even reptiles can help people overcome a mild or moderate depression.
There have been academic studies supporting the notion that pet ownership has mental and psychosocial benefits for humans. These benefits include exercise, affection, leadership, companionship, and routine. These five benefits are all the result of being a responsible pet owner. For example, how can I be depressed staring out the window when our cats Sully and Magic wind in and out of my ankles crying that it is time for me to feed them? How can I ignore our dog Moses when he brings me the ball, drops it at my feet, and dances around eager for our after dinner game of catch? How can I stay in bed with the covers over my head when our other dog, Vida, brings a leash to me in hopes of our morning walk? Pets do not take days off. They need our care every day!
Taking the dogs out for a walk is good for the dogs and the human. Fresh air and exercise are known as depression fighters with both physical and psychological rewards. In addition, stroking and holding a cat reduces anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. Perhaps these positive processes explain why many nursing home residents (frequently depressed about their loss of independence) respond so positively when I bring Moses around to visit.
Hopefully, as more and more hospital and nursing home administrators realize there is power in visits from pets, more programs for regular pet visitations will be established.
More than six million older people suffer from clinical depression. At the same time animal shelters are overflowing with dogs and cats that need forever homes. If we could just get the animals and the depressed folks together, the world would be a better place for humans and domesticated animals..." More
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Often those items are unused and even useless.
For Pat Thompson, it started with one car, then another. Then a camper, a trailer, and the list goes on and on..." More & video
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
May 26, 2010: Hoarding Expert Weighs In On Couples' Squalor Home
The South Side two-flat is boarded up now, home only to the rodents and roaches left behind. Those panels hide the garbage that built up in the home for years.
It might be tough to understand how someone could live like this, but as CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports, it's actually a disorder.
Dr. Pat McGrath, of Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital, is an expert in hoarding.
"What will happen sometimes is that people will have so much stuff in their home that it starts to get unsteady, and if they bump it the wrong way, it collapses on them," said Dr. McGrath. "It has killed people in the past, actually." ..." More & video
May 26, 2010: Man, Woman Found Living Under Mounds Of Trash
Police say they were trapped in their own garbage for days, possibly weeks. There are reports they were covered in rodent bites and both were in critical condition when taken to the hospital. It was so severe that firefighters had to don hazmat suits before they could go inside the home in the South Side's Grand Crossing neighborhood.
On Tuesday morning, the stench was still in the air outside the home, at 1508 E. 69th St., from which the couple was removed Monday.
Jesse Gaston, 75, and his wife Thelma, 79, are described as quiet, pleasant and well-liked. She would sing Gospel songs outside her window every Sunday. When her voice went silent, neighbors knew something was very wrong..." More & video
The Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire assisted in 11 animal hoarding cases in the first four months of 2010, nearly triple the number of cases during the same period last year.
The seizure of 44 dogs from a 78-year-old Mont Vernon woman last month may have been the league's most high-profile case this year, but it has not been the largest -- far from it, in fact.
"A week or so before that, we had a case where we brought in 70 cats," said ARLNH's president, Caroline Boyd. "We've just had animals coming in huge numbers."
Boyd said she has seen a steady increase in animal-hoarding cases in just the last few years, rising from an average of four a year to 11 cases in 2009.
►New Hampshire Federation of Humane Organizations
Boyd said she thinks that popular television shows on A&E and TLC may have raised the public's awareness about hoarding, leading to more complaints about animal mistreatment. The economy is also a likely culprit, Boyd said, since it has made caring for dozens of pets a heavy burden.
"With the economy tanking, people who were perhaps holding on are coming to the surface more because of evictions and having to move," Boyd said.
At the ARLNH, Maureen Prendergast is responsible for responding to hoarding cases and other complaints of animal cruelty. The shelter's animal-cruelty investigator since 2005, Prendergast said the ongoing recession has forced even the hoarders themselves to come forward for help.
"The money is not going as far as it was in years past, and some of these instances are folks who have asked for help, where maybe they wouldn't have because they thought that they were handling it OK," Prendergast said.
Most of the hoarding cases Prendergast sees involve cats, which require less attention and are more suited to the colony life of hoarding situations. Summer is typically the busiest time of year for Prendergast, with warmer weather allowing cats to roam -- and mate -- freely.
Being inundated by kittens -- Boyd calls summer the "kitten season" -- exacts a toll on the ARLNH and animal shelters everywhere. In 2009, the ARLNH spent more than $288,000 on its animal-cruelty program, a cost that included investigation, outreach, spaying, neutering and boarding costs.
The cost to process the animals involved in cruelty cases is also nearly double what the shelter spends on other animals. In 2009, the ARLNH spent an average of $718 for each of the 401 animals it took in from cruelty cases. By comparison, the shelter spent an average of $409 on non-cruelty cases.
Much of that cost comes from medical treatment and longer shelter stays because of time spent in quarantine. Some animals involved in hoarding cases may also have behavioral problems, which means they are more likely to remain in the shelter longer before being adopted.
At the ARLNH and other shelters, animal-cruelty investigators are working not only to respond to animal hoarding, but also to make sure that extreme cases don't happen in the first place.
Stephanie Frommer, animal-cruelty investigator at the Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey, said the key to her work is finding the hoarders and persuading them to get help.
"Hoarders by nature tend to be more isolated, so they don't have company over and they don't have parties," Frommer said. "People typically don't go into their houses, or wherever it is they're hoarding (the animals)."
Frommer said she gets worried when she doesn't get complaints about hoarding.
"I've had a somewhat nerve-wrackingly quiet winter for myself because I know that they're out there," Frommer said of hoarders. "It's just a matter of getting tipped off to them; that's the problem."
In Bedford, the ARLNH is also working to reach out to more hoarders, even though the shelter has experienced an unprecedented number of cases this year. For Boyd and Prendergast, persuading people to get help means convincing them that the shelter's top priority is helping the animals.
"I want people to know that they should be comfortable calling us. It's not that we're looking to get someone in trouble. We're not looking to make people's lives more difficult," Boyd said.
"We really just want to go in and help the animals and help people get out of the situation they're in." ..." More
Monday, May 24, 2010
"People who hoard may assign a lot of value to these items," said Dr. Deirdre Petrich, who works as a therapist at the PsyCare in Austintown. "They don't view themselves as hoarders, typically."
In its simplest form, hoarding is classified as collecting too many items, difficulty getting rid of items, and problems with organization.
Dr. Petrich breaks down the difference between a true hoarder and someone who is just a pack rat. .." More & video
Tenants of one beautiful West Village building say they feel like hostages in their own homes because of what's going on inside this one apartment on the 3rd floor.
A Fox 5 camera went in that apartment recently. It turns out that a hoarder, a woman with obsessive compulsive disorder, according to court papers, took over the apartment of an elderly tenant, and filled it with junk.
Rotting food, and bags of soiled cat litter were hidden everywhere. The apartment had been like that since about 2004. The situation went on for years and ended up in court, Barbara Nevins Taylor reported.
Compulsive hoarding may affect up to 2 million people in the United States, according to Hartford Hospital. It is a common and potentially disabling problem, characterized by the accumulation of excessive clutter to the point that parts of one's home can no longer be used for their intended purpose..." More & video
May 12, 2010: Bill to Create Online for Animal Abusers
The Senate Appropriations Committee has placed S.B. 1277 in a suspense file, meaning it could cost the state more than $150,000 and the committee will consider it later. It also means the bill will die unless it is affirmately released from the suspense file for further action...
...Last year Sen. Florez introduced a bill that would have strengthened judges' authority to keep convicted abusers away from animals, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. An online registry is certainly an alternative. .." More
Feb 19, 2010: Senate Bill No. 1277 (.pdf)
March 4th, 2010: A Special Message from California Senator Dean Florez
by Senator Dean Florez
As California's Senate Majority Leader, I take the job of protecting Californians and their animals very seriously. Experts have proven a strong correlation between violence against animals and incidents of domestic abuse. I believe we should have tough laws in place to protect both people and animals from violence.
That's why, last week, I was joined by the Animal Legal Defense Fund's Executive Director Stephen Wells in Sacramento to announce that I am sponsoring tough new legislation that will create a public registry for criminals convicted of felony animal abuse.
On the same day, ALDF launched its national campaign to push for animal abuser registries in all 50 states. Contact your own legislator asking for animal abuser legislation where you live at ALDF's special website, ExposeAnimalAbusers.org.
If someone has been convicted of animal cruelty, I believe they should be prohibited from owning any animals in the future. The animal abuser registry will be an effective tool in preventing ownership of animals by convicted animal abusers..." More
Update October 12, 2009: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has, however, vetoed AB 243, a bill passed by the California legislature that would have banned ownership or possession of any animal for 5 years upon conviction of misdemeanor animal cruelty and 10 years for felony crimes against animals. Anyone caught owning or possessing an animal in violation of this would have been guilty of only a misdemeanor.
May 17, 2009: A Proposal for Mandatory Bans on Contact with Animals Following a Conviction for Animal Neglect or Cruelty
Currently, most states have no mandatory requirements keeping those who are convicted of animal abuse crimes away from animals following their convictions. This despite the fact that offenders have demonstrated, through their actions, their utter disregard for the welfare of animals, and that recidivism in some types of animal abuse cases can reach 100%.
Yet having an animal in one’s life is a privilege, not a right – and with that privilege comes certain responsibilities, including the responsibility of providing adequate care and otherwise not abusing or neglecting the animal. The Animal Legal Defense Fund's First Strike and You're Out law provides another tool to help combat animal neglect and cruelty by mandating that those who are convicted of a violation of their state animal protection laws are prohibited from owning or having contact with animals for a set period of time, ranging from five years for a first misdemeanor offense up to the lifetime of the offender following a second felony offense.
Enacting a First Strike and You're Out law in your state will help in the fight against animal neglect and cruelty by keeping offenders away from potential new animal victims, which would, for example, help stem the high rate of recidivism often associated with animal hoarding. This proposal will also help reduce the huge economic toll which repeat offenders impose on their communities – hoarding cases in particular are very costly, often requiring the cooperation of several local agencies.
First Strike and You're Out Law Highlights
- Separates offenders from potential new victims
- Will help to reduce future crimes against animals and save limited community resources
- Those who have been convicted of animal neglect or cruelty have demonstrated, through their actions, their irresponsibility with animals. This justifies having a set period of time where they are not allowed contact with them.
- Addresses high recidivism rates (near 100%) for certain offenders (i.e. animal hoarders)
How You Can Help
Please contact your state legislators today and ask them to support a First Strike and You're Out law for those who are convicted of animal neglect or cruelty.
For more information on ALDF's model law, or for assistance in drafting a First Strike and You're Out law for your state, please download the following forms or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Strike and You're Out Model Law: Information (PDF)
First Strike and You're Out Model Law: Text (PDF)
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Alexandra Matthews, Ph.D.
What is Hoarding?
According to Frost and Hartl (1996) Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome consists of:
1. The acquisition of, and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value
2. Living spaces are sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed.
3. Significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding
Three Basic Components of Hoarding:
Acquisition: Compulsive buying, acquiring free things.
Saving: Inability to discard anything.
Clutter: Clutter is the end result of acquisition and saving. It is a symptom of the disorder. Clutter is not the problem, so simply cleaning out the clutter/hoard will not solve the problem.
Hoarding can pose a health risk to the hoarder. It can also pose a public health risk due to infestation (rats, roaches), and a risk to public employees who sometimes must enter the home to help the resident.
Any item can be hoarded. Some of the most commonly hoarded items are animals, reading materials (books, newspapers, magazines), clothing, containers (bags, boxes, milk cartons, bottles, cans, etc.), mail, notes and lists, personal papers (old school papers, writing samples, etc.)
Hoarding is a brain disorder. Hoarding is genetic. It is not simply a bad habit that can be easily overcome.
Compulsive hoarding is most commonly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 18-42% of all OCD patients have hoarding and saving compulsions. However, 33% or hoarders do not have OCD.
Other mental disorders often co-occur with Compulsive Hoarding. Some of the most common are: Social Anxiety; Anxiety; Depression; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Impulse Control Disorders (compulsive shopping, gambling, etc.) stroke, neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s, etc.); eating disorders; Autistic Spectrum Disorders; mental retardation; schizophrenia; Tourette’s; compulsive hair pulling...." More
75 sick and emaciated animals were taken from a Fannin County property, Friday. Now four people are under arrest accused of animal cruelty.
Deputies arrested four individuals, at a home in Leonard, where emaciated and dead animals covered the property.
65 dogs and 10 cats were taken to the SPCA's facility in McKinney.
Deputies say it appears the individuals were staying in tents outside the home, because it was overrun with animal feces.
The location is believed to be the site of Vonda's Domestic Animal Rescue Emergency Shelter Services.
"It was a horrible situation for many of the animals," Maura Davies with the SPCA, said. "Many of the dogs had open sores, on various parts of their body. About half of the dogs were underweight. The cats were held in crates in the garage, small transport crates. And one cat was in a crate without food, water or a litter box."..." More & video
Saturday, May 22, 2010
By Ashley Meeks
"I had no idea what I was getting into," Ernest "Gino" Jimenez said Thursday of his first rat-hoarding case in 14 years with Las Cruces animal control. "Never, and I hope to never see it again."
Inside the rented stucco house on the 4800 block of Camino dos Vidas, on the East Mesa, rat feces was "wall to wall" and covered the surface of the renter's bed, Jimenez said.
"The smell was overwhelming," said Jimenez, who did not see any human food in the home. "She did have some rat food, but they've got access to everything. They're eating cardboard, paper, stuffing out of the couches, I mean everything. ... You could see little bite marks on all the (bed) coverings."
Two skinny dogs and 176 red-eyed, Albino rats had been taken to the shelter by the end of the day Thursday, with at least that many still hiding in the home, Jimenez said. Officers also found the fur and skeleton remains of two dead dogs that were presumed to have been eaten by the rats, he said.
Debbie Martin, 55, a renter in the 4800 block of Camino dos Vidas, was criminally cited for excessive waste, improper care and maintenance of animals and dead animal removal. The three misdemeanors each carry a maximum fine of $500 or 90 days in jail.
The hundreds of large, feral rats removed from Martin's home all sprang from a single breeding pair within the last few months, said neighbor Chuck McReynolds.
"I helped her carry in some furniture in there three months ago and there was nothing..." More