Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Animal Haus - Carol Mas and Estebahn Agustinho

Oct 30, 2009: Judge Rules Animals Removed From Fla. Sanctuary

Carol Mas and husband Estebahn Agustinho were warned about neglect at Our Animal Haus. The Hernando County judge said he saw no malice, but the couple took on more than they could handle.

The removal was expected to start Friday.

Mas, a pop singer in the 1970s, said they were being foreclosed on and just needed a little help. In September, the Huffington Post Web site wrote about her musical past and shelter's financial problems.

An animal services supervisor said he saw evidence of animal hoarding syndrome. The couple kept dead carcasses in a freezer, and inspections found severely malnourished animals, filthy bird and cat cages and untreated disease and injury..."

Oct 29, 2009: Humane Society officials see signs of animal hoarding in Hernando case

By Logan Neill

BROOKSVILLE — To Hernando County Animal Services officers, the home on Lanark Road seemed like a zoo run amok.

The owners of the nonprofit Our Animal Haus animal sanctuary had become overwhelmed with caring for more than 200 animals in their charge, officials would later say.

During eight visits to the 12-acre property of Carol Mas and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho, officers documented numerous examples of animal neglect.

Animal Services director Liana Teague said that despite repeated warnings, the couple allowed conditions to deteriorate. The agency offered to help find homes for some of the animals, yet Teague said Mas steadfastly refused those offers.

The couple are due in county court today for a hearing to determine their fitness to continue as owners of Animal Haus. A court order issued last Friday prohibited Mas from taking in any new animals.

What would make someone who professes a deep love for animals refuse numerous offers of assistance?

Mas' behavior is consistent with that of an "animal hoarding syndrome," said Jen Hobgood, state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

The syndrome, she explained this week, is a pathological disorder that involves a compulsive need to collect and control animals, coupled with an inability to provide proper nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care for them..." More

Oct 23, 2009: Owner of Hernando County rescue Our Animal House can keep animals

By Logan Neill

BROOKSVILLE — Owners of a troubled animal rescue are being allowed to retain guardianship of the 200 animals on their property, as long as they cooperate with Hernando County Animal Services inspectors.

Carol Mas, co-owner of the non-profit Our Animal Haus sanctuary, appeared before county Judge Kurt Hitzemann on Friday to answer accusations by officials that she and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho, failed to provide proper food and living conditions for the animals in their care.

Animal Services supervisor Patrick Pace said a monthlong investigation at the 12-acre property on Lanark Road had uncovered incidences of chronic malnutrition in some animals, untreated wounds on a horse and donkey, and numerous cleanliness issues where animals were housed.

On Oct. 16, a severely malnourished chestnut mare named Ginger was ordered removed from the property by Animal Services. The horse, estimated to be 18 to 20 years old, was later euthanized after a veterinarian who determined it was too weak to save. Another horse and seven cats were removed from the property Wednesday.

In a rambling response, Mas spent nearly 20 minutes in court countering most of the agency's claims. She said the euthanized horse had arrived at her property underweight two years earlier, but she and her husband, who did not appear at the hearing, never thought the animal was suffering...

...Although she admitted that her $476,000 home had been foreclosed on, Mas denied she was in financial distress, saying an unidentified "financial backer" had agreed to pay for improvements to the property.

Mas and her husband moved to the property in 2006 to establish Our Animal Haus. The couple's menagerie grew to include 40 dogs, 98 cats, 48 birds, five horses and a donkey, plus an assortment of domestic and exotic pets, including rabbits, ferrets and a prairie dog.

Pace said a Sept. 16 visit revealed growing problems as the couple became more and more overwhelmed by the work and expense involved in caring for so many animals. Photos entered into evidence showed piles of animal feces in several areas of the home's living quarters.

Another set of photos showed several of the 27 dead animals that officers discovered inside a freezer. Mas explained that she kept the animals there because she was unsure of laws regarding animal burials on her property.

Under Hitzemann's order, Mas must give unfettered access to animal control officers and may not take in any new animals. Animals that have been seized will remain in custody of Animal Services and may be euthanized if so recommended by a veterinarian..." More


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cluttered home? Blame your genes

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – People who have a compulsive urge to collect and clutter their homes with junk can partly attribute their problem to genes, according to a British study.

Researchers from King's College London used a twin study to find that genetic predisposition explained a large amount of the risk for compulsive hoarding -- a mental health problem in which people have an overwhelming desire to accumulate items normally considered useless, like old newspapers or junk mail.

Of the more than 5,000 twins in the study, roughly 2 percent showed symptoms of compulsive hoarding and genes appeared to account for half of the variance in risk.

Researcher Dr. David Mataix-Cols said it has long been known that compulsive hoarding tends to run in families.

But he told Reuters Health that what has not been clear is whether that pattern is due to genes or to something in the home environment, like parenting practices.

"Twin studies allow us to separate these two sources," Mataix-Cols said.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, included both identical and fraternal twins.Identical twins share all of their DNA while fraternal twins share roughly half of their genes, making them no more genetically similar than non-twin siblings..." More

Woman Charged After Numerous Animals Seized From Property

Donna Limberger

A Mabank woman has been arrested and charged with a felony count of animal cruelty after 26 dogs and three cats were taken from her home on VZCR 2724 on October, 16.

Janice Craft, 54, was arrested in Henderson County on Thursday October, 15 for the felony animal cruelty warrant out of Van Zandt County.

According to a press release by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), a SPCA investigator visited the property and began working with Craft to bring her into compliance with the Texas Health and Safety Code.

The investigator returned for the follow up visit almost a month later and the compliance agreement had been met.

"We agreed with the SPCA that the animals’ conditions had deteriorated and that immediate action was needed," said Van Zandt County Investigator Chuck Allen.

Allen said that a hearing regarding the animals’ custody will be held later in the week in the Van Zandt County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 court.

If the SPCA of Texas is awarded custody of the animals, they would be individually evaluated for potential adoption or placement on a case by case basis..." More

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

23 dogs seized from Northeast Portland facility

PORTLAND, Ore. - Nearly two dozen dogs were seized from a northeast Portland facility after the county determined the owner was not providing adequate care for them.

The dogs seized are mostly Chihuahaus and Yorkshire Terriers. Four of the dogs are puppies and one was pregnant. A total of 23 were removed from the facility, which has not been named but was located on Northeast Glisan Street.

According to Animal Services, the dogs were being cared for in unsanitary conditions at the facility and health screenings revealed parasites, infections and multiple health problems.

The owner, Beverly Mathews Simms, had been given 120 days to clean up the facility but according to Animal Services, follow-up inspections showed she was not in compliance..." More

Memphis Animal Shelter Raided

County Deputies Raid Memphis Animal Shelter

Memphis, TN - The Memphis Animal Shelter was searched by Shelby County Sheriff's deputies early Tuesday morning as part of an investigation into reports of animal abuse and cruelty.

Shelby County sheriff's deputies served a search warrant just before sunrise Tuesday after receiving a tip about conditions in the facility.

Officers "found conditions consistent with what had been reported," said sheriff's office spokesman Steve Shular.

"They found dogs that needed food and water, and it was evident that some of the dogs were diseased," Shular said..." More & video

Deputies execute search warrant at Memphis Animal Shelter & video

Filthy flat filled with 300 abandoned guinea pigs

Around 300 abandoned guinea pigs were rescued from a filthy flat in Aachen over the weekend, according to the police.

The authorities had to break into the ground-floor apartment after the neighbours reported a horrible stink emanating from the place. The renter was not at home, but she had left hundreds of the fuzzy rodents to fend for themselves.

Rescue workers were able to gather 270 of the guinea pigs, however, they estimate at least another 30 are hiding the piles of rubbish in the flat. Police did not say how long the pet owner must have been gone, but in some rooms there were piles of guinea pig droppings 10 centimetres high.

Once all the animals are safe, the apartment will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The police said they had yet to make contact with the woman responsible for the mess..." Link
Public domain photo

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holiday dog abandon woman jailed

A dog breeder who abandoned 99 St Bernards to go on holiday has been jailed for 18 weeks for animal cruelty.
Wellingborough magistrates heard 16 dogs have died or been put down since they were found at Wardana Kennels, Brigstock, Northants, last November.

The dogs were found covered in faeces and urine and without food or water.

Mary Collis, 51, admitted seven counts of causing unnecessary suffering to 85 dogs and failing to meet the needs of 14 dogs at an earlier hearing.

The RSPCA was contacted by concerned members of the public after Collis had gone away to Tenerife with her partner.

'Suffering depression'
Inspectors found the St Bernards in poor health, many with matted fur and eye problems.
Collis, a trained veterinary nurse, originally denied the charges but later changed her plea.
Collis, now of Denby Lane, Wakefield, was also banned from keeping any animals for 10 years..." More & video

Woman denies cruelty to 99 dogs 29 Jul 09 Northamptonshire
Homes sought for 100 St Bernards 10 Apr 09 England

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Suffer From Disposophobia? These 7 Famous Hoarders Did

Do you have trouble throwing stuff out? Afraid to let go of that old remote control for the broken TV you’ve got stored away in the basement just in case you might need it someday? You might be suffering from disposophobia, sometimes called pathological hoarding. Of course, there’s a big difference between needing to exorcise your clutter and hoarding, pack rat-style. Disposophobia is a serious form of OCD, and one not to be taken lightly, as the following seven people prove.

1. & 2. Homer and Langley Collyer

3. & 4. The women of Grey Gardens...

30 Shih Tzus were neglected in a Minneapolis home.


Each of the 30 Shih Tzus living in the tiny north Minneapolis home were affectionately named.

There was Honey and Gizzy, Itsy and Bitsy, Trinket and Tippy Toe.

But when Marilyn Fisher, manager of shelter operations for Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, picks up Scharmin, who weighs no more than a few pounds, it's clear something is wrong. The little dog's tail wags, but her pink tongue hangs limply from her mouth, the result of a years-old broken jaw that was never fixed. Others have skin diseases, their fur caked with urine and feces. Or they have missing teeth, or cataracts.

"A lot of them are going to need extensive veterinary care for the rest of their lives," Fisher said, gently stroking the trembling dog's fur.

It's a litany of challenges animal control officials now face in patching up most of the 30 medically neglected Shih Tzus seized Tuesday from the home of a 74-year-old Minneapolis woman who authorities say was practicing "back yard breeding" by selling the dogs through an online business, Tiny Paws Tzus. After neighbors complained of the smell coming from the house, authorities entered with a search warrant, and they seized the dogs despite the woman's resistance. Animal control will recommend charges for animal cruelty and neglect..." More

David Denney

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hoarder problem growing in Oklahoma


Local and state officials are at a loss to explain the recent increase in cases of compulsive hoarding, but say better cooperation is needed to spot the largely hidden phenomenon before it becomes deadly or causes a health risk to neighbors.

Troy Skow, environmental field supervisor with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said inspectors have noticed an increase in hoarders in the past year. All involve women between the ages of 50 and 90, he said.

"It’s on the rise like crazy,” Skow said.

He said 60 to 70 percent of the worst residence complaints have involved a hoarder.

Two Oklahoma County women in recent months have been found dead in their homes, surrounded by stacks of items and filth. The outside of their homes didn’t seem unusual, but inside, the mold, trash and stacked items were hard to comprehend, officials said.

Terry Humphrey, director of the city of Edmond’s code enforcement division, last week told a House committee it took nine firefighters about two hours to get to a dead woman found in trash on the kitchen floor of an Edmondhouse a couple of months ago. Crews removed two tons of garbage from her home..." More

Dogs seized from Bay Springs caregiver

Authorities have removed dozens of dogs from a Bay Springs caregiver after concerns were raised about the animals’ well-being.

Jasper County Sheriff Kenneth Cross said more than 40 dogs were seized and were in conditions ranging from dehydration to being underfed and having matted hair.

He said the woman who’d long raised the dogs had fallen ill, leaving the care-taking duties to her son, who Cross said has been cited for animal neglect.

Cross estimated another 30 dogs, deemed to be in good condition, were left at the site.

Allison Cardona, director of disaster response for the ASPCA, said the seized dogs were being held at a temporary shelter and eventually would be made available for adoption..." More

Senate passes Jehlen-sponsored animal control bill

The Massachusetts Senate passed a comprehensive measure Oct. 21 updating the state’s antiquated statutes that govern animal control in the commonwealth’s 351 communities.

Senate Bill 2172, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D–Somerville), provides the first significant revision of these laws for decades and contains several sections that would improve, with lasting effect, public safety while enhancing animal welfare in Massachusetts.

“The effectiveness of Senate Bill 2172 is thanks to the panel of expert consultants who aided in its creations,” said Jehlen. “From dangerous dogs and feral cat colonies, to animal hoarding and wild animals in urban settings, animal control officers face daily challenges. This bill will give them more tools and skills to protect the public as well as animals.”..." More

Book: 'Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Demystified'

Cinical psychologist Dr. Cheryl Carmin tells us that 6 to 9 million Americans are affected by OCD in her book "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Demystified: An Essential Guide for Understanding and Living with OCD" (Da Capo Lifelong Books; $15.95). Step-by-step she walks you through the disease, dispelling myths, describing symptoms and telling stories of patients (Sarah's contamination symptoms, Jonathan's diagnosis story, Kenny's hoarding story, etc.). At the end of each chapter, from the biology of OCD to the role of medication, are frequently asked questions. The book ends with a glossary of terms, resources and more FAQs. It's a good starting point for anyone with the disease or friends or loved ones who want to better understand and help..." Link

Order on Amazon: here

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animals Rescued From Illegal Brewerytown Pet Shop

Officers from the Pennsylvania SPCA shut down an illegal pet shop in North Philadelphia Thursday.

Approximately 26 dogs were seized from the Brickyard Pet Supply store in the 2200 block of Cecil B. Moore Street in Brewerytown.

Pennsylvania SPCA officers and officials from the state's dog wardens office obtained a search warrant to search the store, which they say was unlicensed.

Officers found many of the animals in poor health and living in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.

The dogs will be held for evidence and examined by a vet before determining if the animals can be adopted.

Investigators are still working to determine which individuals will be charged..." More & video

Sunnyvale store owner gets custody of most animals seized in SPCA raid


GARLAND – Both Sunnyvale feed store owner Earnest Kearney and SPCA of Texas officials claimed victory Friday, after a day of testimony and a split decision from District 2 Justice of the Peace Gerry Cooper.

Kearney will regain 256 animals taken in a raid by the SPCA and Dallas County constables on Oct. 6. Those include rabbits, horses, sheep and other livestock.

"It's a little victory," he said. "Those are our good animals. You'd spend 30 years getting some of those."

However, the 76-year-old owner of Kearney's Store will forfeit 130 chickens and pigeons also taken and $12,000 the SPCA spent in the investigation, seizure, housing and medical costs. And Kearney still faces Class A misdemeanor charges of cruelty to livestock animals.

"The judge determined that 130 animals were cruelly treated," said Ann Barnes, senior vice president of operations for the SPCA of Texas. Those animals, she said, would spend more time in rehabilitation before the organization sought homes for them.

Kearney will have the remainder of his animals back by Tuesday afternoon, according to the agreement..." More

Oct 7, 2009: Community Rallies Around Seized Animals' Owners

By John Knicely

A day after hundreds of head of livestock were seized from Kearney's Store in Sunnyvale, some in the community are rallying to get the animals back. The SPCA says the animals were abused, but the Kearney family and their supporters say those claims are unsubstantiated.

The SPCA hauled off 400 horses, cows, chickens and other animals on Tuesday after obtaining a warrant to seize all the animals on the property. The SPCA sayd it had been getting complaints about the store since 2005.

On Tuesday well-respected businessman and former Sunnyvale City Councilman Earnest Kearney was arrested for cruelty to animals.

"Never been in a jail in my whole life," Kearney said on Wednesday. "That was a new experience for an old man."..." More & video

Oct 6, 2009: Animals seized from Sunnyvale feed store


SUNNYVALE — Kearney's Feed Store has been in business in Sunnyvale for more than 100 years. But on Tuesday, its owner was arrested and the SPCA of Texas hauled away his livestock.

Earnest Kearney, 76, faces charges of cruelty to animals for keeping them in "deplorable" and "cruel" conditions.

Hundreds of animals — including horses, poultry, llamas and goats — were seized and taken into protective custody by the SPCA of Texas under the authority of Dallas County constables.

They say the animals at the feed store have been living under an abusive situation for years. It is alleged that the animals have been cruelly confined, drinking water contaminated with feces.

"Those businesses or individuals that profit through the sale of animals need to understand that the cruelty laws apply to them as well," said SPCA of Texas President James Bias. "If these animals are found to be in an abusive situation, they can face not only having those animals removed, but also criminal charges..." More

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Family, cats removed from house of squalor

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.—New Bedford police said a family was living in one of the worst cases of squalor they’ve ever seen.

Investigators went to the house Tuesday for a report of cats that might be in tough shape.

Lt. Jeffrey Silva said that was an understatement.

“The stench was absolutely horrendous. We couldn’t even go into it without putting on special hazardous-materials suits,“ Silva said. “It’s really like something out of the movies. We’ve never seen anything like this.“

Police were barely prepared for what they found: 13 cats—two of them dead—and floors covered in waste.

“It’s amazing that anybody or anything could live in there,“ Silva said.

The house apparently did not have working toilets.

“Very sad situation,“ Silva said. “Not only were there 11 cats alive that we had to take out of there as well as two skeletal remains of cats, but three people were living in there. A couple in their 50s and their adult son were living in a house that was in just utter squalor. Human and animal feces three feet high, trash turned over.“..." More & video

County board mulls over animal control

Bill Grimes

If there’s one thing Effingham County residents don’t agree upon, it’s how the county board should proceed on a lingering animal control issue.

Despite a 2 1/2 hour board meeting Monday that was punctuated with a number of opposing views, the board wasn’t able to provide State’s Attorney Ed Deters with a whole lot of guidance on several pending issues related to animal control — particularly the alleged hoarding that has generated complaints from several people in a Lake Sara-area subdivision in rural Effingham.

“Ed, we’re not helping you at all,” said board Chairwoman Carolyn Willenburg. “I don’t know what the answer is.”

Board members did agree higher fines should be part of an amended animal control ordinance but said a zero-tolerance policy about animals running loose, even in farm areas, should not be considered...

But board members and private citizens alike agonized over the issue of how many animals is too many. The Illinois Animal Control Act prohibits hoarding of “companion animals,” but does not list a number of animals one must have to be considered a hoarder...

Board member Mark Percival suggested a hoarding provision would be an undue burden on animal control personnel.

“The county has many things to do besides count cats,” Percival said. “Covenants could be placed in each subdivision.”

But several neighbors of Calvin Myatt, who is accused of owning up to 160 cats at his Lake Sara-area home, said Myatt’s cats have caused a problem in their neighborhood. Several residents of the Nees Subdivision on the north shore of the lake have expressed frustration with the inability of anybody to do something about the cats, which they claim create smell and disease issues in their area.

“You can’t sit in my yard without smelling it,” said Jamie Sidwell, who lives down the street from the Myatts. “Having more than 100 cats is wrong.”

County animal control officers and Illinois Department of Ag officials, who have visited the Myatt property, claim Myatt’s cats are cared for and say he is not in violation of the state hoarding statute, which is unclear in its description of what constitutes hoarding..."

Conference: Tenth annual OCD conference Oct. 25, New Jersey

The New Jersey Affiliate of the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (NJ OCF) will host its 10th annual conference Oct. 25 at the Doubletree Hotel in Somerset.

Dr. Fugen Neziroglu, co-founder of Bio- Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, Long Island, will present "Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Hypochondriasis, Hoarding, and other Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Spectrum Disorders; Comparing and Contrasting Treatments with OCD." In addition, there will be a "Living With OCD" panel discussion.

The conference begins at 10 a.m. with registration and brunch. The National Association of Social Workers New Jersey Chapter has approved four CEU credits for social workers and CEH credits are also available for educators.

The NJ OCF has quarterly meetings in central New Jersey that feature OCD experts as the guest speakers. All meetings are free and open to the public.

For a conference brochure and more information about NJ OCF, visit

Recognizing the signs of hoarding

By Nancy Carol

The Mayo Clinic says "People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging."

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "hoarding" as a supply or fund stored up and often hidden away. That sounds thrifty, doesn't it? But some people go way beyond being thrifty, becoming obsessed with keeping so much that it eventually takes over their lives and their homes. People hoard various and sometimes bizarre things including, but not limited to, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, empty boxes, cracked dishes, garbage, human waste and sometimes cats and dogs or other pets.

The well-respected Mayo Clinic says treatment of hoarders is challenging because "those who hoard often don't see it as a problem." If you suspect someone you know is a hoarder, here are some of the symptoms to watch for..." More

Hoarders Season 2: Now casting

Hoarders on A&E is casting its second season of the groundbreaking documentary television series that sheds much needed light on this complicated and underreported condition. Each hour long episode will follow two individuals who suffer from this mental illness thru a crisis situation that is directly caused by their hoarding.

We will provide free services for the hoarder, such as a mental health support, professional organizers, and professional cleanup and/or junk removal services. Each case will be considered on an individual basis, and services will be tailored to fit individual needs. Our professionals like Dr. Tolin all have experience treating this population and are appropriately trained and credentialed.

We are looking for individuals willing to spend 3-5 days sharing their stories on camera.

We understand that compulsive hoarding is an extremely emotional and difficult disorder, and it is our hope that by sharing the personal stories of our guests it will help others realize they are not alone. We will also share the right way for families and friends to approach a hoarder to, hopefully, avoid dangerous living environments.

What we are looking for:

1. Individuals willing to tell their story.

2. Individuals motivated to change by a ticking clock, or crisis caused by hoarding that needs to be addressed immediately.

3. We need to show how the hoarding has impacted friends and/or loved ones.

These individuals will need to appear on camera and share their side of the story.

Whatever your crisis, whatever your story, we are interested in listening.

If you or someone you know is a compulsive hoarder please go to our website to learn more information and to apply: