Helping or Hoarding?

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Posted February 4, 2011 by Rachelle Owen

Many of us have had a peek into the bizarre world of hoarding courtesy of reality TV. Collecting piles and piles of household junk is bad enough, but when hoarders collect living animals, the results are extreme neglect, suffering, and death.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), “It is likely that up to a quarter million animals—250,000 per year—are victims of hoarders. What’s more, records kept by ALDF indicate that in the last four years, the number of reported hoarding cases has more than doubled.”

Alarmingly, as a result of public pressure to avoid euthanasia at all costs, the hoarding mentality has infiltrated animal reports that groups calling themselves “rescues” and “shelters” currently account for one-fourth of the estimated 6,000 new hoarding cases annually reported in the U.S. This is just one more way that trying to become “no-kill” before becoming “no-birth” hurts animals.

Cat suffering horribly at Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary.

No-kill shelters sentence animals to a life in prison.

When animal shelters and rescue groups—such as South Carolina’s terribly inaccurately named Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary—aren’t themselves hoarding animals, they sometimes farm out animals to anyone who will take them, including hoarders, in order to reduce the number of animals they euthanize.

Here are just two examples:

  • In December 2010, the New Jersey SPCA and police raided the home of so-called animal rescuer Dawn Scheld and seized nearly 60 dogs who were hoarded in reportedly “filthy” conditions on her property. According to news reports, “When agents arrived, most of the animals were living in their own waste, a number of them in outside pens with insufficient shelter, little evidence of food, and frozen water. Most were suffering from some kind of illness, and many were in serious condition ….” Scheld had acquired many of the dogs from animal shelters that hand over animals to anyone claiming to be a “rescue” in order to reduce their euthanasia statistics.
  • In September 2010, authorities raided an apartment rented by a foster caregiver for several Austin-area animal shelters and seized 78 cats. One-third of the cats were found dead in an unplugged refrigerator. The ironically named organization Austin Pets Alive! stated, “We have been informed by TLAC [Town Lake Animal Control] authorities that 5 of the 75 [sic] seized cats were originally saved by us from TLAC’s euthanasia list.” The hoarder had also adopted cats directly from TLAC.

Flooding left these dogs with nowhere to go.

No animal should ever have to live in conditions like this.

If you want to help keep animals out of hoarders’ hands, volunteer at your local shelter and note how the shelter screens potential fosters, placement partners, rescue groups and adopters. If something looks wrong, it probably is. Please also spay and neuter all your animal companions—it’s the only real way to prevent animals from being born only to end up homeless or hoarded.

Stay loud!



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  • 1954 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Thank you,PETA for publicizing this issue. I hope you will continue to do so.We are a nontraditional “rescue” group which provides low cost spay/neuter,education,and transportation for low income cat owners in Baltimore city and surrounding counties.We average close to 1000 cats a year,that we return to their owners”fixed”.They are more likely to stay in their homes and are healthier.I am quite familiar with the practices at BARCS, the semi private branch of the city shelter. She has for several years put out cats,kittens and dogs unaltered,and has farmed out huge numbers of cats to “rescue” groups and fosters and in addition solicits anyone to become a foster,all in the name of”rescue,no kill and adoption”.On several occasions the cats which I picked up for s/n came from BARCS,and fosters from BARCS (documented on the vaccination record of one FVRCP vaccine)and with the remark from the owner “they had lots of cats and the house really smelled and was filthy”.I have learned a lot about the practices of rescue groups and the perpetuation and exploitation of overpopulation by these groups.Unfortunately there are no standards, no oversight and they are getting away with murder,and a brainwashed public loves it because it wants “NOTHING KILLED”,while millions suffer, are killed and die outdoors! ALL SPAY/NEUTER HAS TO COME BEFORE NO KILL! Educate yourself,help someone get her cat fixed who is low income,become a spay/neuter fanatic,don’t be a “rescue,no kill,adoption” fanatic—it’s killing and producing millions more who will have to suffer”. Rose Bauman “THE EDUCATED CAT INC.”

  • 1964 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    I think many hoarders start off with good intentions but it just gets out of hand.

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