Written by Jeff Mackey
In August 2012, PETA was contacted by a whistleblower who had
been volunteering for several months as an animal care assistant for a licensed
wildlife rehabilitator operating out of her Florida home. Cruelty Investigations
Department staffers urged the whistleblower to document her report that ill, injured, and
orphaned wild animals taken into the home were living in utter squalor and that
the rehabilitator left animals to languish without food or water.
The shocking conditions depicted in footage taken by the
whistleblower over the course of three weeks included the following:
PETA alerted state and federal wildlife officials, sparking
an investigation whose findings corroborated the whistleblower's reports and led
to the confiscation of numerous suffering turtles, tortoises, and birds.
With PETA pushing for action, the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission filed 23 charges against the rehabber for animal neglect, improper animal housing, and
unsanitary conditions. The state attorney's office also charged her with one
count of maintaining wildlife in unsanitary conditions.
Following a plea bargain, the woman
ceased the pretense of rehabilitating animals, and the survivors were removed
from her care for release back into the wild or transfer to other facilities
better equipped to meet their needs.
Even well-meaning animal rescuers can become overwhelmed.
Worse, many out-of-control hoarders use rescue as a pretext, causing massive suffering for the animals who fall
into their hands. If you become aware of animals suffering in a supposed rescue
or rehab facility, please document conditions with a camera or camera phone and
report the perpetrators to
With so many out-of-control hoarders claiming to be animal rescuers, "rescue" has become a buzzword to
beware of—especially when combined with irresponsible "no-kill" promises. The strength of their compulsion also makes it vital that, when
convicted, hoarders be stopped from possessing any animals in the future in order to break the cycle of abuse.
The latest reminder comes from Alabama, where Sharlotte
Marie Adams, the operator of Animal Aid and Rescue Resources Inc., and her
husband were arrested after a complaint was filed alleging misuse of funds and other donations to the
"organization." When police searched the Adamses' home, site of the purported
rescue, they reportedly discovered atrocious conditions. Andalusia Animal Shelter
Director Christin Ball, whose staff is rehabilitating and housing some of the
seized animals, said this about their condition:
They were all sick. There's one that we're not sure if he's going to make
it or not. They've had no care whatsoever. It's sad. She claimed she'd taken
them to the vet, but no one had.
suspect that Adams exploited people's "generosity by using cash donations
– solicited under the guise of treating sick animals – to pay for personal
items such as electric bills and groceries for the family."
The couple was reportedly booked on charges of theft, endangering
the welfare of a child, and cruelty to animals. But while police may have been
shocked by what they found inside the house, PETA's investigations often reveal
nightmarish conditions at many so-called "rescue" facilities, such as
Caboodle Ranch and Sacred Vision. And, as in those cases, it will be critical to seek a prohibition on animal
ownership as part of the penalty if the Adamses are convicted.
What You Can Do
If you learn of any hoarding case—whether posing as a rescue
or not—please contact the prosecuting agency and/or attorney's office to ensure
that any sentence or plea bargain include a clause forbidding the hoarder from
owning or possessing animals.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
to barren, muddy pens with no protection from the elements, no food, and no
water, the nearly 70 dogs owned by Cajun Country "Ranch and Animal Rescue" in Wilburton, Oklahoma,
were struggling to survive. Their skin was stretched tightly over their rib
cages, and fleas and ticks had ravaged their bodies. The horses on the property
fared no better, their bones clearly visible. The bones of dead dogs lay piled
up like leaves, and more bones were scattered throughout the property.
PETA received a tip-off, we alerted local officials, who told us that they
shared our concerns. One of our contacts in the area was an expert on hoarding situations, and after
he surveyed the property for us, he confirmed our fears about the "rescue."
next day, armed with a warrant, police raided the property and arrested the
owners, Anne Marie and Shane Duhon. According to news reports when police entered the
couple's home, they found three children living in squalor. Animal feces
covered the house, including the children's beds, and cockroaches crawled
across the littered floor. Reportedly, the children were covered with bites
from fleas, ticks, and other insects. While the Department of Human Services
took the children to a safe location, a multitude of volunteers, mobilized by
PETA supporters in the area, came in with horse trailers and kennels and moved
all the animals to awaiting reputable rescues and animal
of the animals were so far gone that they needed to be euthanized. At
trial, the Duhons pleaded
guilty to child neglect and
cruelty-to-animals charges. They were put on probation for five years, banned
from having any animals during that time, and told that if they violated the
terms of their probation, they could face prison time.
While animal hoarding
behavior stems from a desire to "save" animals, hoarders' mental
illness causes them to keep amassing animals, and well-meaning people encourage
hoarders by giving them animals and/or money. They end up with far more animals
than they are capable of caring for—with disastrous, deadly consequences for
their victims. If you suspect that a local "rescue" is actually a
hoarder, alert animal control or PETA immediately.
taken a few weeks and no small amount of TLC, but the rabbits who were rescued
from a hoarder's facility, Bunny
Magic Wildlife & Rabbit Rescue, Inc., are healthier, stronger, and ready to meet families who will love and care for them
authorities raided the so-called "sanctuary" based on evidence
gathered by PETA, they rescued 222 rabbits packed inside owner Carole Van Wie's
filthy garage and home, where ammonia fumes were so strong that responders had
to put on masks.
Wie kept rabbits stacked in cages one on top of the other, amid their accumulated
urine and feces. She hadn't provided sick rabbits with veterinary care, and she
had left contagious animals with those not yet obviously sick. Some rabbits'
nails were so overgrown that they caught on the wire bars of the cages, and
many were infested with fleas. Authorities found at least one rabbit dead
inside a cage.
now, with their traumatic ordeal behind them, the Bunny Magic rabbits are ready
to go home for good—with families who are willing to give them the specialized care that rabbits
If you are ready to make a lifetime
commitment to an animal and can give one (or better yet, a spayed and neutered
couple) of these rabbits all the love and care that they deserve, you can apply
to adopt one from the Tri-County Animal Shelter, in Hughesville,
Maryland, by calling 301-932-1713 between the hours of 12 noon and 5 p.m.
Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Written by PETA
a huge victory for animals, Judge Greg Parker of Florida's 3rd Judicial Circuit
has ordered that Caboodle Ranch not get back any of the animals who were seized
following a PETA
undercover investigation. Just as importantly, Judge Parker
ruled that Caboodle cannot possess or
have custody of any live animals!
ruling comes after three days of evidence presented by both the Madison County attorney
and Caboodle's attorney. Judge Parker noted that Caboodle never adequately
explained why it informed county officials that it had 400 animals when more
than 600 were seized—fewer than 200 of whom had veterinary records. The judge observed
that numerous lethargic animals, laboring to breathe, were found in desperate
need of veterinary care in a deteriorated building among blood- and
mucus-smeared windows; that there was a "noxious" odor; and that similarly
sick animals were found across the property. In other words, the court
described a reality at Caboodle starkly similar to that documented by PETA's investigator.
Parker ruled that the evidence indicated "clearly and convincingly"
that the animals were not receiving proper care and concluded that Caboodle "is
not able and fit to have custody of the animals."
have been cared for in a temporary shelter and finally given the veterinary
care that they so desperately needed and the compassion that they always
deserved, have been turned over to the custody of the Madison County Sheriff's
We want to thank the Madison County Animal Control Department, the
MCSO, and the 3rd Judicial District of Florida State Attorney's Office for
pursuing this case with the seriousness that it deserves. We're also grateful
to the many humane agencies and responders who have labored tirelessly for
months to care for these animals and give them a clean, safe place to stay. Let's
hope that once they recover, they will find happiness with responsible families
who will give them all the love and attention that they need and deserve.
charges based on PETA's evidence—including a felony count for the neglect of one
cat, Lilly—are still pending against Caboodle founder and operator Craig Grant. Grant and
Caboodle continue to ask the public for donations, including money to defend
Grant against a felony charge of scheming to defraud those who already gave him money!
urge the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to end this by
canceling Caboodle's registration to solicit contributions.
A measure of justice has been served in South
Carolina, where, following
PETA's undercover investigation, the
woman who fatally neglected cats at the now-thankfully defunct Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary (SVAS) outside Myrtle Beach was convicted of violating a county animal-care
ordinance this morning before Magistrate Margie Bellamy Livingston. Elizabeth Owen,
who didn't even bother to show up but instead submitted her plea in writing,
was fined $500 and sentenced to 30 days in jail, but both were suspended.
In March 2011, a Horry County judge ordered the seizure of a dog and approximately 240 cats from Owen—many of whom were suffering from
painful conditions, such as anal maggots, herpes, tumors, seizures, abdominal
abscesses, and severe gum disease. Nearly half of the animals had to be
euthanized to alleviate their suffering.
officials returned the dog and 30 cats to Owen. And then it got worse: County officials
did not make good on promises to check on those animals'
welfare. Meanwhile, Owen left the state—in violation of her bond, according to
a prosecutor—and evidently took those animals with her. Although PETA's
investigatory evidence was passed between four attorneys in the 15th Circuit
Solicitor's Office, none of them filed state cruelty-to-animals charges against
Owen. No other jurisdiction has ever failed to file
charges based on such strong evidence against a hoarder still in possession of
As with many so-called "no-kill" operations, SVAS was merely a cover for an animal hoarder. Owen knowingly deprived suffering cats of veterinary care—even refusing offers
of free emergency treatment for dying cats—and stated that she would rather let
the cats die at the facility than have them taken by officials.
In a disturbing twist, just before most of her animals were
seized, Owen sent approximately 25 cats to Caboodle Ranch, another horrific "no-kill" cat "sanctuary,"
in Florida. Based on evidence gathered in a separate PETA investigation,
officials there seized
nearly 700 cats and arrested and charged Caboodle's founder and operator, Craig Grant, with
felony cruelty to animals.
recidivism rate for animal hoarders like Owen is virtually 100 percent. The
failure of Owen's sentence to prevent her from causing more animals to suffer
and die exposes a critical weakness in South Carolina law, which lacks a
commonsense provision—found in most other states' laws—prohibiting convicted
cruelty offenders from owning or possessing any animals.
Craig Grant and Caboodle Ranch continue to ask the public
for donations, including money to pay Grant's legal fees. Ask Florida officials
to cancel Caboodle's registration to solicit contributions.
Please join PETA in calling for legislation that would
enable all South Carolina courts to bar those convicted of cruelty from having
crate on a slab of concrete is no home for a dog. But 21 dogs being held by a
Florida hoarder each had only a crate and a dirty piece of bedding inside a
concrete-floored kennel to call home. All the dogs were filthy and unaltered
and denied regular veterinary care. And their exposed outdoor kennel gave them
little protection from the myriad dangers that they faced, including other
animals and cruel people.
PETA was tipped off about the hoarder, we contacted officials with the county's
animal services division and urged them to convince her to do the best thing
for the dogs: to surrender them. Animal services talked to the hoarder and told
us that, as is often the case in hoarding situations, the woman had taken in
too many dogs and quickly become overwhelmed.
agreed to surrender the dogs, who fortunately were all still friendly and in
relatively good health, even after living in such deplorable conditions. After
some much-needed vet care, grooming, and spaying or neutering, every dog was relocated
through animal services and local humane societies and put up for adoption.
people who hoard material possessions, animal hoarders usually suffer from mental illness. They fail to provide
for animals' basic physical and social needs, and the animals suffer as a
result. If you suspect an animal- hoarding case in your area, please alert
police and animal control immediately.
sees the light, more trouble for SeaWorld, and the Oscars are starting to look
a lot like a PETA gala. Here's what's going on in PETA's universe this week:
us five minutes, and we'll give you all the latest animal rights news on PETA's Tumblr page.
As viewers of the popular reality shows about hoarders can likely confirm, peering inside the homes of people who suffer from the psychological compulsion to collect things has a certain morbid attraction, until you realize the toll it takes on the families of the afflicted—and it's far worse when the "things" they're collecting are living, feeling beings.
Animal hoarding is a serious and growing problem, with hoarders taking on far more animals than they can properly care for. The number of reported cases is on the rise, leading the Animal Legal Defense Fund to call hoarding "the number one animal cruelty crisis facing companion animals in communities throughout the country."
Chillingly, the so-called "no kill" movement propagated by the likes of Nathan Winograd offers cover for these disturbed individuals, many of whom claim to be "rescuing" the animals and attempt to justify the suffering that they cause as a matter of principle. A Los Angeles Times blog post reported that a quarter of the roughly 6,000 new hoarding cases reported each year in the U.S. consist of supposed "shelters" and "rescues."
Animals kept in crates at a “no kill” shelter.
Even when rescues and animal shelters aren't hoarding animals themselves—like the self-proclaimed animal "hospice and rehabilitation center" called "Angel's Gate" and the now-defunct "Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary"—they all too often give away animals to anyone who will take them, including hoarders, to manipulate their euthanasia statistics, regardless of what tragedy that translates into for the animals.
Here are just a few recent examples:
The failure of "no kill" animal shelters and rescues to address the problems facing homeless animals—and often making matters worse—is why PETA remains focused on the solution to the animal overpopulation crisis: creating a no-birth nation. PETA's fleet of mobile low-cost veterinary clinics (responsible for sterilizing 10,564 animals in 2011 and almost 80,000 so far since 2001!) and our advocacy of strong spay-and-neuter legislation are key to keeping animals out of the hands of hoarders and other people who don't have their best interests at heart and guaranteeing that every animal born has a loving, permanent home awaiting him or her.
Volunteer to help your local animal shelter screen potential adopters and placement partners. Animal shelters can contact PETA for placement-partner applications and agreements. Please also be sure to spay or neuter your animal companions and encourage others to do the same—it's the best way to end the need for animal rescues altogether!
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
recently rescued 108
animals from three homes in
Duncanville, Texas, where
dogs and cats were found stacked in filthy, hair-encrusted, rusty cages and
confined to rooms in which urine and feces coated the floors—allegedly up to a foot deep. According to news
reports, the door to one room to which dogs were confined was sealed shut with
industrial tape and hidden behind a curtain, and the dogs had been deprived of
adequate food, water, and care.
woman responsible for these cats and dogs was apparently busy acquiring unadoptable
animals from at least one
local animal shelter
and running a "rescue" group.
like this are common and remind us how
animals suffer when people warehouse homeless dogs and cats for years—with no chance for them to run, play, or feel the
grass beneath their feet—as a "solution"
to quick and painless euthanasia. Animal shelters that
shirk their responsibility by handing over animals to anyone who says that they'll
take them—as shelters across the country are doing to make their euthanasia
rates look better in the face of pressure from the irresponsible snake-oil
salesmen who call themselves "no
kill" supporters—share the
blame for the suffering of animals at the hands of hoarders posing as "rescuers."
Beware, beware, beware!
euthanasia at all costs is not humane, and it is not a solution to the animal
overpopulation crisis. Until the flood of homeless animals is stopped through
spaying and neutering, euthanasia will remain a mercy for unadopted and
unadoptable animals. Spaying
and neutering are the keys to keeping
animals out of shelters—and out of "rescues"
that are worse than death.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.