Hoarding >> Animal Hoarders

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: THE HORRORS OF ANIMAL HOARDERS By Rebecca Simmons To someone desperate to find a home for a litter of kittens, the Chubbers Animal Rescue would have appeared to be the perfect haven. Nestled in a wooded lot in Caroline County, Maryland, the former home of Linda Farve and Ernie Mills was a place where people could relinquish cats, seemingly secure in the knowledge that the couple would Animal Hoarders help the animals find happy homes. 

But in reality, behind the facade of the cheerful website Animal Hoarders and rural home, tragedy lurked. When animal control officers and volunteers from the Caroline County Humane Society and The Humane Society of the United States entered the home on May 1, 2003 they found more than 300 cats, including more than 70 felines in various forms of decomposition. 

If the smell of animal death weren't enough, volunteers also encountered surfaces covered with inches of waste and Animal Hoarders garbage. "In one part of the house, we were stepping on several layers of feces and skeletons," says The HSUS's Krista Hughes, one of the volunteers who served as part of a team to document the situation and rescue the cats.

 "It was disgusting. The amount of filth was unbelievable." It didn't start out that way. Several years earlier, the Humane Society of Caroline County had visited the Favre/Mills home and approved Chubbers as a legitimate animal rescue organization. Soon afterward, Animal Hoarders the couple began accepting and, in some cases, actively seeking out cats from around the East Coast. 

It wasn't long before the number of cats began to multiply, as this horrific case of animal hoarders unfolded. A Deadly Obsession For most people, the term "animal hoarders" conjures up images of an eccentric "cat lady." Despite the stereotype that collecting animals is simply a quirky behavior, Animal Hoarders recent research has pointed to a direct correlation between psychological problems and the tendency to animal hoarders. 

"Animal hoarders is very often a symptom of a greater mental illness, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. For most animal hoarders, it is likely that their actions are the result of a true pathology, Animal Hoarders even though they are still usually able to function quite well in society," says Randall Lockwood, HSUS vice president for Research and Educational Outreach. 

Because animal hoarders quite often appear to lead normal lives, Animal Hoarders it's important to recognize when a person's fixation with animals has gotten out of control. The HSUS defines an animal hoarders as a person who has more animals than he or she can properly care for. Another defining characteristic is the animal hoarder's denial of his inability to care for the animals and his failure to grasp the impact his neglect has on the animals, the household, and the human occupants of the dwelling. 

What's more, animal hoarders are usually well-educated and possess excellent communication skills. Many animal hoarders have an uncanny ability to attract sympathy for themselves, Animal Hoarders no matter how abused their animals may be, which is often how animal hoarders manage to fool others into thinking the situation is under control. 

"Very few animal hoarders cases simply involve good intentions gone awry, despite the insistence of the animal hoarders that he or she loves the animals and wants to save their lives," says Lockwood. "It's unbelievable how someone who reports to love animals so much can cause so much suffering." House of Horrors For many involved in investigating animal cruelty and Animal Hoarders neglect, animal hoarders cases are among the most horrific they ever encounter. 

"The amount of suffering in a animal hoarders case is more widespread and Animal Hoarders of a longer duration than most animal cruelty cases," says Lockwood. "Although the case of a dog being violently killed is shocking, in a animal hoarders case the suffering can be felt by hundreds of animals for months and months on end." 

Indeed, animal hoarders can have serious repercussions for the animals involved. "Animal hoarders can often amount to physical, medical and physiological neglect in the extreme," says Lockwood. The unsanitary conditions of the dwelling and Animal Hoarders lack of veterinary treatment and social interaction for animals all add up to serious neglect. 

The animals involved often endure a variety of ailments, such as malnutrition, parasitic infestation, infection, and disease. According to the Animal hoarders of Animals Research Consortium, Animal Hoarders many animal hoarders dwellings have been condemned as unfit for human habitation. Polluted air in some homes is so irritating to the respiratory tract, because of the high level of ammonia present, that a visitor cannot enter without protective breathing apparatus. 

Long-Term Solutions Because of the horrible suffering involved, criminal animal cruelty charges are increasingly being filed in animal hoarders cases. Yet, because animal hoarders is linked to mental illness, the most appropriate resolution is still being debated. A combination of therapy and long-term monitoring is the often the best approach, Animal Hoarders in part because of the high recidivism rate. 

(Most animal hoarders revert to old behaviors unless they receive ongoing mental health assistance and monitoring.) Jail time may also be appropriate in some animal hoarders cases, although, according to Ann Chynoweth, counsel to Investigative Services for The HSUS, it's uncommon for criminal charges to be brought against animal hoarders, Animal Hoarders and even more uncommon that those charged receive jail time. 

The Caroline County case was unusual in this respect. Both Mills and Farve were sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years probation after pleading guilty to three and four counts respectively of felony animal cruelty, Animal Hoarders yet they were scheduled to receive a mental evaluation only as an afterthought. "We are pleased that Maryland's felony animal cruelty law was meaningfully enforced in this massive case of animal cruelty, and we applaud the judge for acknowledging the severity of the crime," says Chynoweth. 

"At the same time, we are disappointed that there was not more attention to the need of psychological counseling in this case." Community members can make sure animal hoarders get the help they need, while protecting animals at the same time, Animal Hoarders by notifying local police and/or animal control if they suspect someone is animal hoarders animals. 

In addition, as a basic precaution, anyone who is considering relinquishing an animal to a private rescue group should first visit the premises and ask to see where the animals are kept. It's vital that people work together to stop animal hoarders. As the Caroline County case and Animal Hoarders recent studies illustrate, good intentions aren't always enough. It really does seem possible to love animals to death.

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