Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My opinion: My Reality

In keeping with the new format of this blog, belo
w is my first original article. I look forward to your feedback and comments.


Recently I was asked, "How many animals do you have?"

Four. Four dogs.

They jokingly responded, "Then you're a hoarder!"

Oh, it is so easy to judge others when you don't know the reality.

The simple facts are I have two other people in the house that physically help, and I can financially afford (and do) take care of them. I love animals and I know my limits.

Right now I "want" a cat. Having a cat in our small house with our existing pack would be an emotional mistake.

Why emotional but not financial? Financially there is enough money coming in, but emotionally it would take a toll on the family. First we would have to find a cat that is comfortable around dogs, but considering the amount of adult cats available that is the least of our worries. The big emotional toll on the family would come from acclimating the dogs to a new member.

Here is the condensed version of adding a foster dog to the home: off-property we introduce each dog to the new one, and about an hour later the new dog is brought inside and placed in a kennel. This process allows the existing dogs to realize the new dog is not a threat and the new dog is allowed to learn the rhythms of the home without fear of attack. These are dogs; you can't exactly talk them thru the process. At the end of two weeks the new dog can begin to interact with the others.

Now imagine doing that with a cat that can climb, jump and scratch they heck out of you, your house and your dogs. Then let's consider the daily stress of running, barking, hissing, peeing and separating the house into cat and dog areas. The amount of time alone is a huge investment, and the emotional toll of all this juggling is too much for me to put upon myself or my family.

No cat. Not now.

Hoarders don't have such limits, they are driven by compulsions. They can't say no and they don't see what is so very clear to others e.g. the smell, the insect infestation, fecal and urine build-up and most of all unaddressed medical issues. They will often answer ads for free animals, go to their local shelter, pick up strays, or even steal a dog from someone else.

So what does someone do when your heartstrings are being pulled to "save just one more"? I network, I promote animal adoption, I physically volunteer during my free time with rescues as well as an organization that offers free spay/neuter services.

I can't help anyone or anything if I'm physically, emotionally or financially drained. And I can't expect my family or my pack to bear that burden either. I am not willing to sacrifice the level of care and the quality of their care to "save one more."

I want to save them all too. But I can't and you can't either.

Any good rescuer knows how and when to say "no." They don't want to; they may cry and be depressed for days on end. But they know they can't save them all, no matter how much they want to. I have one friend who transports hundreds of dogs every year from high-kill shelters to no-kill shelters. I recently asked her, "How do you stand going into the shelter every week?" She replied, "I learned long ago that I couldn't handle it. Now I have the volunteers take the animals to my truck." She knows her emotional limits, and works around them. Imagine if she didn't: hundreds of animals would be killed because she was unable to emotionally handle going to the kill-shelters.

If you can accept that and the pain that goes along with it, you are not a hoarder. A hoarder will try to save them all; they are willing to suffer, and allow those around them to also suffer for that "one more." I accept my limitations; a hoarder cannot, possibly because of underlying mental issues.

I'm not cruel. I'm just honest: honest with my reality and how it could easily be affected by bad choices.

What is your reality?

For more information on hoarding and its related mental illnesses please visit:

Animal Hoarding: Alone in a Crowded Room
Animal Hoarding News & Info
Hoarding Animal Research Consortium
A personal account of how animal hoarding broke up a marriage:  here
Dogged Writer: A story of a rescue hoarder

Sunday, August 14, 2011

City Takes Over Cat Corpse House Cleanup

MINNEAPOLIS - Neighbors say a smelly scourge has turned into the hoarding house from hell now that the contractor hired to clean rotting cat corpses has been fired and the city is managing the cleanup.

Earlier in the week, FOX 9 News went to the Sheridan neighborhood, where neighbors were fed up with the stench of death emanating from a condemned house on Sixth Street belonging to a 90-year-old woman who hoarded cats.

The home was boarded up in May, and all utilities have been cut off for months, yet there are still living cats trapped inside the home.

On Wednesday, the homeowner’s daughter hired a contractor to clean the mess, but fired that contractor on Thursday. Neighbors say the firing followed a dispute between cleaning and trash removal..." More


"Taking care of animals gives me a purpose, and if I didn't have them, I don't know what I would do." That's what many say when asked why they live with an overwhelming amount of animals -- dozens of cats, kennels of dogs, hundreds of birds, and even fists full of snakes (some dangerous, some not). Their intentions are well meaning, but all too often, the results are disastrous as they lose control of sanitary conditions and alienate their loved ones and other human contact.

On Wednesday, August 24, at 10 PM (ET/PT), Animal Planet brings back the heart-breaking and gut-wrenching seriesCONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING. Each of the 12 new episodes reveals the sad reality of animal hoarding, a condition defined as the compulsive need to possess and control an unmanageable number of animals.

Before the new season unfolds, Animal Planet checks back in with six people whose stories were told in the previous season. On August 17, from 9-11 PM (ET/PT), CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING REVISTED explores what's happened to these six individuals and their animals since the cameras left. Do these stories have triumphant endings, or are the situations getting worse?

Animal hoarding is unhealthy and deeply unfortunate for the hoarders, their family members and the reported 250,000 pets hoarded annually. In the series, Animal Planet intervenes with the support of therapists, family members, friends and welfare advocates - trying to give people and animals a second lease on life..." More

Largest National Case of Animal Hoarding Highlights Problem

(see story, pics & video regarding this commentary: here

Kimberly Morgan

COMMENTARY | Vets at the University of Florida, who have been caring for approximately just under 700 cats seized by authorities in early June, now say nearly all of the animals are ready for adoption -- a massive undertaking from the moment they were rescued, spayed and neutered, treated for infection and disease, and housed in a warehouse, where they waited until Alachua County animal services made room for them, reports the Gainesville Sun. This case is the single largest case of animal hoarding on record in the country.

That those doing the cat collecting label the place a "sanctuary" only thinly disguises its actual purpose: to provide a sick person the excuse to collect hundreds of animals, most of whom needed - and did not get - adequate nutrition or healthcare.

Such is the case with many "rescues" and "havens" and "centers" which simply provide a sick person with the excuse to validate their mental illness.

While it's true that many legitimate rescue organizations exist, and do much good for the unwanted and homeless animals in our country, many others exist because they afford a hoarders a good cover.

Kill them With Kindness

Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President, calls it like he sees it. "Historically, a person who collected animals was viewed as an animal lover who got in over his or her head, but the truth is that people who hoard are experiencing a total loss of insight," says Lockwood. The person doing the collecting doesn't see their sickness, or the abuse. In their minds, other people abuse animals, and they rescue them.

Instead, many homeless animals get a prison in which the warden is completely blind to the suffering they're causing. Too many animals end up in the hands of Florida hoarders and "shelters" - only to suffer at their hands.

If there aren't homes for them, and if there's no place for them, it's better for them to be humanelyeuthanized than to starve, or to be eaten alive by ticks and fleas, left to sleep in their own feces.

Too Legit to Quit? Look Closely.

According to the ASPCA site, many hoarders set themselves up with non-for-profit status.

Such was the case with Haven Acres, which, according to their website, was home to "200 cats, a dog, several horses, and some roosters." Oh, and they were granted 501(c)(3) status in 2005.

How did it turn from a noble gesture to the largest case of hoarding in U.S. history? Things got a little out of hand. It probably happened because, as Haven Acres says on its website, "Since its inception, no cat that has needed help has been turned away."

That, and there's a big difference between 200 and 700 cats.

Why? According to the website, the owners were "concerned about the high euthanasia rate at Animal Services." Sound familiar? This is the facility currently housing the seized cats. One wonders how they were able to make room to accommodate those additional 600 cats.

RescueShelter.com lists around 60 cat rescue groups for Florida alone.

So, how do you know when someone has crossed the line from loving animal rescuer to someone requiring the intervention of authorities?

The Tufts University Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium put it best: "Any legitimate shelter, rescue or sanctuary puts the needs of the animals first, recognizes when capacity to provide care is exceeded, and takes the required steps (stopping intake, increasing adoption, increasing staff or resources) in order to provide proper care."

Florida needs to support those shelters that offer legitimate shelter and succor to homeless animals. Pet owners need to look more closely at those organizations to which they give their money - and to those animals for which they can no longer care.

The adoption of the nearly 600 cats seized in this single case will be available for adoption August 26-18. Hoarders need not apply..." Link

More than 60 cats found in suspected Greeley hoarding case

Police found more than 60 cats at the home of a Greeley man in his 80s.

Of those cats, 23 had to be euthanized, according to the Weld County Humane Society. This case marks the sixth hoarder they've dealt with in the past year and a half.

Greeley police say a man in his 80s lived alone with the cats. When police arrived, he told them he thought he only had about 15 or 20 cats.

Elaine Hicks of the Weld County Humane Society says it appears inbreeding happened with the cats and that many of them are sick. The influx of cats has filled every cage in the Humane Society, she said..." More

Animal case under investigation: No arrest yet for SPCA employee accused of hoarding animals

By Tim Hudson

Osage County officials say they are still investigating what is being called an “animal hoarding” case involving a reported Washington County SPCA employee.

According to Osage County Undersheriff Lou Ann Brown, the sheriff’s office still has an open case involving Cheryl Jackson.

Reportedly, Jackson is currently an employee of the local SPCA.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with Bartlesville Police Department officers, raided Jackson’s home in rural Osage County on Aug. 2.

At that time, a total of 81 dogs and cats were seized..."

Animal shelter inspections not required in Ohio

By Cornelius Frolik

Local officials said the recent removal of more than 650 dogs and cats from rescue shelters in Huber Heights, Bethel Twp. and Piqua because of poor living conditions and neglect highlight a loophole in Ohio law that does not require shelters to be inspected.

Animal advocates and officials said that even shelter operators with the best intentions can accept too many animals and become overwhelmed, which can result in the animals suffering serious neglect.

“Other states have some stringent inspection requirements,” said Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. “We don’t have those here in Ohio.”

In another neglect case, a few of the 50 exotic birds found at a home in Troy are being cared for on the property by the Miami County Humane Society. Officials said charges could result from their ongoing investigation.

On Wednesday, officers with the Animal Resource Center executed a search warrant at Circle of Love animal rescue shelter at 6721 Spokane Drive in Huber Heights after complaints about the smell and noise coming from the home.

Officers seized 85 cats and 46 dogs from the residence, some of which had fleas, skin problems, ringworm, upper respiratory infections and feline herpes virus, Kumpf said.

Circle of Love, incorporated at the Huber Heights address in 2008, is a nonprofit that adopted out about 200 animals a year, the owners said. It had a commercial kennel license from the county, but the city prohibits such businesses from operating in residential neighborhoods..." More

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Animal hoarding part of 'vicious' cycle

Local animal rescuers fear there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pets in Cherokee County housed in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions, and fighting the trend often seems impossible.

Animal hoarding seems to be a growing problem in the U.S., and when the economy tanks, more people give their pets the boot because they can no longer afford to care for them.

Humane Society of Cherokee County board member Lou Hays said animal hoarding is part of a "vicious cycle," one that's especially prevalent in this area.

"I think animal hoarders slowly get into it," said Hays. "They often take in animals that wander up or get dropped off, but they are not willing or able to spay or neuter these pets. Hoarders almost always live in the county, and they usually love the dogs, and want to keep them." Having a dog spayed or neutered can typically cost from $50 and up, Hays said. Without that procedure, animals begin mating, and the population quickly grows..." More

60 animals seized from pet hoarder

By Rochelle Baker

Abbotsford SPCA and police officers seized 57 cats, three dogs and two birds from an elderly woman's home on Baldwin Road last week.

Marcie Moriarty, SPCA manager of cruelty investigations, said pet hoarding is not uncommon, and the home and animals were in poor condition.

"We see [hoarding] all the time. It's not an intention to be cruel to the animals, but the fact remains, great harm can be done."

The house was full of cat feces, urine and pet food, deemed uninhabitable and later condemned, she said. The cats were suffering from mites and scabby ears and some had severe dental disease. The situation, as in many cases, is very sad, said Moriarty.

The 65-year-old woman voluntarily surrendered her animals because she knew it was the best thing to do, but she was traumatized...." More

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surviving a Filthy Childhood: Jessie Sholl, Daughter of Hoarder, Comes Clean


When Jessie Sholl visits her childhood home in Minneapolis, Minn., she doesn't actually go inside. In fact, she never even makes it past the front steps.

"I feel nervous right now," she told "20/20" as she stood by the house's front door recently. "My muscles are a little bit tense, like I need to be prepared to possibly run."

Sholl, 42, was there to visit her mother, who is a hoarder. A psychological disorder, hoarding is characterized by the excessive collection of items paired with the inability to throw things out as well as problems with organization. It is considered both prevalent and difficult to treat. According to Dr. Randy Frost, author of "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things," there are an estimated 6 million to 15 million hoarders in the U.S.

But it's not only victims of the disorder who are affected, it's their children, too..." More

Nearly 100 live, dead birds inside Troy home

By Lucas Sullivan

Animal rights groups are asking for help to rescue as many as 60 exotic birds they say are starving to death inside a condemned Troy home, a case of animal hoarding a local veterinarian said is the “most horrific” display of animal cruelty he’s seen.

Daniel Brauer, of Dayton South Veterinary Clinic, said the home’s owner, Doug Ratcliff gave him permission to remove 10 Macaw, Cockatoo and African Grey parrots from his home that were starving and in need of medical treatment.

Brauer said his employees discovered as many as 30 dead birds in and around the home at 2063 W. Ohio 55 in Troy. Workers who rescued the birds said feces and raw peanuts covered the floor of the entire house, and there are physical signs birds were destroying each other.

Ratcliff would not comment, only to say Brauer’s group “stole” his birds. Brauer’s office produced a document signed by Ratcliff on Aug. 3 that gave them permission to remove 10 birds from the home.

“I was horrified by what I saw,” said veterinary technician Jim Tinnell, who claims he convinced Ratcliff to let him remove 10 birds from the home that could be saved. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 40 years of caring for animals.”

Brauer said members of the Miami Valley Bird Club were notified weeks ago that about 100 birds were inside Ratcliff’s home, which had been condemned for some time. Ratcliff left the home because of health complications, but was still purchasing the birds at local auctions, club members and veterinary workers said..." More & photos

Friday, August 5, 2011

Animal hoarding part of ‘vicious’ cycle

What often begins as an attempt to save stray animals can quickly become a problem for both humans and pets.


Local animal rescuers fear there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pets in Cherokee County housed in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions, and fighting the trend often seems impossible.

Animal hoarding seems to be a growing problem in the U.S., and when the economy tanks, more people give their pets the boot because they can no longer afford to care for them.

Humane Society of Cherokee County board member Lou Hays said animal hoarding is part of a “vicious cycle,” one that’s especially prevalent in this area.

“I think animal hoarders slowly get into it,” said Hays. “They often take in animals that wander up or get dropped off, but they are not willing or able to spay or neuter these pets. Hoarders almost always live in the county, and they usually love the dogs, and want to keep them.”.." More

Hoarder's Children Speak Out

VIDEO: ABC News 20/20

12 Cats Recovered from Albuquerque Trailer

The Animal Welfare Department recovered 12 cats from a trailer in another cat-hoarding incident Thursday afternoon near Unser and Gibson boulevards.

Officials arrived at the home of Steven Boyd after emergency medical personnel were called to help his injured wife. Upon noticing the living conditions of the Boyds and their animals, they called the proper authorities.

“There was debris through out the entire home. It made it very difficult to walk through the home because there was items and debris piled through out the entire home from the floor to the ceiling in some spots. There was also cat feces and urine through out the inside of the home as well,” Lt. Martinez said.

Martinez said the cats looked “extremely skinny” and most had upper respiratory problems..." More

NM hoarding case under investigation

ALBUQUERQUE - The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department is investigating another case of cat hoarding.

Officials were called out to the home on Camino Bello Thursday after someone reported seeing mutilated cats at the home.

When deputies went inside they say they found a dozen cats and a man living in absolute filth.

Authorities said there was no air conditioning, piles of feces and bottles and cups of urine, and piles of boxes, and other belongings..."

70 animals seized from Raleigh home

Seventy animals were seized from a Raleigh home on Thursday afternoon.

Wake County Animal Shelter Foster and Rescue Coordinator Joanne Duda said the 67 dogs seized from 6608 Professor St. were kept in cages, sometimes two or three at a time, and appeared neglected.

Some dogs had medical problems, including tumors, cancer and open sores, and others were so obese they could not stand on their own.

Duda said the dog owners appeared to be breeders.

Acting on a tip, Raleigh Police's Animal Control Unit responded to the home at 9 a.m. and returned in the afternoon to collect the animals.

Police said 51 dogs were surrendered and 16 dogs and three cats were being held in protective custody..." More & video

photo: Greg Clark

Severely mistreated animals seized in Tyler

TYLER, TX - They were hungry and mistreated, but now, several animals are safe. On Friday, SPCA workers rescued the animals from a pasture off FM 2016 in Northwest Tyler.

After receiving a call about some emaciated animals, Deborah Dobbs of the SPCA came to check things out.

She found miniature ponies and donkeys with severely overgrown hooves, making it difficult for the animals to walk. When inspecting further, Dobbs found a severely emaciated mare.

The SPCA says the rest of the animals were thin but not critically underweight. "It does appear that these animals are being fed on a semi-regular basis," Dobbs said. After alerting the owners, the SPCA got a warrant to take the animals. But when workers came out to take them, something had changed. "Apparently in the mean time they've came out and done some work on the hooves and removed the mare. We don't know where she is, but we're going to try and check on her welfare," Dobbs said..." More


CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE -- It's a heartbreaking case out of Cape May County, where the lives of dozens of dogs at an animal shelter are now in jeopardy as the result of a months-long animal hoarding case. Officials at the shelter and with the SPCA say the situation is critical, and cannot be avoided any longer.

It's a nearly nine-month-old case that comes with a hefty price tag. Almost 60 dogs seized from a Middle Township home back in December are now jeopardizing the lives of other shelter dogs.

"Everyday the dogs here at the shelter are in danger," said Judy Davies-Donhour, who works at the Cape May County animal shelter. "Tomorrow we could get dogs in, we need to make space. We need to euthanize to accommodate them."

It's something Davies-Dunhour can barely fathom and something she's trying to prevent, after the disturbing discovery back in December landed 13 dogs in the shelter, eight of which still remain. "We cannot put them up for adoption because technically they still belong to the defendant. It's extremely frustrating because they are high adoptable animals and we have people come in everyday looking for small dogs and pure bred dogs and that's what these are," she added.

They are now healthy dogs essentially brought back to life after they were seized from the Scheld family home. Each one was treated for parasites and worms after living in the unsanitary conditions, but the treatment and care has been costly. The eight dogs have a running tab of up to $25,000 at this shelter alone. Officials with the SPCA tell NBC 40 that the cost of of them, in addition to the other dogs, which have been scattered to shelters across the state, could total to $100,000..."

Fairgrounds Housing Exotic Birds, Monkeys After Rescues

By Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – They are beautiful creatures that officials said were abused by their owners.

"The conditions these monkeys were living in were absolutely atrocious and unacceptable," Scotlund Haisley said Friday at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

The Animal Rescue Corps seized them from a Shelbyville home Thursday after one escaped, attacked and seriously wounded a neighbor and sheriff's deputy, before being shot and killed.

Haisley said they were basically left to rot.

"The minute you put a wild animal in a cage it is an inhumane act," he said.

Inside an un-air conditioned shed they found the monkeys crammed into crates, a bird cage and a raccoon trap with no access to food or water, with no security to speak of.

"Before we could even start approaching to rescue these animals we had to identify ways to secure their cages just so we didn't put our own lives at threat," said Haisley.

Charges in the investigation are still pending..." More & video

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From the blog: Cantankerous Old Fart

Animal Hoarding Rears Its Ugly Head Again

I have stayed away from this subject for a while, mostly because rehashing it is a painful experience for me, but recent news stories about the return of animals that were seized because of poor care and poor conditions has brought the subject to the forefront of my thoughts again.

Granted I do not know all of the details of this specific situation. What I do know is limited to what has been released in the media, and I do not delude myself that this coverage is even close to being balanced. That being said, there is not a doubt in my mind that the people that owned these animals that were seized never intended anything but the best for these animals. I know that there are many readers who will rail against this statement, asking how it is someone could care so much for animals yet let them die, starve, get sick, and live in horrible conditions. If you are relatively new to this blog please understand that I don't support this behaviour, but I do have a perspective that many individuals do not.

People, for the most part, do not own livestock because they want to be cruel to it. They own livestock because they have a love for the animals. It is easy to justify building up a large herd of animals justifying not reducing the herd size because prices aren't right or they are good for breeding stock, or any of dozens of other reasons. I herd all of these excuses from my partner as our horse herd grew out of control.

It is also easy for these people to draw friends and family into their beliefs, not because these people are so influential, but because they so strongly believe their l line of thought that they find ways to convince those around them of the same. Those they can't convince they simply erase from their lives. In my situation friends, family, and neighbours were all alienated.

Despite the good intentions towards the animals in their care problems inevitably arise. The animals reproduce creating more mouths to feed. Feed costs money. Lot's of money. Health care costs money. Shelter costs money. Unless they win the lottery something has to give. The unfortunate thing is these individuals believe so strongly they are doing the right thing that they will beg, borrow, and steal to just hold on a little while longer. They would rather take a chance on loosing their car, or their home, or more just to hang on to their animals. Meanwhile they justify in their own minds the decreasing level of care their animals are receiving and the decreasing condition of their animals..." More

Animals seized from pet hoarder

By Neil Corbett

SPCA investigators worked into Wednesday's early morning hours catching and processing numerous animals seized from a "hoarding situation" on Baldwin Road in Abbotsford.

The final tally of animals seized was 57 cats, three dogs and two birds, in one of the largest SPCA seizures in Abbotsford in recent memory.

Marcy Moriarty, the SPCA manager of cruelty investigations, said the animals all met the criteria for seizure, being "in distress."

The house was deemed to be not suitable for occupancy, and was wrapped by police tape on Wednesday.

She called it "a classic case of hoarding" animals.

Moriarty said the occupant, a 65-year-old woman, even though she is apparently an animal lover, may face animal cruelty charges. The agency is still investigating...." More

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Arrested again, Holiday Christie says animals are her 'babies'

Written by
Nick McGurk

Holiday Christie, a woman accused of animal cruelty who had jumped bond last week, showed up in Fort Collins Tuesday to get her animals back - but was arrested instead.
Christie is facing 19 animal abuse charges after deputies found more than 20 animals in her U-Haul trailer in sweltering heat roughly two weeks ago.
Originally, Christie bonded out and wasn't supposed to leave the state. She then jumped bond for Texas.
Christie was talking to 9NEWS' partners at the Fort Collins Coloradoan on Tuesday, when she explained how much she loved the animals. She said she went to Texas to get them better transportation.
That explanation didn't prevent the second arrest..."  More & video