Monday, May 31, 2010

Atlanta Humane Society Home To Louisiana Dogs Rescued From Hoarder's House

The Atlanta Humane Society is taking care of 40 dogs from Louisiana.

The Atlanta agency agreed to pick up 35 dogs from the Louisiana SPCA. The SPCA rescued most of the dogs from a hoarder's house. Since the Louisiana shelter is making room to clean up animals coated in oil from the spill in the Gulf, they were looking for another agency to handle this group.

"The dogs that we have that came in in that room were from the Louisiana SPCA," said Katie Black from the Atlanta Humane Society. "They had a hoarding case that they had to deal with, 70 animals were kept in one household. They called us in because they were pretty overwhelmed with the animals and needed help with getting some of them out of the shelter."

The Louisiana SPCA is a partner shelter with the Atlanta Humane Society.

"They had 70 from the hoarder case and we took 21 from the hoarder case to help them out," she said. "We also took some from their general public to help them with placing these animals."

She said the Louisiana SPCA provided behavior testing and medical treatments before sending the animals to Georgia. Black noted the dogs were pretty healthy..." More

Atlanta Humane Society Home To Louisiana Dogs Rescued From Hoarder's House

The Atlanta Humane Society is taking care of 40 dogs from Louisiana.

The Atlanta agency agreed to pick up 35 dogs from the Louisiana SPCA. The SPCA rescued most of the dogs from a hoarder's house. Since the Louisiana shelter is making room to clean up animals coated in oil from the spill in the Gulf, they were looking for another agency to handle this group.

"The dogs that we have that came in in that room were from the Louisiana SPCA," said Katie Black from the Atlanta Humane Society. "They had a hoarding case that they had to deal with, 70 animals were kept in one household. They called us in because they were pretty overwhelmed with the animals and needed help with getting some of them out of the shelter."

The Louisiana SPCA is a partner shelter with the Atlanta Humane Society.

"They had 70 from the hoarder case and we took 21 from the hoarder case to help them out," she said. "We also took some from their general public to help them with placing these animals."

She said the Louisiana SPCA provided behavior testing and medical treatments before sending the animals to Georgia. Black noted the dogs were pretty healthy..." More

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pets as antidepressents and pets as obsessions

By Jill Sweet

Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, and even reptiles can help people overcome a mild or moderate depression.
Unlike Prozac or Zoloft, however, there are not so many nasty side effects from simply caring for a pet. Positive interaction with pets can even reduce the risk of the more serious, clinical depressions. In short, feelings of sorrow, dread, loneliness, hopelessness, and meaninglessness can be reduced when a pet enters the picture. Pets may not cure a depression, but they can make them more manageable, less frequent and shorter in duration.
There have been academic studies supporting the notion that pet ownership has mental and psychosocial benefits for humans. These benefits include exercise, affection, leadership, companionship, and routine. These five benefits are all the result of being a responsible pet owner. For example, how can I be depressed staring out the window when our cats Sully and Magic wind in and out of my ankles crying that it is time for me to feed them? How can I ignore our dog Moses when he brings me the ball, drops it at my feet, and dances around eager for our after dinner game of catch? How can I stay in bed with the covers over my head when our other dog, Vida, brings a leash to me in hopes of our morning walk? Pets do not take days off. They need our care every day!

Taking the dogs out for a walk is good for the dogs and the human. Fresh air and exercise are known as depression fighters with both physical and psychological rewards. In addition, stroking and holding a cat reduces anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. Perhaps these positive processes explain why many nursing home residents (frequently depressed about their loss of independence) respond so positively when I bring Moses around to visit.

Hopefully, as more and more hospital and nursing home administrators realize there is power in visits from pets, more programs for regular pet visitations will be established.

More than six million older people suffer from clinical depression. At the same time animal shelters are overflowing with dogs and cats that need forever homes. If we could just get the animals and the depressed folks together, the world would be a better place for humans and domesticated animals..."

Volunteers Helping Woman Overcome Hoarding In Idaho Falls

There are people in the world who hoard things. They stuff their homes with debris, unable to throw away anything.

The Idaho Falls Fire Marshall ran into this exact situation early this year, and he has spent thousands of hours organizing volunteers to clean and gut the hoarder's house.

Ken Anderson was contacted by the Planning and Zoning Department about a homeowner who was breaking a lot of city ordinances. When he arrived at the home, he asked the homeowner if she could open the door.

"So, I asked her, I said, 'Can you open this door?'" said Anderson. "And she said 'no.' And I asked if it was because she couldn't or wouldn't." And she said, there's too much stuff behind the door."

Anderson then asked the 62-year-old woman how she got into her own house. "There was a small hole in the back door," said Anderson. "And you could see debris spilling out of the hole. And that's how she got into the house. She crawled through the hole and up the debris pile inside the home."

Anderson followed her, and found debris stacked wall to wall, five feet high. The Fire Marshall believed the house was a fire danger, and he posted it as uninhabitable. The homeowner was required to move out..." More & video

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Treatment to solving obsessive-compulsive disorder as agonizing as condition on VH1's 'OCD Project'


"The OCD Project," Thursday night at 10 on VH1

The best part of this new VH1 show about treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is that, in contrast to most reality programs, the featured subjects don't look even a little bit happy to be here.

When C-list celebs sign up for rehab shows, or civilian contestants risk humiliation on other reality shows, you often get the idea that they've calculated the pluses and minuses and decided that being on television outweighs any other consideration.

That may also be true here. But it doesn't feel that way. It feels like the six people who are undergoing tough-love OCD treatment on this show agreed to expose themselves in very unflattering ways because they're running low on both options and time.

Kristen, 28, who is phobic about "contamination," says she spends up to six hours a day washing her hands, sometimes until she rubs the skin off.

She works as a banker, but human contact, needless to say, doesn't come easily to someone who uses hand sanitizer every time she has to shake hands. So she lives in a bubble, literal and figurative. While it's a well-sanitized bubble, the 28-year-old also calls it "a lonely world."

Cody, 18, is home-schooled because his life revolves around various rituals. He estimates 60% of his day is rituals. It takes him an hour to turn a computer on or off.

Traci needs two hours to perform the rituals that get her out of bed. She's obsessed with the idea that if she doesn't perform these and dozens of others during the day, her 9-year-old son will die.

So even though her fears are more about herself than her son, he's imprisoned by them. She won't let him out of the house, for instance, because he might breathe "bad air."

While OCD is a casual punch line to much of the world, it's a life-changer to these six people, and not in a good way. The host, Dr. David Tolin, warns them that they won't enjoy his methods of taking their lives back...." More

More on Dr. Tolin, the show and watch the premiere: here

Hoarding: A tough cycle to break

By Michelle Esteban

We used to call them pack rats, now they're known as hoarders -- people who have a need to hoard or collect stuff, and their homes are stuffed from floor to ceiling with items they can't live without.

Often those items are unused and even useless.

For Pat Thompson, it started with one car, then another. Then a camper, a trailer, and the list goes on and on..."
More & video

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hoarding Couple Found Trapped In Home

May 26, 2010: Hoarding Expert Weighs In On Couples' Squalor Home

By Mike Puccinelli

The two elderly South Side residents who were found under a pile of trash in their home are still recovering in the hospital Wednesday night, while the city's building department waits for a court order to clear the property.

The South Side two-flat is boarded up now, home only to the rodents and roaches left behind. Those panels hide the garbage that built up in the home for years.

It might be tough to understand how someone could live like this, but as CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports, it's actually a disorder.

Dr. Pat McGrath, of Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital, is an expert in hoarding.

"What will happen sometimes is that people will have so much stuff in their home that it starts to get unsteady, and if they bump it the wrong way, it collapses on them," said Dr. McGrath. "It has killed people in the past, actually." ..."
More & video

May 26, 2010: Man, Woman Found Living Under Mounds Of Trash

An elderly couple is hospitalized in intensive care Tuesday hanging on to life, after being rescued from their own home.

Police say they were trapped in their own garbage for days, possibly weeks. There are reports they were covered in rodent bites and both were in critical condition when taken to the hospital. It was so severe that firefighters had to don hazmat suits before they could go inside the home in the South Side's Grand Crossing neighborhood.

On Tuesday morning, the stench was still in the air outside the home, at 1508 E. 69th St., from which the couple was removed Monday.

Jesse Gaston, 75, and his wife Thelma, 79, are described as quiet, pleasant and well-liked. She would sing Gospel songs outside her window every Sunday. When her voice went silent, neighbors knew something was very wrong..."
More & video

Animal hoarding called a gathering crisis


The Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire assisted in 11 animal hoarding cases in the first four months of 2010, nearly triple the number of cases during the same period last year.

The seizure of 44 dogs from a 78-year-old Mont Vernon woman last month may have been the league's most high-profile case this year, but it has not been the largest -- far from it, in fact.
"A week or so before that, we had a case where we brought in 70 cats," said ARLNH's president, Caroline Boyd. "We've just had animals coming in huge numbers."

Boyd said she has seen a steady increase in animal-hoarding cases in just the last few years, rising from an average of four a year to 11 cases in 2009.

New Hampshire Federation of Humane Organizations

Boyd said she thinks that popular television shows on A&E and TLC may have raised the public's awareness about hoarding, leading to more complaints about animal mistreatment. The economy is also a likely culprit, Boyd said, since it has made caring for dozens of pets a heavy burden.

"With the economy tanking, people who were perhaps holding on are coming to the surface more because of evictions and having to move," Boyd said.

At the ARLNH, Maureen Prendergast is responsible for responding to hoarding cases and other complaints of animal cruelty. The shelter's animal-cruelty investigator since 2005, Prendergast said the ongoing recession has forced even the hoarders themselves to come forward for help.
"The money is not going as far as it was in years past, and some of these instances are folks who have asked for help, where maybe they wouldn't have because they thought that they were handling it OK," Prendergast said.

Most of the hoarding cases Prendergast sees involve cats, which require less attention and are more suited to the colony life of hoarding situations. Summer is typically the busiest time of year for Prendergast, with warmer weather allowing cats to roam -- and mate -- freely.
Being inundated by kittens -- Boyd calls summer the "kitten season" -- exacts a toll on the ARLNH and animal shelters everywhere. In 2009, the ARLNH spent more than $288,000 on its animal-cruelty program, a cost that included investigation, outreach, spaying, neutering and boarding costs.

The cost to process the animals involved in cruelty cases is also nearly double what the shelter spends on other animals. In 2009, the ARLNH spent an average of $718 for each of the 401 animals it took in from cruelty cases. By comparison, the shelter spent an average of $409 on non-cruelty cases.

Much of that cost comes from medical treatment and longer shelter stays because of time spent in quarantine. Some animals involved in hoarding cases may also have behavioral problems, which means they are more likely to remain in the shelter longer before being adopted.

At the ARLNH and other shelters, animal-cruelty investigators are working not only to respond to animal hoarding, but also to make sure that extreme cases don't happen in the first place.
Stephanie Frommer, animal-cruelty investigator at the Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey, said the key to her work is finding the hoarders and persuading them to get help.

"Hoarders by nature tend to be more isolated, so they don't have company over and they don't have parties," Frommer said. "People typically don't go into their houses, or wherever it is they're hoarding (the animals)."

Frommer said she gets worried when she doesn't get complaints about hoarding.
"I've had a somewhat nerve-wrackingly quiet winter for myself because I know that they're out there," Frommer said of hoarders. "It's just a matter of getting tipped off to them; that's the problem."

In Bedford, the ARLNH is also working to reach out to more hoarders, even though the shelter has experienced an unprecedented number of cases this year. For Boyd and Prendergast, persuading people to get help means convincing them that the shelter's top priority is helping the animals.

"I want people to know that they should be comfortable calling us. It's not that we're looking to get someone in trouble. We're not looking to make people's lives more difficult," Boyd said.
"We really just want to go in and help the animals and help people get out of the situation they're in." ..." More

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hoarding: From Disorganization to Disease

Walk into any basement in America and you're likely to find a room full of random objects like decades-old yearbooks, cassette and VHS tapes, and really anything else imaginable.

"People who hoard may assign a lot of value to these items," said Dr. Deirdre Petrich, who works as a therapist at the PsyCare in Austintown. "They don't view themselves as hoarders, typically."

In its simplest form, hoarding is classified as collecting too many items, difficulty getting rid of items, and problems with organization.

Dr. Petrich breaks down the difference between a true hoarder and someone who is just a pack rat. .."
More & video

APS Spearheads Hoarding Task Force

Monica Balderrama

Dozens of people in the El Paso community suffer from a dangerous, sometimes even deadly, form of self-neglect.

That's why a new task force was formed in the hopes to help people or families who are hoarders.

This year, hoarding contributed to the death of an elderly woman in Northeast El Paso.

On Feb. 23, a fire erupted inside her home. The accumulation of stuff inside prevented her from getting out and hurt rescue efforts by firefighters. This case is only one of many that urged Adult Protective Services officials to form a task force.

Currently, Adult Protective Services is working on five hoarding cases in El Paso, but experts say this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Felix Cabrera, APS Resource and External Relations Specialist, showed KFOX a few pictures taken inside a hoarder's house. By definition, hoarding is the excessive collection of things along with the inability to get rid of them. In all hoarding cases, a person's safety is compromised.

The hoarding task force began in March, a month after that elderly woman's death.

It includes representatives from other departments and agencies like police and code enforcement. But experts say they need the communiti's help as well..." More

Hoarding Problem at West Village Apartment

Tenants of one beautiful West Village building say they feel like hostages in their own homes because of what's going on inside this one apartment on the 3rd floor.

A Fox 5 camera went in that apartment recently. It turns out that a hoarder, a woman with obsessive compulsive disorder, according to court papers, took over the apartment of an elderly tenant, and filled it with junk.

Rotting food, and bags of soiled cat litter were hidden everywhere. The apartment had been like that since about 2004. The situation went on for years and ended up in court, Barbara Nevins Taylor reported.

Compulsive hoarding may affect up to 2 million people in the United States, according to Hartford Hospital. It is a common and potentially disabling problem, characterized by the accumulation of excessive clutter to the point that parts of one's home can no longer be used for their intended purpose..." More & video

ACTION ALERT: First Strike and You're Out: A Model Law

May 12, 2010: Bill to Create Online for Animal Abusers

The Senate Appropriations Committee has placed S.B. 1277 in a suspense file, meaning it could cost the state more than $150,000 and the committee will consider it later. It also means the bill will die unless it is affirmately released from the suspense file for further action...

...Last year Sen. Florez introduced a bill that would have strengthened judges' authority to keep convicted abusers away from animals, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. An online registry is certainly an alternative. .." More

Feb 19, 2010: Senate Bill No. 1277 (.pdf)

March 4th, 2010: A Special Message from California Senator Dean Florez

by Senator Dean Florez

As California's Senate Majority Leader, I take the job of protecting Californians and their animals very seriously. Experts have proven a strong correlation between violence against animals and incidents of domestic abuse. I believe we should have tough laws in place to protect both people and animals from violence.

That's why, last week, I was joined by the Animal Legal Defense Fund's Executive Director Stephen Wells in Sacramento to announce that I am sponsoring tough new legislation that will create a public registry for criminals convicted of felony animal abuse.

On the same day, ALDF launched its national campaign to push for animal abuser registries in all 50 states.
Contact your own legislator asking for animal abuser legislation where you live at ALDF's special website,

If someone has been convicted of animal cruelty, I believe they should be prohibited from owning any animals in the future. The animal abuser registry will be an effective tool in preventing ownership of animals by convicted animal abusers..."

Jun 13, 2009: Gov. Schwarzenegger Vetoes CA Bill to Limit Abusers' Access to Animals

Update October 12, 2009: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has, however, vetoed AB 243, a bill passed by the California legislature that would have banned ownership or possession of any animal for 5 years upon conviction of misdemeanor animal cruelty and 10 years for felony crimes against animals. Anyone caught owning or possessing an animal in violation of this would have been guilty of only a misdemeanor.

May 17, 2009: A Proposal for Mandatory Bans on Contact with Animals Following a Conviction for Animal Neglect or Cruelty

Currently, most states have no mandatory requirements keeping those who are convicted of animal abuse crimes away from animals following their convictions. This despite the fact that offenders have demonstrated, through their actions, their utter disregard for the welfare of animals, and that recidivism in some types of animal abuse cases can reach 100%.

Yet having an animal in one’s life is a privilege, not a right – and with that privilege comes certain responsibilities, including the responsibility of providing adequate care and otherwise not abusing or neglecting the animal. The Animal Legal Defense Fund's First Strike and You're Out law provides another tool to help combat animal neglect and cruelty by mandating that those who are convicted of a violation of their state animal protection laws are prohibited from owning or having contact with animals for a set period of time, ranging from five years for a first misdemeanor offense up to the lifetime of the offender following a second felony offense.

Enacting a First Strike and You're Out law in your state will help in the fight against animal neglect and cruelty by keeping offenders away from potential new animal victims, which would, for example, help stem the high rate of recidivism often associated with animal hoarding. This proposal will also help reduce the huge economic toll which repeat offenders impose on their communities – hoarding cases in particular are very costly, often requiring the cooperation of several local agencies.

First Strike and You're Out Law Highlights

  • Separates offenders from potential new victims
  • Will help to reduce future crimes against animals and save limited community resources
  • Those who have been convicted of animal neglect or cruelty have demonstrated, through their actions, their irresponsibility with animals. This justifies having a set period of time where they are not allowed contact with them.
  • Addresses high recidivism rates (near 100%) for certain offenders (i.e. animal hoarders)

How You Can Help

Animal Advocates:
Please contact your state legislators today and ask them to support a First Strike and You're Out law for those who are convicted of animal neglect or cruelty.

For more information on ALDF's model law, or for assistance in drafting a First Strike and You're Out law for your state, please download the following forms or contact

First Strike and You're Out Model Law: Information (PDF)
First Strike and You're Out Model Law: Text (PDF)

ALDF's complete model law collection can be found in the Resources section of our website..." More

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Alexandra Matthews, Ph.D.

What is Hoarding?

According to Frost and Hartl (1996) Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome consists of:

1. The acquisition of, and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value
2. Living spaces are sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed.
3. Significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding

Three Basic Components of Hoarding

Acquisition: Compulsive buying, acquiring free things.
Saving: Inability to discard anything.
Clutter: Clutter is the end result of acquisition and saving. It is a symptom of the disorder. Clutter is not the problem, so simply cleaning out the clutter/hoard will not solve the problem.

Hoarding can pose a health risk to the hoarder. It can also pose a public health risk due to infestation (rats, roaches), and a risk to public employees who sometimes must enter the home to help the resident.

Any item can be hoarded. Some of the most commonly hoarded items are animals, reading materials (books, newspapers, magazines), clothing, containers (bags, boxes, milk cartons, bottles, cans, etc.), mail, notes and lists, personal papers (old school papers, writing samples, etc.)

Hoarding is a brain disorder. Hoarding is genetic. It is not simply a bad habit that can be easily overcome.

Compulsive hoarding is most commonly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 18-42% of all OCD patients have hoarding and saving compulsions. However, 33% or hoarders do not have OCD.

Other mental disorders often co-occur with Compulsive Hoarding. Some of the most common are: Social Anxiety; Anxiety; Depression; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Impulse Control Disorders (compulsive shopping, gambling, etc.) stroke, neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s, etc.); eating disorders; Autistic Spectrum Disorders; mental retardation; schizophrenia; Tourette’s; compulsive hair pulling...."

Large Number of Animal Surrenders Increasing

By Mariana Hicks

The Nevada Humane Society says they are seeing an increase in people surrendering large numbers of animals at one time. In fact, they are still trying to find homes for five cats recently surrendered.

There have been two large number animal surrenders recently. One was in Sun Valley, the other in Cold Springs. Between the two, dozens of cats were turned in.

Click here to find out more!

It may start out as a hobby, having a few pets. But without warning, litters get out of control and owners are left feeling overwhelmed.

"You have a couple cats for instance,” Bobby Smith with Animal Control said. “They have kittens, you can't get rid of them, not sure how to get rid of them or find homes for them."

The Humane Society says it’s becoming more common lately.

"Cats in the case here can breed very quickly,” Lilli Walker said. “In the matter of a year, a couple of cats can turn into a basic hoarding situation and you have a number of cats."

The main difference between the two cases: the Sun Valley cats were well-cared for and socialized. Their owners just got in over their heads.

It was different for the animals from Cold Spring, who needed medical care. They either had respiratory illnesses or eye infections which caused blindness. There are two cats who have had both of their eyes removed. However, none of them were sick enough to be euthanized.

The owners will not face any charges.

Animal Control said they try to work with owners to get the pets taken care of.

"It doesn't always end in prosecution,” Smith said. “It depends on the situation. So it's a case-by-case basis and through investigation, we'll determine which way to do.”..." More & video

When Possessions Rule Your Life

by: Julia M. Klein

Not until my mother died last year, at 82, did I realize how much she had saved. Her attic, closets and drawers overflowed with Playbills and travel brochures; size two designer dresses from the 1960s; broken appliances; baby furniture; expense receipts and stock annual reports; scrapbooks and photo albums; magazines and newspaper clippings; and every letter, greeting card and announcement she had ever received. It was an embarrassment of riches—and of junk. My exasperation was tempered by a sudden realization: I was hoarding identical emblems of my past, from Playbills and newspaper clippings to ancient letters from almost-forgotten lovers.

So it was with both interest and trepidation that I picked up Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee’s new book, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. To my relief, I discovered that my mother and I were rank amateurs compared with the pseudonymous subjects of this book, who live among clutter so overwhelming that they scarcely have room to walk, or eat, or sleep. Before treatment, Irene mixed empty boxes, expired coupons and old newspapers with photographs of her children, important documents, even cash. Pamela tried to take care of 200 cats, filling her house with excrement. Ralph stockpiled rusty, broken objects and stacked moldy newspapers so high that they threatened to crush him.

Frost, professor of psychology at Smith College, and Steketee, professor and dean of the School of Social Work at Boston University, have been studying hoarding for nearly two decades and have developed a cognitive-behavioral approach to helping hard-case hoarders. But their book, with its insight into the magic and meaning of ordinary objects, speaks to the hoarder in all of us. I asked Frost to elaborate on some of their findings. (Read an excerpt from Stuff.)

Q. How did you first become interested in hoarding?

A. My interest began with a simple question from a student. We were discussing obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the student asked, “Why are there no studies of hoarding?” I couldn’t answer. So we placed an ad in the local newspaper looking for a “pack rat” to interview. We got more than 100 phone calls. I was hooked.

20 malnourished animals seized from condemned Auburn home

An Auburn mother and daughter may face multiple misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty after 19 malnourished cats were seized from the home they recently shared, according to the Finger Lakes SPCA.

Josh Crane, the chief law enforcement officer for the Auburn-based branch of the SPCA, said that one large-breed dog, 19 live cats and two dead cats were found Friday amid a horrible stench of urine, feces and garbage at 48 Burt Ave., Auburn.

Crane said that Carol Walker and her daughter Michelle Davis had been living at the home until mid-April when the Auburn Code Enforcement Office condemned the building as uninhabitable. Crane said that the SPCA secured a warrant Friday to search the house after a caller to the SPCA this week reported that the building was full of animals.

Crane said that three investigators, three animal shelter employees, a veterinarian and a city code enforcement officer went to the home Friday to take the animals into custody. Crane said that everyone entering the home wore masks and that they rotated in and out quickly because of the overwhelming stench inside the building.

Neighbors told investigators that Walker and Davis had been at the house Friday morning, but Crane said that no one was there when his team arrived Friday afternoon.

The animals were checked by a veterinarian, Crane said, and all were underweight and malnourished. A health screening chart placed many of the cats "one notch above emaciation," Crane said.

Walker and Davis will likely be charged next week with several misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty as well as a violation charge for allegedly failing to provide shelter for the dog. The dog was found chained to a post in the backyard without food, water or shelter, Crane said..." More

75 animals seized from Leonard home

75 sick and emaciated animals were taken from a Fannin County property, Friday. Now four people are under arrest accused of animal cruelty.

Deputies arrested four individuals, at a home in Leonard, where emaciated and dead animals covered the property.

65 dogs and 10 cats were taken to the SPCA's facility in McKinney.

Deputies say it appears the individuals were staying in tents outside the home, because it was overrun with animal feces.

The location is believed to be the site of Vonda's Domestic Animal Rescue Emergency Shelter Services.

"It was a horrible situation for many of the animals," Maura Davies with the SPCA, said. "Many of the dogs had open sores, on various parts of their body. About half of the dogs were underweight. The cats were held in crates in the garage, small transport crates. And one cat was in a crate without food, water or a litter box."..." More & video

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hundreds of rats found in hoarding case

By Ashley Meeks

"I had no idea what I was getting into," Ernest "Gino" Jimenez said Thursday of his first rat-hoarding case in 14 years with Las Cruces animal control. "Never, and I hope to never see it again."

Inside the rented stucco house on the 4800 block of Camino dos Vidas, on the East Mesa, rat feces was "wall to wall" and covered the surface of the renter's bed, Jimenez said.

"The smell was overwhelming," said Jimenez, who did not see any human food in the home. "She did have some rat food, but they've got access to everything. They're eating cardboard, paper, stuffing out of the couches, I mean everything. ... You could see little bite marks on all the (bed) coverings."

Two skinny dogs and 176 red-eyed, Albino rats had been taken to the shelter by the end of the day Thursday, with at least that many still hiding in the home, Jimenez said. Officers also found the fur and skeleton remains of two dead dogs that were presumed to have been eaten by the rats, he said.

Debbie Martin, 55, a renter in the 4800 block of Camino dos Vidas, was criminally cited for excessive waste, improper care and maintenance of animals and dead animal removal. The three misdemeanors each carry a maximum fine of $500 or 90 days in jail.

The hundreds of large, feral rats removed from Martin's home all sprang from a single breeding pair within the last few months, said neighbor Chuck McReynolds.

"I helped her carry in some furniture in there three months ago and there was nothing..." More