Hermits Rock

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Wednesday the sheriff’s department discovered an animal hoarder in Solon, 10 miles from here. 61 dogs and 20 goats and some cattle were rescued from a property where another 30–50 carcasses, of goats and dogs and cats, were found in varying states of decay.

I find animal hoarding difficult to write about, frankly. Clearly, persons who collect animals in this way have real psychological disorders that have real, detrimental consequences on other beings. In that sense I suppose it’s similar to a person suffering from something like schizophrenia who poses a risk to him- or herself or to others; yet, at the same time, hoarding happens on such a scale that it is at once incredible and maddening. But, as in this case, what can you do to an 83-year-old woman who may not have even known how many animals she had and probably believed there was no problem at all?

Correction: I learned today (8/16/2007) that persons with schizophrenia are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it. I apologize for the error.



It doesn’t help when networks like CNN broadcast footage of a likely hoarder’s home as if it were whimsy.

I was a bit surprised the cats didn’t strike out on their own. I’ve heard of cases where cats are unhappy with their current owners and simply go somewhere else of their own accord.

It depends a lot on the cat, I think, and on its relative health: sick cats tend to stay put, and in the homes of hoarders I’ve seen footage of, animals don’t have much chance to be healthy. They also tend to hover where there’s food, and as I understand it, though they will neglect them in a dozen other ways, hoarders will usually feed the animals they keep.

Oops. From one of the links above, I see I got the food thing in 3 completely wrong. One part of the definition of animal hoarding is this:

Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness, and death

In the one case of cat auto-relocation that I personally saw, it was neither a case of food nor health. It was just a family with two young, spoiled children and total pushover parents. The children abused the cat constantly, so it started coming home only to eat. One day an elderly couple a few streets down set out some food for it, and the cat took up with them and never looked back. The elderly couple made contact with the pushover parents, and formalized the transfer of stewardship.

Note the correction.