Saturday, February 12, 2011

Animal hoarder spent $200K to care for 82 dogs

By Michael Inbar

Carolyn opened up her heart, wallet and home to unwanted dogs throughout her Missouri community, but what started as a labor of love nearly did her in. She eventually adopted 82 dogs, causing herself health problems, estranging her from her four children — and nearly sending her and her husband Ron to the poorhouse.

Carolyn (who withheld her last name) appeared on TODAY Friday, the same day that the second season of reality TV series “Confessions: Animal Hoarding” was slated to begin on Animal Planet. Carolyn’s is one of 10 cases examined on the hoarding show this season, and while she prefers the term “animal boarder” to “hoarder,” she admitted her love for dogs took over her life.

Dogs by the dozen
Her obsession began 16 years ago, after the last of her children moved out of the house. Carolyn began volunteering at a local animal shelter and found her heart breaking as she watched animals being euthanized.

“Every day I would go in and there would be several dogs I wouldn’t see again — time after time, day after day,” Carolyn told Meredith Vieira. “So I just got to the point when people would bring them to the door [of the shelter], I’d say, ‘Well, do you want this dog adopted?’ They’d say, ‘I don’t care.’ So I would put them in my Jeep and bring them home.”

Carolyn began taking in more and more dogs, to the point where neighbors would drop off their unwanted dogs at her house rather than the shelter. Her feelings for the animals became so intense that she once stole a dog she believed was being abused from a neighbor.

Eventually, Carolyn had eight dogs inside her house, 20 more living in her yard and another 54 on a property outside town.

The bills were astronomical: The family spent $350 a week on dry dog food alone. Husband Ron estimated the family shelled out more than $200,000 in a little over 10 years’ time on the pets.

Money became tight, and Carolyn began asking her children to pitch in financially. But those children were at their wit’s end. Carolyn’s son Tim, appearing alongside his mother on TODAY, told Vieira that “physically, financially, emotionally, it was taking its toll.”..." More

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