Donalee Ping faced a daunting task in July after discovering a tenant in Sebring was hoarding at least 80 parrots.
She found more than 50 dead parrots in an unventilated room where rodents, snakes, cockroaches, spiders and other pests covered the floor. She wrapped her face with a T-shirt and tried to clean and rescue some of the remaining animals.
While Ping was just trying to help, jumping into a hoarding situation without proper training or resources can be unwise.
That's why experts are holding a series of free symposiums to raise awareness about hoarding and the proper ways to handle it. The first is Friday at Aston Gardens in Westchase.
The seminar, aimed at people who might come across hoarding cases – such as social workers, guardians and clergy -- is a first-of-its-kind in the area and badly needed because of the growing hoarding problem, said event organizer Dale Smrekar, an estate liquidator.
"This idea really came about because I saw so many church groups going in and cleaning up these hoarding situations, and they really shouldn't do that," he said. "They can be really dangerous."
Hoarding problems are becoming more common. Yet, much is not known about the disorder, and few resources are out there to help.
Clinical psychologist Kristi Weiner said it isn't clear how many cases go unreported.
"Some reports say one in 20 people may be affected by hoarding, while other studies cite one in 50," she said.
Hoarding, the excessive accumulation of items, comes in many forms. Some hoard animals; others hoard garbage, and some hoard information. Weiner said there is a distinct difference between an avid collector and a hoarder...
...Friday's symposium is open to the public, but space is limited. It starts at noon and is at Aston Gardens of Tampa Bay, at 12951 Linebaugh Ave. To register, call (813) 855-2811.
A second seminar will be held Oct. 7 at Westminster Communities in St. Petersburg. To register, call (727) 432-0307.
Interest in the symposiums was so high that Smreaker added a third symposium at Westminster Suncoast on Dec. 9..." Link