Sunday, August 30, 2009

Woman asks for help with 74 cats


A Canton woman who has turned over 74 cats and kittens to the Humane Society of Huron Valley also hoarded 50 others that died five years ago when her earlier house caught fire, authorities said Friday.

“There's an extreme amount of animal cruelty in hoarding animals, and there should be punishment for that,” said Tanya Hilgendorf, executive director of the Ann Arbor-based Humane Society of Huron Valley.

The 58-year-old postal carrier last week sought help for 74 cats and kittens in her Carlisle Court home, near Warren and Morton Taylor roads, and she could potentially face misdemeanor charges of animal neglect, Canton police Sgt. Mark Gajeski said.

Unlike recent revelations about a Dearborn man who had 150 dead and 100 living Chihuahuas, the Canton woman had only living cats and kittens when she called the humane society, authorities said.

Humane society officials contacted investigators who went to the woman's house, “took two steps inside and were unable to remain in the home due to the odor,” Gajeski said.

“Most are in decent health,” Hilgendorf said, “although they came from very unsanitary conditions. Some are being monitored for their ability to use a litter box. I think they were basically using the floor.”.." More

Madison inspectors help hoarders clean up

Bill Lueders

Last week A&E debuted a new reality show, Hoarders, about people who engage in pathological accumulation, often due to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Last Saturday, Madison police found the body of a 70-year-old woman in the garage of a house described as "full of garbage," in some places stacked five feet high.

How big a problem is hoarding in Madison?

"We deal with it, and the Health Department deals with it," says George Hank, head of the city of Madison's Building Inspection Division. "These cases are very time-consuming."

Hank's division focuses on tenant hoarders, generally about one new case a week. The health department, meanwhile, handles owner-occupants. Both work cooperatively with residents, to get them to, er, clean up their acts.

"We use, for lack of a better phrase, the baby-steps approach," says Hank, explaining that tenants may be asked to just make a dent. "We've worked with people for a year to get things cleaned up, because we know this is a mental health issue."

When children are involved, the urgency increases. A few years back, a child protection worker joined Hank on a visit to a tenant with "huge storage and garbage issues" and laid down the law: "I'm coming back at four o'clock, and if this place isn't clean the kids are coming with me."..." More

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Dangers and Risks of Animal Hoarding

By Sara Le

In an attempt to learn the true reasoning behind animal hoarding, which has been an issue amongst some animal owners for a great many years, veterinarians and animal rights activists have taken their research to a new and heightened level. What has been discovered lives in the realm of the human psyche, and medical definitions for this type of disorder are likened to forms of dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and disillusionment. When animal hoarding as a psychological disorder is brought to the court room, it is much more difficult to actually hold an individual responsible for the neglect and cruelty often discovered in such cases. The health and welfare of humans still far outweighs that of any animal species, and as such will leave the suffering of hoarded animals without justice.

Animal hoarding is very different from the blatant abuse or neglect of an animal, as the person involved is genuinely and deeply attached to the many animals that they collect. This usually results in an absolutely filthy and unsanitary home environment for everyone involved, including the person who suffers this disorder. Most hoarded animals are never trained, bathed, or allowed outdoors, and those who are outdoors will be confined to extremely small places. As the disorder and the animal population grow more cumbersome, most hoarded animals will fall ill due to malnourishment. There is seldom enough water or food, or enough energy from the owner, to take care of everyone. The smaller and weaker animals will fall most quickly to animal hoarding, as the home environment becomes a matter of survival of the fittest..." More

Animal abuse exacerbated by current times


People in Central Virginia are talking about the latest incidents involving the seizure of mistreated, malnourished and sick animals.

Three times in the last 2 weeks, law enforcement and animal welfare agencies have visited a farm, a reported puppy-mill and an animal retirement facility because of the alleged abuse, neglect and even death of several animals.

The horrific conditions may come as a surprise to average concerned citizens but these current events only highlight what animal welfare groups have known for decades.

“I don’t know that we are seeing more cases,” explains Deborah Schnackenberg, Vice-President of the Animal Protection Division of the American Society. “I can only talk from our experience. What I think what we are seeing is a lot more public awareness about animal welfare.”

“Not long ago, local jurisdictions only did something when the situation became a public nuisance,” continues Schnackenberg. “The local governments are now becoming much more in tune with what the public is wanting and the public is more aware of the problem and encouraging their officials to do something to protect pets and other animals.”
In at least two of the recent three cases, witnesses involved in the incidents have referred to a little known and even less understood condition called animal hoarding.

In hoarding, people collect and keep items beyond the person’s ability to use, store or care for those items..."

Shocking Animal Neglect in Local Home

Neighbors want to help the dogs. Anyone who wishes to adopt one of the neglected animals or donate money for their care is asked to send an email to
The front yard of 7915 Sea Breeze Drive in Orchard Beach was cluttered and overgrown, but the smell was even worse. “The smell was horrendous. I couldn't even have my windows open,” one neighbor said.

That's because animal control officers said 21 malnourished dogs lived with a family of 4 inside the home that was full of little and dog feces. “The sound of the dogs howling the smell and I've been complaining, complaining and nothing was done,” said Krysta Dear.

But she called Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold's office and they responded immediately Friday just before 11:30am. “Clearly this is a deplorable situation and residents in the area should not have to tolerate this,” said County Executive Leopold.

Debbie Wehberg has lived in the neighborhood more than 40 years and said the family has always had problems with animal hoarding. “At one time we had gotten traps and trapped the cats and there were like 70 something cats they had trapped between a couple of the neighbors so it's been like this for as long as I can remember.".."
More & video

Paramedics Repelled by 400+ Animals

That was the comment of one neighbor after the Marion County, Florida, paramedics transported Ileana Verguizas to the hospital after wending off 432 animals and their accompanying stench that filled her 2,500-sq. ft. home and yards. The call came into the emergency dispatch center from a man who said that his wife had an unknown medical problem. When the ambulance arrived, the medics found that they couldn’t stay inside the house long enough to treat the woman at first because of the high level of ammonia fumes..." More & video

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hoarder Culture

By: Ann Leary

They've found another one. It's been all over the news. They keep showing footage of her standing in front of what seems to be an ordinary suburban home, but when the front door opens, her awful secret is revealed. This sweet, innocent-looking granny hasn't seen fit to throw anything out since the Nixon administration. She's a hoarder and her grown-up children have ratted her out. It's a disease, they say on the morning news, on CNN, on CNBC -- a disease that creates chaos for those around the hoarder. How did her life get so out of control? To find out, I'm told, tune into Oprah (orDr. Phil) later today.

News about hoarding used to be a wake-up call for me and I'd spend the next several days trying to unearth my office from years worth of old manuscripts, bills, wrapping paper, empty hamster cages, sports bras, Easter baskets, dog bones, waffle irons, soccer cleats and magazines. Oh, and catalogs. Hundreds and hundreds of catalogs. Now, I'm so far gone that when I see a fellow hoarder being carted off, my eyes dart from side to side and my heart races. Is that a car I hear pulling up outside? A news van? Oprah's limousine? I envision myself being led outside to a waiting team of behavioral psychologists, while men in haz-mat suits and gas masks bravely enter my home.

I'm really not as bad as the people who end up on Oprah, but I'm getting there. I have children and sometimes they have friends over. Sometimes these friends have parents who pick them up and stop in to chat. I can't bear the shame of a messy home, so I do the only sensible thing. When I learn that somebody is about to arrive at my house, I run around grabbing newspapers off the floors, cable bills out of the sink, dog bones off the sofa, socks and sports bras off the kitchen table and I toss them into the only downstairs room with a door -- my office. Then I close the door. When the person arrives, they see a relatively tidy home. I'll sort out my office later, I tell myself. And the years go by..." More


The heroes share their stories & updates from Great Kitty Rescue forever homes.

Two years ago Best Friends Animal Society embarked on a rescue of cats trapped in an institutional hoarding situation. Best Friends was requested to help Nye County Animal Control in Nevada with what is still one of the single largest cat rescue operations in history.

Known as "The Great Kitty Rescue" or the "Nye County Cat Rescue," originally there was believed to be about 400 cats in a barren compound, concealed behind chain-link privacy fencing in a neighborhood in Pahrump, Nevada. By the time the facility was closed down and the remaining cats were transported to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the total number of cats numbered closer to 800..." More

WYANDOTTE: Dozens of cats rescued from one-bedroom apartment

By Jim Kasuba

A slew of Himalayan cats are being housed in the city’s animal shelter after their removal from a one-bedroom apartment.

The cats came to the attention of Animal Control Officer Charles Gillenwater through an anonymous caller who said that up to 40 cats were in an apartment in the 1300 block of Ford Avenue.

Gillenwater spoke to the tenants, a 58-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man, Aug. 12. The man said they had 13 cats while the woman said there were six, along with five kittens.

Gillenwater said as soon as he walked into the apartment building, he was overcome with the strong smell of cat urine. He told the couple he needed to see all of the cats to check on their well being.

Members of the Fire and Engineering departments also were called to the scene. Wearing air masks, Gillenwater and a firefighter entered the apartment to check on the cats.

Gillenwater said the apartment was messy and smelled of cat feces and urine..."

Animal hoarding often a hidden disorder

Expert says extent of behavior unknown


The news accounts pop up occasionally — scores of cats, dogs or other animals living uncared for in cramped, often filthy conditions with a person claiming to be helping them.

The medical term for such behavior is animal hoarding. Holly Dreger talked about the symptoms of the disorder and how to help a sufferer Thursday afternoon in a lecture at The William W. Backus Hospital.

“They really believe they are helping the animals,” said Dregar, director of behavioral health services at Catholic Charities in Norwich.

She said hoarders overwhelmingly are older women, and numerous theories exist for the cause.

“One is that people have attachment issues,” she told the audience of 24. “They may have had abusive, neglectful or inconsistent parenting. An animal is a stable fixture in a chaotic home.”

She said other theories include trauma and chemical conditions affecting the portion of the brain that deals with thinking, planning and emotions.

She also said mental health professionals do not know how prevalent the problem is.

“Some sources say 600, others 6,000,” she said. She cited a recent study published by Tufts University saying that 250,000 animals per year are affected..." More

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deputies seize goats, sheep and horse in Douglas County

OAKLAND, Ore. -- Sheriff's deputies seized 28 goats, a sheep and a horse after finding dead animals decomposing on the property and in animal barns, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

On Tuesday, deputies served a search warrant at a Feather Lane residence in Oakland, Ore., accompanied by two members of the Humane Society of the United States and a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The animal owners were cooperative and showed the deputies around the property.

The veterinarian determined that the cattle, pigs, horse, goats and fowl all appeared to have been fed adequately, according to the sheriff's office.

However, several of the goats were found to have severe neglect on their hooves, causing some to have to walk on their knees or just hobble around. Some had respiratory problems. A horse on the property also had severe hoof neglect.

Investigators also found some dead animals decomposing on the property and a couple in the animal barns.

Investigators seized 28 goats, 1 sheep and 1 horse. The goats and the sheep were taken to Saving Grace Animal Shelter for care and medical treatment. The horse was being sheltered at a local horse rescue organization..." More


Dozens of dogs seized from home

JASPER COUNTY - by Steve Stewart/KJAS - The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized numerous dogs from the residence of the late Homa "Hal" Horace Smith on Tuesday morning. Smith, who died in July, was the father of Eric Smith, the man who killed Martin Lynn Byerly in 2007 and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

SPCA employee Bob McClintock said he estimates there were 35 to 40 dogs on the property, 17 of which were living inside the house which is located at the corner of County Road's 245 and 244, just north of Jasper. McClintock said he and the other SPCA workers would not be able to capture all of the dogs, but they would try to catch the majority of them.

One by one, SPCA employees carried out dogs that were suffering from mange, malnutrition, and other apparent illnesses. They were loaded onto a special bus and will be carried to Houston where they will receive medical treatment, and will be evaluated for adoption.

A neighbor, Harvey Loupe, said that he could smell the dogs and their waste from his house about 300 yards away.

Hal Smith's widow, Janice Smith, lived in the house alone with the dogs following her husband's death..." More

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stolen dogs found in Peru medical school lab

By Madelyn Fairbanks

LIMA (Reuters) – At least two stolen dogs were found in an operating room used for dissections at the medical school of South America's oldest university, but its dean denied relying on dognappers to collect specimens for classes.

The University of San Marcos does not have access to enough human cadavers for its students, so they sometimes cut open dogs instead.

Carmen Valverde's dog Tomas was stolen by two men while she was walking in the working-class Brena district of Lima, and a friend who works at the school's teaching hospital spotted him by chance in a surgery room where dogs are dissected.

Valverde donned a lab coat and snuck into the hospital to rescue Tomas. Video her friend shot a week ago, aired on local television, shows him sedated, splayed, and strapped to a stainless steel table -- just moments away from the knife.

After local newspapers published the story, other people missing dogs rushed to the hospital's door and one owner found her dog Chico.

"The University of San Marcos still hasn't apologized for what it has done," Valverde told Reuters Thursday.

Ricardo Rubios, dean of the medical school, acknowledged that stolen dogs had wound up in the surgery room, but said the school only uses strays for classes..." More

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stuarts Draft dog seizure spurred by routine inspection


STUARTS DRAFT — The seizure of 97 dogs Friday from a Stuarts Draft breeder was prompted by a routine inspection of his kennel, according to a search warrant filed in Augusta County Circuit Court.

The warrant, though, is vague about the condition of the dogs, all of which were relinquished by breeder Kyle Brydge, who has not been criminally charged in the case.

State and county officials confiscated the dogs from Oak Leaf Kennel, located on China Clay Road. Debbie Caywood, director of the Augusta County Regional SPCA, would not comment on the health of the dogs because of a pending “court case.”

Caywood said the ownership rights of the dogs were signed away and that the SPCA, with the help of The Humane Society of the United States, has placed the animals in various shelters. Thirty-six of the dogs remain at the local SPCA and five are ready for adoption. The remaining 31 dogs, small-breed dogs, will be put up for adoption Wednesday, according to Caywood.

In 2007, Brydge told Augusta County officials that he wanted to increase his kennel’s capacity to 250 dogs. During questioning by the Board of Zoning Appeals, Brydge said his puppies were sold before being weaned and the adults usually were sold at six years of age when done breeding. At the time, Brydge said he did not sell the dogs to pet stores and instead used a broker because he did not have a United States Department of Agricultural license.

Brydge said the kennel sits on 17 acres and that the dogs were seen by a veterinarian two times per year. Another 60 dogs, he said, were being kept at a Staunton property. The board denied Brydge’s request and set his limit at 106 dogs.

The search warrant, filed Monday and written by an officer with Augusta County Animal Control, said Brydge’s dogs were “found in shape they were in with adequate water, food and veterinary care.”.." More

45 cats seized during raid at woman's home

PORTLAND (AP) — A 51-year-old woman has been charged with animal neglect after authorities seized 45 cats from her home in Albany.

Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller said deputies and the SafeHaven Humane Society raided the home of
Jean Primrose on Saturday and found unsanitary conditions and a large number of cats that needed immediate medical care.

He said officials found cat urine and feces on furniture, walls, clothing and on Primrose and her two elderly parents who also live there. A number of cats were suffering from urine scalding, ear and eye infections, malnourishment and dehydration.

Primrose has been charged with 45 counts of second-degree animal neglect.

She relinquished ownership of the animals and the cats have been taken by the society for medical care and adoption placement...."

Seized cats will all be up for adoption (photo credit: David Patton/Democrat-Herald)

29 Dogs Seized From Suspected Dog Fighting Operation Need Homes

Twenty-nine dogs that were seized in a raid involving suspected dog fighting and drug trafficking have formally been turned over to the Georgia SPCA.

Officials said the dogs' owner Antonio Monds, 32, had been under surveillance for six months for suspected dog fighting operation, gambling and drugs. Law enforcement, NORRED investigators and GA SPCA emergency response team seized the dogs from the Talbot County property on Wednesday and moved them to an undisclosed location in a nearby county.

Monds surrendered ownership of the dogs to the Talbot County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday. The Talbot County Sheriff’s Department is not equipped to care for animals that are seized so they have now turned over custody of the dogs to the Georgia SPCA. Georgia SPCA director, Joan Sammond said that the dogs are currently undergoing a more thorough evaluation for health and temperament and will be ready to go into rescue as early as next week. At that time the dogs will be fostered with rescue and adopted out as each agency sees fit.

"We will be taking several of the dogs into our Suwanee adoption facility. The rest of the dogs we need to find eligible rescue and humane organizations to take because our facility does not have the space for this many dogs. We have been contacted by Mariah’s Promise, a Pit bull rescue in Colorado but they are not sure how many of the dogs they would be able to help out with," Sammond said..." More

Friday, August 21, 2009

Woman faces 50 counts of animal cruelty

Accused of keeping cats in deplorable conditions

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - News 4 is learning more about a woman accused of keeping more than four dozen cats in deplorable conditions.

Joanne McGrath says she was giving food and shelter to sick and abandoned cats that nobody wanted or cared about. She pleaded not guilty to fifty counts of animal cruelty.

McGrath said, "I was only trying to do good for animals. I'm not the kind of person they're portraying me to be."

But the SPCA says it had to rescue forty-nine cats and a dog from squalid conditions, both in McGrath's Saint Francis Animal Sanctuary on Sayre Street in Buffalo, and her home on Arkansas Street...." More & Video

Additional video: Animal Hoarding defined

August 17, 2009: Woman who hoarded cats charged with 50 counts of cruelty

The operator of a pet sanctuary in a feces-littered apartment on Sayre Street where 32 cats were removed on Aug. 6 was charged today with 50 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Joanne C. McGrath, 55, of Arkansas Street, faces up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both, if convicted on the charges. McGrath is scheduled to appear on the charges Friday morning in Buffalo City Court, according to Gina Browning, a spokeswoman for the SPCA Serving Erie County.

A week after animal rescue workers from the SPCA removed 32 cats from a rear apartment at 33 Sayre St. in the city's Riverside neighborhood, where McGrath operated St. Francis Pet Sanctuary, rescue workers seized 17 cats and a puppy from McGrath's Arkansas Street apartment.

"She signed over the cats that were seized from the Sayre Street property," Browning said Monday. "So, right now we own 32. She didn't sign over the ones from her residence, but they're still in [the SPCA's] custody."

Two of the 17 cats removed from McGrath's Arkansas Street apartment were near death at the time the SPCA seized them and were later euthanized, Browning said.

"We're dealing with the 32 cats seized from Sayre Street on a case-by-case basis, but it looks like they all will survive," Browning added..." More

Hillside woman hoarding cats previously had 122 felines removed from house

by Erin Eileen O'Neill

HILLSIDE -- After animal welfare agencies found nearly 40 cats living in the disheveled home of a Hillside woman, they say it wasn't the first time they've had to intervene.

On Wednesday, the Associated Humane Societies in Newark took 26 cats from Caroline Szalay's one-story, feces-covered Broadway home.

Hope for Animals, a nonprofit organization involved in the rescue efforts, said they rescued another 10 cats from the house. The organization is working to free another five cats they think remain in the home.

It was the second time the Hillside woman was found hoarding cats.

In 2005, animal control officials removed 122 felines from Szalay's home, according to Denton Infield, Associated Humane Societies manager.

"I went into that house four years ago, from my knees to my feet I couldn't even see my white suit, because there were so many fleas on my body," said Infield.

Every one of those 122 cats tested positive for ringworm, said Infield, and were euthanized. The 26 cats transferred to the Newark shelter this week were also euthanized..." More

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Too many best friends: animal hoarding


The old woman who lived in the shoe with all those children and Old Mother Hubbard whose bare cupboard held no bones for her dog are nursery rhyme examples of too much and too little. In real life, an unusual disorder joins too much and too little in a condition known as animal hoarding.

Although having pets is known to be good for your health and your mental well-being, two much of a good thing can be bad even deadly. When the number of pets exceeds your ability to adequately care for each one; the situation becomes hazardous for both pets and people.

Common hoarding is fairly well-known by both medical professionals and the average lay-person. It can be associated with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) but some hoarders do not exhibit other symptoms of OCD.

A hoarder collects but does not discard items that are either useless, of no value or possess little value in large numbers. Living spaces are so cluttered with these items; the space can no longer be used for its original purpose. The amount of items causes distress to the owner.

Scientists have not determined what causes hoarding and there is no definitive cure. Most medical sources indicate a belief that there is a genetic link and that the disorder may be more biological than psychological. Hoarding is very difficult to treat.

Animal hoarding is an even less understood type of hoarding. Even the psychiatric journals list little research and credit animal protection agencies for recognizing the severity of the problem and getting information out to the public and the scientific community.

In the case of animal hoarding, Tufts University evaluates the condition by several criteria. Does the person have more companion animals than would be considered normal? ..."

Good News: On TV: Reality show funds dog rescue

“Pitbulls and Parolees” will air on Animal Planet.

By Sue Manning

LOS ANGELES — Pit bulls and parolees. Tia Maria Torres has opened her heart and home to the unwanted.

On 17 acres in the rugged terrain of Canyon Country, Torres provides a place to live or work for six parolees, 225 pit bulls, 204 volunteers, two French bulldogs, 19 cats, a husband and four kids.

Torres, 49, started Villalobos Rescue Center – the largest pit bull rescue in the United States – 14 years ago. She added ex-cons three years ago with prison pen pal and tattoo artist Aren Marcus Jackson, who would become her second husband.

But the rescue has been a money pit requiring creative financing. She tried to open a brothel to pay the bills, but it burned down. So now she's turning to reality TV – Animal Planet's “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” which airs next month – to help cover the $20,000 in monthly bills (including a ton of dog food a week) and an ever-growing $25,000 vet tab.

Adoptions averaged 10 a month recently, but they are running close to their 250 capacity. “If I took every dog I got a call on, I'd be taking in 100 a week,” Torres said.Producer Michael “MikeyD” Dinco was a student in a pit bull class Torres taught years ago. During a visit after the parolee program started, he knew he had to film a TV pitch..." More

Thanks to ohmidog for leading us to this story!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Expo housing seized animals

Precinct 4 constable officials and officers with the City of Nacogdoches Animal Control unit seized 118 dogs Thursday night from a suspected puppy mill inside Kingtown along County Road 566.

The owner of the backwoods kennel, Lauree Brown, was arrested at the property located about 20 miles outside of Nacogdoches and faces a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals, authorities said. A subsequent seizure warrant was issued for all the animals on the property.

The breeds of the dogs included pit bulls, dachshunds, boxers, bull terriers, chihuahuas and schnauzers. Seven cats, seven rats and two rabbits were also seized. Most of the dogs were chained to the ground and had little food or clean water within reach. Several of the dogs were locked inside hot tin sheds and trailers with no water, and some of the smaller dogs were found inside chain link kennels with up to half a dozen other dogs.

Before she was taken to the county jail, Brown told Daily Sentinel reporters who were on the scene that she had the proper documentation for the dogs, and that those with mange were being treated. Animal control officers and Pct. 4 Constable Jason Bridges, who made the arrest, said Brown did not produce the proper documentation for the animals when they arrived.

"These dogs are my dad's, who's in the hospital dying of heart failure right now, and these dogs are the only thing that's kept me from doing the same, and they want to take them from me," Brown emotionally exclaimed from the back seat of a constable's squad car. "I have never been in trouble, and I have loved dogs since I was a baby. I just don't want somebody thinking that I am sitting here neglecting the animals and abusing them."

Brown defended the operation and claimed that she had taken in some of the dogs from friends who no longer wanted the animals, and that they would have been left for dead without her care..." More

Photo: Christy Wooten