After receiving numerous complaints from neighbors about the terrible stench, authorities raided a Connecticut home belonging to the self-proclaimed “savior” and uncovered a filthy “house of horror.” On site were 26 cats, two squirrels, a blind owl in a tight cage, a dead marmot and six dogs, at least one of which was seriously ill. “It was unsuitable for both humans and animals,” the officer said. “It was so disgusting.”
The case, albeit horrific, is part of a growing trend – up to 250,000 animals are collected by gatherers each year. Stockpiling is “the number one animal cruelty crisis facing companion animals in communities across the country,” according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Collected animals are usually denied adequate food, water, shelter, veterinary care and basic hygiene, not to mention socialization, affection and respect. Parasites and diseases spread like wildfires in crowded and dirty living conditions. Since stockpiled animals are not usually neutered or neutered, their numbers either increase exponentially or are limited to small cages, carriers, aviaries, bathrooms, basements, sheds, garages, or even kitchen cabinets.
Many gatherers call themselves safe havens or “rescue centers” that must not be killed, and such facilities account for a quarter of the approximately 6,000 new stockpiles reported in the United States each year. Recent notable cases include the capture of more than 220 cats, dozens of them dead, from a Maryland home owned by a couple who claimed to be running a trap-free program; the confiscation of 78 sick and malnourished cats from the “rescue service” in Colorado; and “rescues” in Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, who were charged with mistreatment after the animals were found in filthy conditions.
The hobbyists are also accused of abuse of children and the elderly. A Florida woman who claimed to be running a retirement shelter and rescuing animals was charged with elder abuse after four people, 16 dogs and 48 cats were found among their own feces in a home that authorities believed unsuitable for habitation due to unsafe living conditions. In Ohio, three children and 48 dogs (five of whom later died) were removed from a dirty, littered house that was later convicted. Other gatherers posing as “rescuers” are little more than crooks who “overturn” animals for profit.
Well-meaning people contribute to this problem by donating or giving animals to people who claim to run rescue services, shelters, no-kill shelters or hospices without checking guidelines or doing any research. If you need to find a home for a pet, always follow PETA guidelines. Even municipal animal shelters support gatherers by succumbing to pressure from anti-euthanasia extremists to release the animals to anyone who takes them, or by scaring animals that later fall into the hands of the gatherers.
Animals can suffer in dire conditions for years because of the notorious secrecy of the drives and because neighbors “don’t want to interfere” or “don’t want to cause anyone trouble.” But these animals’ only hope lies in concerned people who report alleged abuse and neglect.
What can you do
Pay attention to the following warning signs of accumulation:
- Unkempt, dilapidated, overgrown yards or abandoned houses.
- I hear animals, but you rarely see them or see many animals sitting in the windows.
- The windows remained closed and the curtains were always drawn.
- Flies gather in windows
- Strong, persistent odor of waste and decomposition
- Homeowners who refuse to open their doors to visitors instead meet people on the street
- Several cats and kittens roam free
- Several dogs chained or chained outside and / or suffering from infections, injury, or malnutrition
If you spot any of these red flags, please don’t hesitate – call the police. Don’t give up until you get results and contact PETA if you encounter resistance. Your actions can save lives. Please never be silent.