Beware “Rescuers” Who Are Really Hoarders

July 13th, 2010 by Doll Stanley

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.

19 Responses to “Beware “Rescuers” Who Are Really Hoarders”

  1. April 15, 2013 at 4:49 am, Pasquale Liebowitz said:

    So stunning! I love the earthy & classic tones of the wedding! I’m so stealing the succulent idea. Lovely bride, handsome hubby & bridal party. Awesome pictures as often Tammy!


  2. December 04, 2011 at 12:10 am, Lucy said:

    I need to know what to do about a situation exactly like this one. I have tried contacting the national rescue organization of which she is member, but have not heard anything back. Is there a place to call first, for a gentle response like the one you describe here, which protects the dignity of the rescuer who has gotten in too deeply and is now a hoarder? It’s so sad, her intent is so good, but the situation is critical and the animals are suffering. Thank you.


  3. July 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm, Pallavi said:

    What would many of us do without the marvellous thoughts you talk about on this blog? Who else comes with the fortitude to deal with critical topics for the health of common subscribers like me? I actually and my girlfriends are very happy to have your website among the kinds we frequently visit. Hopefully you know how a great deal we value your working hard! Best wishes from us all.


  4. July 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm, Shirley said:

    I have seen this happen and when I started rescue had my local official oput down limit of 10 on my kennel license. This way I can’t get more than I can handle. However I have had 4 dogs that have been hell and 19 wich has been easy.



  5. July 15, 2010 at 5:01 am, helen freedman said:

    Please do whatever you can to help these poor animals. Thanks.


  6. July 15, 2010 at 3:50 am, Patricia Missell said:

    Please do everything you can to hep these poor animals. The true culprit is ordinary people who continue to breed for a couple of untaxed bucks in their back pocket, people who buy an animal based on emotional whim, people who do not bother to figure out their budget before purchasing an animal, people who realize after they purchase that they cannot manage the care involved in taking care of an animal…etc.

    What a shame!


  7. July 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm, lisa said:

    I am an an animal lover through and through and if I could I would take in every animal I come across that needed a home but I can’t afford it so I donate very small amounts to rescue and take care of the 3 pets I have. I have to hold myself back from taking on unwanted pets because ppl. ask me all the time but it’s irresponsible. If you can not give each animal in your care the best possible care, medical wise, affection wise, time, just proper care, then don’t take them on. Unfortunately you may be doing more harm than good to all the animals in your care if you take on more than you can handle.You must think about the animals that depend on you already.


  8. July 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm, Jane Tzilvelis said:

    Some people have greater sensitivity than others. They lose their focus, and fall into their emotions, without knowing how to “put a cap” on their feelings. I certainly do agree that some rescuers become horders. I experienced such a rescue. She had about 100 dogs on her property…half outside and half inside. It was horrible.

    The true culprit is ordinary people who continue to breed for a couple of untaxed bucks in their back pocket, people who buy an animal based on emotional whim, people who do not bother to figure out their budget before purchasing an animal, people who realize after they purchase that they cannot manage the care involved in taking care of an animal…etc.

    So these are the culprits. What do we do about immature, ignorant people? They live their lives based on emotional highs and lows. Addiction is rampant in America.


  9. July 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm, BunniesM said:

    The situation of hoarders are always sad, because it reminding me that it is not enough good homes for all animals breaders bread to make profits.It is also telling us how important to pass a legislation to limit numbers of dogs breaders can bread and importance of closing a Puppy Mills all over the country.
    Also people should always need to consider the adoptions.

    I was also disapointed with one of the reply of humane officer with her improfessionalism to offer animals ” free to good homes”.Abviously,
    she is not aducated to know that ” free to good homes” animals end up in terrible medical research facilities and a free bates for dog fighting and also animal abusers hands and hoarders as well.

    I involve in a rabbit rescue and we do check on every single foster house for our rabbits and adopters as well,we also ask them a lot of questions prior of adoption and we make sure they think befor they adopt rabbit by not allowing adoption on a same day.


  10. July 14, 2010 at 3:32 pm, Susan said:

    Lene M. Blaabjerg: Horders aren’t bad people. They love animals and want to help. They sincerely think they are helping. They have an illness and need treatment, love and compassion. They cannot see what they are really doing. As a former board member of a rescue organization, I agree that all rescue organizations need to check their foster homes and anywhere else that their animals are kept, periodically, just in case…


  11. July 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm, Judi said:

    This is so very sad. It happens here in Ohio too. Of course we all remember Tiger Ranch in PA, and the “rescuers” here in OH were sending her cats/kittens
    and stood up for her after all the evidence came out. Clearly, she was a hoarder and intentionally doctored the records (a felony) to indicate they recevied Rabies and other vaccines when they had not. So she may in fact be worse than your hoarder. A horader truly believes they are doing a good thing. the animals suffer in their hands – please, CHECK were you are sending
    your rescued animals!! you must do a home visit and repeat it if they are fostering for you. THe article is great!! I hope it helps some of these poor animals they are supposedly rescued, but go to a WORSE place!!!


  12. July 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm, Gotanimallove said:

    Thanks to people like Debbie and to all who were there to help. We are seeing more and more people becoming hoarders in those time with the economy down. We have some cases here in CA. The worst for me is that people know that this women have to many dogs but no one would say something. Now they are keeping the space in the shelters occupied where normally other dogs could find a home after they got busted. I still believe that we have to make it a law to spay and neuter dogs. If you are a real breeder you should have a license to breed to make sure that breeding is not only for profit. The overpopulation of dogs and cats has to stop, so people are not getting in the situation to rescue animals and get overwhelmed and it turns into a hoarding situation.


    • July 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm, Lee said:

      “I still believe that we have to make it a law to spay and neuter dogs ” AND CATS
      Amen to that!!!
      We need more charitable organizations that will front the spay and neuter costs. There are already programs via humane societies that put up about $30.00 towards the cost, and in addition, in Flagstaff, for instance, we have FlagPAL, that will give a $25.00 certificate to add to that. It is not the whole cost always but it helps quite a bit.


  13. July 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm, doggieM said:

    Interesting that an animal control officer would advertise animals free to good home when often these offers go to laboratory testing or bait dogs for fighting. I don’t know any control officer here in Southern California that does that


    • July 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm, Rachel said:

      Nancy was not saying that she, as an animal control officer, was placing ‘free to good home’ adds.
      She is trying to point out that, in the 1980′s when she was working as an animal control officer, free to good homes adds were running, making it hard to find enough good homes for over 150 cats rescued from a hoarder.
      I would mention that free to good homes adds and posters are still in evidence unfortunately, always making it hard to convince some people they need to pay an adoption fee for a rescued animal.
      Just to clarify.


    • July 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm, Lauriel said:

      you missed the point. the animal control officer didn’t say he placed these ads in the paper, he said that this was going on at a time when such ads were common, which i understood to mean it made it difficult for his organization to find homes for the rescued cats. and yes, such ads still exist. often i’ll call the owners to inform them that their “free to good home” ad may be signing their pet’s death warrant.


  14. July 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm, Lene M Blaabjerg said:

    Bad bad people…


    • July 16, 2010 at 5:10 am, Sunny Humphries said:

      Not bad people. Misguided, mentally ill people. They mean well. They usually start out well. They are convinced no one will be able to love the animals as much as they do, so they stop placing animals out, and they continue to take animals in. Their hearts are in the right place. Their minds . . . Not bad people.


  15. July 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm, Nancy Vernand said:

    I have ran across this very same thing here in California during the eighties. Often, it started when a sincere animal lover “thought” she could keep “rescuing” dogs until the situation was way out of hand. Others wee just like the above…horrible conditions both the premises and the animals. By the time I got the case (as a humane officer) a once well meaning situation was completely out of control. The hoarder was afraid that the dogs would be put down if she (usually a she) were found out. We once took over 150 cats + kittens, some so ill that they had to be put down. Others had actually became feral. We saved as many as possible, vetted them, and found homes for them which was not an easy task back then. Free to good home ads were still in the newspapers. I remember another time when we went in to a house of horror and rescued from the “rescuer” over 100 dogs of all kinds and sizes. Once again, some had parvo and we fund dead dogs in her freezer. No need to go into detail, but it was one of the most disgusting messes I had deal with at the time. Every rescue group needs to home check their fosters or rescuers on a regular basis. Often, when people find out a person is caring for stray or needy animals, they will dump dogs or cats on them unaware to the organization the person is supposed to be helping. They cannot afford vet bills, food, etc. Today this hoarding situation is still all too common. So very, very sad. Thank you for bringing this situation to the attention of the public and rescue organizations everywhere.


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