When Barbara Rabe, co-founder and president of the Arizona Chihuahua Rescue, received a call asking if her group could accept over 100 dogs - she thought it was a cruel joke. Hardly.
Over 800 animals, mostly small dogs, as well as 82 parrots, were confiscated from a single triple-wide mobile home on March 12 in Tucson.
The Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania SCPA orchestrated a raid on March 13 to recover about 1,000 cats from Tiger Ranch in Tarentum, near Pittsburgh, a place that local officials referred to as "A death camp for cats."
On March 11, police donned hazardous-material suits to rescue 117 starving and diseased dogs from a "shelter" in Sand Springs, KY, including 40 dogs that were either dying or already dead.
So, what's going on? It's a psychological illness called animal hoarding. And some say it's on the rise, though no one knows that for sure.
While these three dramatic cases made national news, Dr. Gary Patronek, vice president animal welfare for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and an author of many papers on animal hoarding, says five or six hoarding cases cross his desk daily.
"Historically, collecting animals was viewed as an animal lover who gets in over his or her head," says Randy Lockwood, senior vice president for anticruelty initiatives and legislative services at the ASPCA. "One popular press story (in the late 1980s) referred to the person who kept almost 1,000 animals, including hundreds of starving, mange-infested dogs crowded together behind locked doors in dark, airless barns as 'Dr. Doolittle.".." More