A case of animal neglect is reaching its final end with the mass burial of the ashes of over 200 dogs at Baltimore Humane Society’s Nicodemus Memorial Park on today at noon. Following a guilty verdict in Montgomery County District Court citing animal neglect, a Rockville woman was ordered to not have an animal for ten years.
Animal hoarding, considered a mental illness, is one of the worst forms of animal abuse that affects tens of thousands of animals in this country. Hundreds of animals are often kept by the hoarder, often for years. The animals are kept in appalling conditions contaminated with fecal matter and urine. This neglect leads to malnutrition, untreated medical conditions including open sores, cancers, and advanced dental and eye diseases, and severe psychological distress.
According to the Animal Legal Defense League, a quarter million animals –250,000 per year– are victims of hoarders. The League says that hoarding is the number one animal cruelty crisis facing companion animals in communities throughout the country. Approximately 72% of hoarders are women and that the most common animal victims of hoarders are cats, followed by dogs. Often animal hoarding is considered a mental health issue where good intentions have gone awry.
Judy Cahill, convicted in the Rockville case and now listed on Pet-Abuse.com, kept untold hundreds of dogs over a thirty year period. The ashes being buried Tuesday in 200+ boxes are believed to be those of Cahill’s ‘favorite’ dogs. The boxes were found in Cahill’s home.
How to spot a hoarder:
- Keeps an abnormally large number of animals;
- Fails to provide minimal nutrition, veterinary care, shelter or sanitation;
- Fails to recognize the devastating impact of this neglect; and
- Can’t stop himself/herself from repeating this behavior.
What to do:
If you suspect someone is an animal hoarder, you should contact your local police and animal control departments so they can begin an investigation. You can also contact social services to get help for the animal owner who is most likely suffering from mental health issues. The Animal Legal Defense League would also like to be contacted to they can track the case and offer professional assistance to local officials.