Animal Hoarding: Inside the Worst Kind of Animal Abuse

⋅What is Animal Hoarding?⋅

Approximately 40 percent of people who hoard “things” also hoard animals, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Almost all animal hoarders are kind-hearted people who truly believe they are helping animals.

While their intentions are good, these good intentions pave the way to the hell in which these animals are forced to live.

One or two strays, usually cats and dogs, turns into dozens very quickly. In the end, animals “rescued” by the hoarder suffer far worse unintentional neglect and abuse, and for significantly longer periods of time, than they would on the streets or in other kinds of abusive situations in which they would die more quickly.

Animals in a hoarding situation often live severely abused and neglected for years.

Animal hoarders differ from the “normal” kind-hearted person who takes in a few strays. First, animal hoarders feel a compulsive need to take in multiple animals in order to care for them, and they are unable to stop taking them in. Second, they are unable to provide even minimal care for the animals, who live in a filthy and overcrowded environment, lacking proper nutrition and veterinary care.

Sickness and Disease

Animal Hoarding is a growing issue, affecting thousands of animals  each year.

Animal Hoarding affects thousands of animals each year, many of whom are so neglected, they must be put down. Some, like this little one, get lucky and can be adopted.

Hoarded animals are so severely infested with parasites like ticks and fleas that they are often anemic from loss of blood and have to be euthanized. Many also suffer life-threatening respiratory infections from lack of care and from breathing the highly toxic ammonia build-up in their environment, which is a result of the hoarder’s inability to clean up the enormous amount of waste produced by dozens of animals.

The floors and surfaces of a typical animal hoarder’s home are covered in animal feces several layers deep.

Carpets, upholstery, subflooring, and linens are soaked with urine, which produces the deadly ammonia.

We cleaned a hoarding site in Tampa, Florida, where the hoarder initially used a child’s hard plastic swimming pool, shoved into the corner of her kitchen, as a litter box for her 30-plus cats. However, she never cleaned or changed the litter, and the cats began using the piles of old newspapers stacked all over the house, the paper and food garbage covering the kitchen counters, and the sinks and bathtubs, also full of trash, to eliminate waste.

The feces and urine had never been cleaned from the surfaces in her home until we arrived approximately two years after the hoarding had gotten out of control.

Cat waste was several inches thick in places. We had to wear chemical-spill boots, Tyvec suits, and ventilated respirators to enter the home.

Most of the animals also suffer from severe malnutrition and even starvation, open sores, dental disease, and a host of other ailments related to neglect and severe overcrowding.

Overcrowding

In addition to the misery of parasite infestation, starvation, and disease, these animals literally live in squalid conditions. They live in their own waste and share their environment with the dead and decaying corpses of other animals.

We have never cleaned an animal-hoarding site without finding multiple dead and decomposing animals rotting under mounds of garbage and behind furniture and appliances.

We cleaned a site in Columbia, South Carolina, where the hoarder had stored over 15 dead cats inside a broken, unplugged refrigerator. When our technician opened the refrigerator, the shock of what he saw together with the stench made his knees buckle.

The hoarder told us that she couldn’t bear to part with her beloved kitties, even though they were dead. She broke down and sobbed as we packaged them in bio-waste containers and removed them from the home.

An additional 8 decaying cats, of which the hoarder was completely unaware, were found under piles of trash throughout the home. In addition to these 23 dead cats, animal control had already removed 19 living cats before we arrived, only 6 of whom survived the ordeal. The remaining 13 were so severely malnourished and sick that they had to be euthanized.

Hoarded animals suffer profound stress because they cannot get away from each other the way pets in a normal home can.

They often fight for food and territory. They must eat, mate, bear young, and exist in unnaturally close contact with other animals. They are denied healthy socialization and meaningful interaction with human companions and suffer from lack of exercise and stimulation.

Hoarded animals are rarely neutered or spayed. Therefore, their population grows exponentially. The animals transfer parasites and diseases to each other.

In a home we cleaned near St. Augustine, Florida, we found five new-born kittens dead in the attic.

We learned that their mother, whose eye was infested with maggots and was hanging out of its socket, was taken earlier by animal control. She was so malnourished that she couldn’t nurse her babies. They died of starvation. Their mother had to be euthanized.

Animal hoarders find animals in a number of ways. They take in strays; they search the Internet for unwanted animals; they go to shelters and adopt animals to save them from being euthanized.

Endangered Communities

The devastating effects of animal hoarding reach far beyond the immediate environment of the hoarder and the hoarded animals. Animal hoarding affects the whole community. Severe parasite infestation spreads throughout the community. If the hoarded animals come in contact with animals outside the hoard, disease spreads throughout the community. Once the hoarder is discovered, the community is suddenly burgeoning with dozens, even hundreds, of animals in its shelters who need immediate critical care.

Some sobering statistics about animal hoarding:

  • At least 250,000 animals are affected every year.
  • 80% of animal hoarders have sick, dying, and dead animals inside and around their homes.
  • Up to 2,000 new cases of animal hoarding are discovered in the United States every year.

 

Sources:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: What is Animal Hoarding?

The Washington Post: Animal Hoarding is a Recognized Psychiatric Disorder

 

Because animal hoarding environments are always contaminated with decomposing garbage and food, rodent and insect droppings, feces and urine from animals, and dead, decaying animals, we urge you to call Advanced Bio Treatment to help with the cleanup. We make sure that the environment is thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and decontaminated, and we are always respectful, patient, and compassionate throughout the difficult process.

 

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Rats, Feces and Odor – Taking Green to the Extreme

⋅Rats, Feces and Odor Plague Well-Meaning Gardener⋅

Our client was a quintessential earth mother. She loved everything that lived and had a hand-carved sign in her spacious organic vegetable garden that read, “All God’s Creatures Welcome Here,” and she meant it. She killed nothing, not even All God’s thieves who pilfered her vegetable garden. She lived alone, but the vegetable garden took up a quarter of an acre. It was huge. That’s because over half of it was consumed by insects, rabbits, squirrels, mice, rats, chipmunks, gophers, birds, deer, and an occasional coyote. Whaut was left was what she harvested for herself and her human friends. She killed nothing, even if it robbed her of food – or worse.

She had a beautiful covered patio from which she could see the garden and beyond, where some of God’s rats had constructed an elaborate tunnel system in her lawn, which was hardly a lawn. It was full of overgrown vegetation because she wouldn’t use chemicals to destroy insects and weeds and rarely mowed it because mowing might disturb the rats and their tunnels.

Neighborhood Woes

One day, a very disturbed neighbor came over and asked her if she realized she had rats running around in her yard.

“Yes! Aren’t they interesting?” she answered.

The neighbor left without saying another word but mumbled something about burning down her house.

Well, God’s rats eventually got inside her well-kept home, and once rats get inside, it’s very difficult to get rid of them. They are not afraid of people. They will stare down a human 50 times their size, and they’re very smart. They learn how to spring traps and avoid poison. Their young come back to where they were born and bear their own young. Within a year, you can easily have a rat colony of hundreds.

Horrible House Guests

A horrendous odor began to permeate our client’s kitchen, and she thought it was food that had fallen into the floor vent and rotted, but cleaning the vent and ducts did nothing to alleviate the unbearable odor.

One day, she told us, she opened a bag of dry dog food and out flew three juvenile rats, who disappeared between the refrigerator and the wall.

Shortly after that, she turned on the dishwasher and within seconds, the entire kitchen flooded. She called a plumber, who said “something” had chewed through the water line under the kitchen sink. Worse, when he pulled the dishwasher away from the wall, the source of the unbearable odor revealed itself. Rats were using the area behind the dishwasher as their private powder room as they traveled between their food source – the dog food – and their nearby nest. The floor was caked with rat urine and feces, and they had chewed a gaping hole into the wall, which led to the garage, next to the dishwasher.

Searching for Effective Eviction Methods

None of her “humane relocation” methods were effective, and within a month, the rat population had grown exponentially.

They had chewed through the back of her 55” TV and destroyed it, had taken over the attic and chewed through an electrical wire to a ceiling fan in the master bedroom, shorting it out, and had chewed through the sheetrock, insulation, and siding of her house in several places.

They had eaten through interior walls and created huge nesting areas out of the insulation inside the walls and shorted out electrical wiring to wall sockets in the bedrooms, creating a fire hazard. They had gnawed through the back of her china cabinet, transported insulation into it, and built a nest under her table cloths. Rat urine and feces were now everywhere – behind furniture, in the attic, behind and inside appliances and drawers, and all over kitchen the cabinets and countertops. She could hear them scratching, scurrying, and squeaking all night inside the walls and in the attic.

When our client’s neighbor reported seeing rats in the overgrown yard, the health department issued her a warning to clean it up or face steep fines and eventual condemnation.

After our client accrued almost $10,000 in code-enforcement and health-department fines, her brother stepped in and called an exterminator, who got rid of the rats after a few weeks, but did not get rid of the massive destruction to our client’s home and furnishings, the filth of urine, feces, and nesting materials, or the decomposing bodies of rats who died inside walls, in the crawl space, and in other well-hidden areas. That job fell to us.

Professional Decontamination a Must

The fecal matter and urine of rodents, especially rats, are bio-hazards because they spread potentially fatal diseases to humans, primarily through hand-to-mouth contact. Decomposing animal carcasses, bodily fluids, and blood are also bio-hazards. You run the risk of stirring up dust if you incorrectly clean and remove feces, urine, and nesting materials, which can also be very dangerous. For these reasons, you should not attempt to clean up a serious rat infestation in your home by yourself.

We found and safely removed 12 dead, decaying rats from hidden and dark areas of the home, and we thoroughly decontaminated and cleaned the entire home, safely containing and disposing of all bio-hazardous material. We worked with the health department and code enforcement on her behalf, and they agreed to waive the fines after final inspection of her home.

If an infestation occurs on a property you own or occupy, please let us help clean and decontaminate your home for you. If you have questions about decontaminating a scene that contains feces, urine, blood or other bodily fluids, about your payment options, or about what your current insurance policy covers, please don’t hesitate to give Advanced Bio Treatment a call at 800-295-1684.

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Deadly Drugs, Dangerous People And Disgusting Results

⋅Deadly Drugs, Rotting Corpse Found in Lethal Meth Lab⋅

Before any meth lab can be safely inhabited, it must be thoroughly and professionally cleaned and decontaminated because the chemicals used to manufacture meth are volatile and lethal. They leave the entire structure and all of its furnishings contaminated long after the chemicals themselves are removed from the premises by law enforcement. That’s because the chemicals permeate the structure itself and all of its furnishings. Meth is one of the most deadly drugs, with the combined dangers of the production of the drug and the havoc its use wrecks on the human body and the environment.

According to the EPA, simply smoking meth contaminates a structure and its furnishings.

Because of its rating as one of the most deadly drugs, under no circumstances should a layman even enter a former meth lab, much less attempt to clean one up. EPA guidelines state that no one should enter a former meth lab unless the individual has the proper training in bio-hazardous waste and the proper PPE (personal protection equipment), which includes filtered respirators.

Plus, you never know what other lethal and horrific bio-hazard, on top of the toxic chemical contamination of the home, you might find inside.

This meth lab to which we were recently called, located in a nice, middle-class suburb near Tampa, Florida, had been a very large and lucrative operation, we were told.

It also presented two lethal bio-hazards: in addition to the toxic chemical contamination of the home resulting from the production of the deadly drugs, a decomposing body was found inside, not such an unusual occurrence, considering the kind of business transacted in a meth lab and the kind of clients who frequent a meth lab.

This was a job strictly for professionals, which the owner of the home quickly recognized. He had unwittingly rented the home to a young “professional” couple who used the home’s spacious kitchen and dining room to cook and sell meth, and the homeowner now faced devastating destruction and financial loss. Our goal was to minimize the impact of this loss for him.

Serious Bio-hazard #1: Meth Contamination

In a previous blog, we discussed in detail why meth labs are so dangerous and what is involved in decontaminating them. The surfaces in a home used to cook meth, surfaces like floors, walls, countertops, and furniture, are contaminated with the lethal chemicals used in making the deadly drugs. The chemicals commonly used to produce meth include battery acid, drain cleaner, engine starter, lithium batteries, anhydrous ammonia, lye, gun-cleaning solvent, gasoline additives, lantern fuel, insecticides, and antifreeze, all of which are corrosive, explosive, flammable, toxic, and possibly radioactive.

 Serious Bio-hazard #2: Bodily-Fluids

When authorities discovered this particular meth lab, it had been abandoned by the tenants, who were now on the run.

In their haste to escape prosecution and certain prison sentences, although they took the deadly drugs, they had left most of the lethal chemicals used in its manufacture behind, which the police confiscated and removed. They had also left behind a rotting corpse, which had decomposed on a filthy mattress in a dirty bedroom. The body, already removed by the medical examiner when we arrived, had been in an advanced stage of decomposition and had apparently burst open under the pressure of the gasses produced during decomposition. When we arrived, the stench of death was unbearable even before we entered the home.

The body belonged to a dealer of the deadly drugs who, we learned from media sources, had one gunshot wound to his head. He had stolen from the couple who lived in the home and was most likely killed by the couple.

The mattress was saturated and still soaking wet from bodily fluids, fecal matter, urine, gastric contents (partially digested food), blood, tissue, and remnants of what clearly were the man’s intestines. This grisly mess had seeped onto the filthy carpet and soaked through it. The entire room had to be cordoned off and thoroughly decontaminated. It was a cesspool of pathogens. All bio-hazardous waste left after the removal of the body had to be safely contained and disposed of. The carpet, padding, and most of the subflooring had to be removed, safely contained, and disposed of.

We still had to decontaminate the entire home of the chemical residues deposited by the production of the deadly drugs. The entire job took us three full days.

Professional Meth Lab and a Crime-Scene Decontamination

Advanced Bio Treatment strictly follows the EPA “Voluntary Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup” when we remediate a property that was a former meth lab. We also adhere to all OSHA, state, and federal guidelines. We also strictly adhere to all EPA, OSHA, and state guidelines when dealing with bio-hazards such as bodily fluids and blood.

This homeowner could easily have suffered a total loss of his home to the critical bio-hazards of meth together with the complications of a decomposing body. Advanced Bio Treatment was able to completely decontaminate the home and restore it to a safe, inhabitable environment. His cost for this cleanup was a fraction of the cost of losing his home entirely through an inadequate, unsafe cleanup attempt.

Should you ever find yourself in the shocking position of having your property used as a meth lab, please trust the professionals at Advanced Bio Treatment. Protect future inhabitants of your home, protect your investment, and protect yourself. Call Advanced Bio Treatment at 800-295-1684 for a free quote.

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