This is the first in a series of articles on animal hoarding.
There are reality shows about hoarders but the fantasy world of television recently collided with reality horror in my neck of the woods. When we read tragic stories of animal neglect or abuse we hope it’s not from our backyard. And then sometimes the unthinkable happens. I live one of the most affluent counties in the U.S. where billionaires like Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren live near pockets of the less wealthy. Last week, from one condemned home in foreclosure, in my leafy neighborhood, the Greenburgh police with the New Rochelle Humane Society removed 69 cats living in hoarder hell. These innocent cats caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, found themselves trapped in tiny cages, without litter boxes or any care for up to eight years. Some of cats have known nothing but unbearable conditions since being born in captivity.
The mother and daughter who lived there didn’t intend to imprison and endanger the lives of cats. Hoarders often love animals and think they want to help them but physical and mental illness coupled with financial woes often create the perfect storm for hoarding. People with a hoarding disorder often have OCD or other psychological disorders from depression, PTSD or addictions. One thing and one cat leads to another resulting in an out-of-control-situation. Sadly, intervention doesn’t come soon enough in most cases.
What disturbed me about the hoarding situation was the proximity. Didn’t the neighbors wonder what was going on? Surely someone saw endless bags of food and cages entering a small 1000 sq.ft. house over the years and then dawned on me: we mind our own business where I live. We’re polite to our neighbors and we don’t pry. After thirteen years of living here, there are some neighbors I’ve never said hello to but only waved across the acreage. What happened here could happen anywhere, even in your backyard. Let’s avoid that. Let’s say and do something if a situation doesn’t feel right. It just may save lives and needless suffering.
It’s easy to feel shock and anger towards the hoarders or focus on what the animals endured. Most press covering this and similar stories tend to sensationalize the horrible details but I’d prefer to put on a positive spin. The animal were rescued. They are safe and medically cared for. The future is brighter for some than others but there is hope for all. Cats are remarkably resilient and I’ve witnessed miraculous changes when rehabbed, socialized and loved.
When something bad happens especially if it’s close to you, there is nothing more satisfying than taking positive action. There is always something we can do to help. I made these PSA graphics to be Pinned and shared. We can’t always foster or adopt but we can social media share or donate items or cash. The New Rochelle Humane Society has a Donation page on Fundrzer.com and having an online fundraising auction. All of the cats need medical treatment. One is having a leg amputated. We all know how expensive veterinary care is. Do whatever you can do to help.
The 69 cats, the tireless shelter worker like manager Dana Rocco and me thank you.
This gorgeous rescued orange tabby sniffed his freedom and raced after a catnip toy as if he’d done it all his life.
A few of the 69 are already in foster homes but with limited space at the shelter, foster home placements are the #1 priority. Some of the cats will need more care but it’s huge progress for a cat to look directly into your eyes like these brave kitties. For all the latest developments about these special survivals, “like” and follow the New Rochelle Humane Society on Facebook or visit their website at New RochelleHumaneSociety.org for more info on how you can help.