Animal Hoarding: January Round-up

In a previous post, we talked about a local animal hoarding clean up job we did in New Jersey. We also reported some statistics:
• Every year 3,500 animal hoarders come to the attention of authorities.
• At least 250,000 animals are affected each year.
Because we’re animal lovers ourselves (although severe allergies prevent us from having pets) it was hard for us to believe the statistics. We were skeptical that there could be so many animal hoarding situations occurring in the United States every year.
So we did a little digging. What we found were 11 reports of animal hoarding in the news in the three weeks from January 1 to January 24. The stories tell the sad tale of more than 568 animals of all kinds – even alpacas and zebras! – being abused unintentionally by neglect in 8 different states.
If any of these stories tug on your heart strings the way they do ours, and you decide to help, we’ve provided links to the organizations directly involved in helping these animals.

 1. Area shelters helping rescue dogs in hoarding situation – Southern Illinois

January 2, 2015
Houghton rescued Pork Chop and two other dogs last week from a property in southern Illinois where an elderly owner had amassed more than 150 dogs.
According to Houghton, the dogs were being fed but weren’t receiving the appropriate level of care and attention. He said the elderly female property owner, who is now in a nursing home, had become overwhelmed.
Sherry Klemme, Hoopeston’s animal-control officer, said there is no animal control in that area, and the woman’s property had served as a sanctuary for surrendered and abandoned dogs. But as the woman’s health declined, she couldn’t keep up.
Shelters across the state, including the Champaign County Humane Society and Iroquois County Animal Rescue, have also made trips there to rescue dogs since the Illinois Department of Agriculture and animal-rescue officials in southern Illinois stepped in to address the situation in December. Houghton said for anyone considering adopting a large dog right now — whether it’s one of these three, one from the Humane Society or one from other shelters — now is the time.

2. More than a dozen dead cats found in deceased woman’s home – Ohio

January 7, 2015
More than a dozen dead cats and seven live ones were found in the feces filled home after officers were requested to check on the 78 year old resident. Deputies knocked on the door, but there was no answer. They went around the house, looked through a window and found the woman laying on the floor.
Nancy Chicotel, the head of the Huron County Humane Society said since last summer, the woman had been trying to receive help for a hoarding problem.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, animal hoarding refers to the “compulsive need to collect and own animals for the sake of caring for them that results in accidental or unintentional neglect or abuse.” This sad story illustrates how the hoarder of animals falls victim to their good intentions and ends up emotionally overwhelmed, socially isolated and ultimately alienated from family and friends.

3. Hoarder has zebras, alpacasNew River, Arizona

January 8, 2015
The complaints from neighbors about extreme odor problem that had been filed over the past several weeks finally culminated in a search warrant served at the home of 61-year-old Andrea Rene Mikkel. More than 100 animals, including alpaca and zebras, were found roaming on the  property Monday afternoon.
Police spokesman Joaquin Enriquez “This is one of the worst cases (of animal hoarding) we’ve seen.” Authorities said there’s evidence the menagerie of animals had freely roamed into the house. “The house is completely covered in feces.”
In addition to the alpacas and zebras, deputies seized 15 birds, 16 cats, 11 dogs, a pig, a rabbit, two turkeys, a chicken and rooster, three pigeons, four miniature horses and two horses. Enriquez said the two zebras had to remain on the property due to their aggressive nature, and deputies were contacting wildlife experts for their removal. The seized animals were taken to a veterinarian for examination.
Mikkel was hospitalized after swallowing a soda can tab in an apparent suicide attempt while being questioned by deputies. Mikkel, vanished upon her release from a hospital, where she was treated overnight. Her friends are defending her ‘Noah’s Ark’ animal-hoarding behavior.
Friends said Mikkel was charitable and allowed people to drop off their animals when they could no longer care for them. She would also adopt animals if she found out they were in need of a home. “She was very dedicated to the animals. She couldn’t say no. She couldn’t turn them away. She just got in over her head.”
Unlike the other stories we found this month about hoarding, we found no information about where the animals have been taken so we can’t post the links for you to help in this case.

4. Three dozen dogs removed from hoarding situation in Hillsborough – Florida

January 12, 2015
Three dozen dogs were removed from a home in Hillsborough County on Monday.
The dogs, all small-breed, were found living in an apparent hoarding situation. They were taken to the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center to receive necessary medical attention and grooming.
The dogs’ owner died, leaving the dogs stranded in the home.
After receiving care, they will go up for adoption in the next few days. Call the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center for details at 813-744-5660.

 5. Area cat hoarder has history of harboring sick animalsWisconsin

January 15, 2015
A total of 42 sick cats were removed Friday, Jan. 2 from a feces-filled mobile home at W3198 Country Aire Drive outside Campbellsport. The 79-year-old owner, Bobbie Bruflat, was rescued and hospitalized after falling ill from diabetes complications.
Bruflat was trapped in the home and unable to move from her sofa for four days. She was surrounded by filth, cat feces and urine that covered the floor. The Fond du Lac County Health Department has since deemed the home uninhabitable.
A spokesperson at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee said Bruflat is no longer a patient there, but her location is unknown.
Most of the 42 cats removed from the mobile home suffer from urine burns, caused from living in feces and urine a foot thick on the floor of the trailer, said shelter manager Renee Webb. So far 15 of 42 cats removed Jan. 2 from a mobile home in the town of Ashford have been euthanized to end their suffering, said Fond du Lac Humane Society Shelter manager Renee Webb. The cats are being treated in a quarantined room at the shelter, with cost estimates for treatment already at $10,000.

6. PACC rescues 23 cats from animal hoarder, some available for adoption –  Arizona

January 15, 2015
Officers from the Pima Animal Care Center rescued 23 cats on Thursday from an animal hoarder living in a one-bedroom mobile home.
“The cats were living in unsanitary conditions with inadequate ventilation,” PACC Investigator Michael Eckelbarger said.
The cats were transferred to PACC’s Silverbell Road shelter were they are receiving medical attention. PACC says they are committed to saving as many of the cats as possible, although they do not know how many will be adoptable.
Of the 23 cats rescued, PACC staff have determined that about half are available for adoption. The remainder are too ill for adoption and are being treated. Shelter staff hope they will be available for adoption in a few weeks. Two of the 23 kittens had to be euthanized.

7. Dozens of animals rescued in Florence hoarding situation – Alabama

January 16, 2015
Authorities seized more than 40 cats, several dogs and chickens from a residence in Florence, Florida. The woman who hoarded the animals will face charges, but the team at the shelter is working hard to get both the hoarder and the animals help.
Shelter Director Vinny Grosso said “She did the best she could to take care of them. We could see that by the evidence of all the food that was there, tons and tons of empty cans. It was to the point where she can’t take care of them any more and the conditions were just deplorable. We had no choice but to step in and try to re-home these animals.”
They are asking for the community’s help to foster the animals because the shelter is full. If you want to help you’re asked to contact the shelter via Facebook or by phone at (256)-760-6676.
You can contact Pets Are Worth Saving, or PAWs, a local organization that has stepped in to assist with the rescue efforts.

 8. Twenty dogs rescued from hoarding house in Florida

January 19, 2015
Animal Rescue Foundation, or ARF, saved 20 dogs from a hoarding situation in the panhandle of Florida recently, and they’re nursing the animals back to health.
Because of their terrible living condition, the dogs have intestinal parasites, skin issues from fleas and heart worms. Others have more severe issues. The condition is very poor on most of them and they all need at least several hundred dollars medical treatment. Volunteers are working hard to get the dogs healthy and ready for adoption.
“Unfortunately hoarders, a lot of times, they think they’re rescuing or helping the dogs but she clearly had no way to actually care for the animals besides giving the basic need for food but not attending to any of their medical needs and they’re all in really rough shape,” Rellinger said.
ARF is looking for foster homes, volunteers to help with kennel cleaning, vet transports and donations for the animal care.

9. Thirty-eight Chihuahuas Rescued from Dog Hoarder, Local SPCA Says – Texas

January 19, 2015
The South Plains SPCA convinced a man to voluntarily give up 38 Chihuahua dogs on Friday. They said the man was hoarding dogs and had approximately 80 of them at his house.
“He signed over the rights to them,” said Cara Fetsch, Adoption Coordinator for the South Plains SPCA. “We got them all in on Friday night. We’ve had one adopted, but we have 37 more to go.”
Because they took in so many dogs in such a small window of time, Fetsch said they can use help in terms of people and things.
“That’s a lot to take on at one time, so we definitely need the monetary donations, as well as puppy food, puppy pads, toys for these little guys that, I mean, they don’t really know what toys are so they’re learning,” she said.
Monetary donations will go toward helping get the dogs ready to be adopted. “Once we step in, the most important thing we need is fosters and donations to cover getting all of these animals fixed, and their shots, micro-chipped. ” Fetsch said.
Anyone who can foster or permanently adopt a Chihuahua is asked to please email You can also see all of their available dogs here, on their Facebook page. On that page, you will also find more information about adoption events.

10. Woman confronts officer during hoarding investigation Tucson, Arizona

January 22, 2015
Pima Animal Care officers seized 38 dogs, 2 cats, 3 chickens and 1 rabbit from a home south of Tucson.
Debbie Tenkate is a field supervisor for Pima Animal Care. Tenkate said the animals were living in “deplorable” conditions. She said the animals were in cages made of chain-link fence, pallets and other materials. There were no doors on the pens.
“It tugs at your heart strings,” Tenkate said. “Because the dogs can’t talk for themselves.”
The hoarder is facing 7 charges of cruelty to animals, according to Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracy Suitt.

11. Suspect in hoarding case faces more charges, along with his motherTennesee

January 23, 2015
This story is the most unusual one in the pack! The level of cruelty and abuse to animals as well as humans sets this story apart from all the others . . .
Geoffrey Peterson, the suspect involved in an animal hoarding case in which 50 dogs and other animals were rescued, who is also under investigation by the DEA for writing illegal prescriptions, is now facing more charges.
Along with abusing animals and the patients under his care, Geoffrey Peterson and his mother have been abusing father and husband 88-year-old Dr. Walter Peterson. Dr. Peterson was found laying in a hospital bed on a wet blanket saturated with urine. Dr. Peterson was transported for hospital due to poor physical condition and lack of care. Geoffrey Peterson, along with his mother, face charges of Willful Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation of an Adult.
Geoffrey Peterson came to the attention of authorities for animal cruelty, hoarding and neglect late last December. When the animals were rescued, four dogs were discovered dead, and one puppy had been found inside a freezer. The animals were living in their own feces, with some caged and others roaming free. Local veterinarians and shelter volunteers tagged and color-coded each animal and gave them emergency care they needed, before loading them into trucks to transport them for treatment at a shelter.
Here’s The Good News: Hope after the hoard
Officials celebrated the first adoption of a dog recovered this animal hoarding case!
Tippy was adopted from the Chattanooga Hamilton County Humane Educational Society.
Wednesday another family will adopt the second animal rescued from the Sequatchie County case. Then on Thursday three dogs from the hoard will leave for the Rescue Waggin.’
So this January Round-up of 11 animal hoarding stories in three weeks covers 8 states across the US. And these are only the stories that reached the news! Many other animal hoarding horrors occur but haven’t been reported, mostly because hoarding disorder – whether it’s objects or animals being hoarded – occurs in isolation. It’s one of the defining features of the disorder.

Closer to home

  If you live in the Greater Philadelphia or Southern New Jersey Region and need help for a friend or family member who has hoarding disorder

In previous posts about help for hoarders we have listed the treatment professionals who specialize in helping people diagnosed with hoarding disorder.
Before confronting the animal hoarder, please consider consulting one of these professionals. They can help you plan a compassionate intervention based on the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – the only type of therapy proven to be effective in changing the hoarding behavior.
• If you suspect someone in the Greater Philadelphia area is an animal hoarder, contact the Pennsylvania SPCA. 
• If you suspect someone in the Southern New Jersey area is an animal hoarder, contact the New Jersey Department of Health.
Or the New Jersey Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA): 800-582-5979,
For Legal Information about animal hoarding in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey contact:

And, as always, if you have questions about hoarding cleanup services – whether it’s for object or animal hoarding – in the Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region please give us a call at 877-750-7876.

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