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Beware “Rescuers” Who Are Really Hoarders

July 13th, 2010 by Doll Stanley

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Doll Stanley has been rescuing animals in Mississippi since 1992.

Doll Stanley has been rescuing animals in Mississippi since 1992.

On July 10, 2010, Debbie Young, a friend of IDA-Project Hope, and three volunteers went to a Mississippi residence we had inspected on July 4. Debbie had discovered that one of our fellow rescuers was actually a hoarder. She’d tried the gentle approach to convince the individual that the animals she was keeping were in need of intervention. Animals were everywhere – at her residence, the residence of her former husband, and at his office. She seemed content to keep them in horrid conditions. She was respected by many of her colleagues and had managed to shield her scandalous neglect of animals from everyone.

Debbie and I learned that dogs this “rescuer” had taken in after hurricanes Katrina and Rita were still at a boarding facility. I encountered some of them when we boarded dogs from another hoarder.

There were no plans for the adoption of these dogs and several needed immediate attention. One had a huge growth on his side, and a blind Border Collie ran continuous circles in his tormentingly narrow run. His companion had become ill and died a few months earlier. This so-called rescuer had been notified that he was ill and had not acted. An elderly crippled dog suffered the winter on the cold concrete of the run where she was confined.

Debbie got a call from Mississippi Animal Rescue League (MARL) after a deputy reported that animals at the hoarder’s residence were being neglected. MARL asked Debbie to look into the allegations, as she had known the resident for some time. Debbie was horrified and emotionally devastated when she saw the putrid, filthy conditions. Most were in cages laden with feces and soaked with urine.

Debbie advised that great embarrassment and legal ramifications could be avoided if the woman we’d known as a friend would release the majority of the animals for adoption, care for those remaining as they should be cared for, and allow home inspections.

Debbie contacted the organization with which the woman was affiliated. The director was shocked that the individual she’d entrusted with animals was unequivocally a hoarder. The organization sent a rescue team to retrieve the animals.

Nearly 100 have been freed from their nightmarish conditions, and there are still more to rescue. We thank MARL, another group that wishes to remain anonymous, and everyone involved in unveiling this tragic situation and stepping up with a resolution to rehabilitate and place every animal who has any hope of adoption. For those who suffered and were humanely released from their misery, we can only say how very vigilant we all need to be when entrusting animals to anyone’s care.

The hoarder has been advised that charges will not be filed if she immediately seeks therapy, agrees to inspections of the sites where the animals were held, and does not increase the number of animals in her care.

This blog was contributed by Doll Stanely, Director for In Defense of Animals / Project Hope.