Tragic Discovery Made In Virginia Beach Cat Hoarding Case

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This truly breaks my heart. There’s no other way to put it.

Last month, authorities that tried to execute a search warrant in connection with alleged cat hoarding at a woman’s Virginia Beach home made a horrific discovery. According to published reports, they found more than 100 dead cats in her freezer.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

“Our hearts go out to the animals inside the home,” Meghan Conti, a Virginia Beach Animal Control official, told the media. “But they also go out to the resident. This isn’t just your everyday owner — this is someone who really has some concerning problems.”

Authorities, who were forced to wear masks to combat the overwhelming odor of cat urine, also found more than 20 living cats at the residence. However, there is no guarantee that they can be re-homed. Their fate is uncertain because the surviving felines seemed “wild and untamed,” leading Conti to believe that they may be feral.

Media accounts also indicate that this was not the owner’s first brush with the law. Four years ago, she was convicted of illegally entering an animal control office to release cats. The media did not provide any insight into her punishment — if any — in that case.

Based on published reports, it is also unknown if she will be prosecuted in connection with this case.

Virginia animal care and cruelty laws

However, Virginia Code Section 3.2-6503(A), which regulates the care of companion animals by their owners, stipulates that each owner must provide adequate food, water and clean shelter. Owners must also make sure that their pets get adequate exercise, sufficient care, treatment, and transportation; appropriate veterinary care; and sufficient space in the primary enclosure for the particular type of animal depending upon its age, size, species, and weight.

Under Virginia Code Section 3.2-6503(B), failure to comply with any or all of these provisions is a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $250. A second or subsequent violation for failing to provide adequate food, water, clean shelter or veterinary care is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by up to six months in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. A second or subsequent violation for failing to ensure that their pet gets sufficient exercise; provide sufficient space in the primary enclosure; or to provide sufficient care, treatment and transportation is a Class 3 misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable upon conviction by a maximum fine of $500.

Furthermore, Virginia Code Section 3.2-6570(A), pertaining to animal cruelty stipulates in pertinent part that someone is guilty of the offense if: they deprived any animal of necessary food, drink, shelter or emergency veterinary treatment; or if they deliberately inflict “inhumane injury or pain not connected with bona fide scientific or medical experimentation” on any animal. The offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both.

It is easy to pass judgment and almost impossible to understand…

For most of us, it is easy to pass judgment based on shocking news accounts of animal hoarding. And it is almost impossible to understand why anyone engages in this activity.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), animal hoarding is generally defined as, “the compulsive need to collect and own animals for the sake of caring for them that results in accidental or unintentional neglect or abuse.”

The ADAA also notes that several factors contribute to animal hoarding. These typically include:

  • poor decision-making and organizational skills
  • intense emotions,
  • strong attachment to animals
  • the overwhelming desire to “save” animals

“All hoarding leads to a sad outcome, but the saddest of all is the animals who die in an environment of neglect, filth, and stressful overcrowding as innocent prisoners of well-intentioned but misguided love,” the ADAA says. “These animals are innocent victims, enduring tragic lives with people who are equally trapped.”

Statistics provided by the ADAA indicate that:

  • 3,500 animal hoarders come to the attention of authorities each year.
  • Hoarding affects at least 250,000 animals each year.
  • The vast majority of animal hoarders have diseased, dying, or dead animals on the premises.
  • Most animal hoarders who come to the attention of authorities are single, widowed, or divorced women (although community-sampling studies find an equal ratio of males to females).
  • Up to 40 percent of people who hoard things also hoard animals.
  • All hoarders relapse without treatment

Hundreds of turtles and birds rescued from Long Island home

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.
Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

For the second time in less than a month, authorities confiscated hundreds of animals from a Tri State Area home. But this time the house was on Long Island. And this time the animals weren’t dogs. This time, the animals reportedly rescued from horrid conditions were turtles and birds.

As reported by WABC-TV in New York, the Nassau County SPCA seized the animals after personnel from its law enforcement division executed a search warrant at the Bellmore home yesterday.

On a steamy hot New York morning, authorities found some of the animals didn’t have enough water and others were malnourished. They were also deprived of fresh air and lived in dirty water, according to an account provided by an agency spokesman.

One of the animals — an alligator snapping turtle found living in the basement — belongs to a species capable of hurting people.

“That turtle could take your hand off,” Nassau County SPCA spokesman Gary Rogers told Eyewitness News.

You can learn all about alligator snapping turtles on nationalgeographic.com. But here are a few basics:

  • You won’t find a bigger freshwater species in North America.
  • They like to live in rivers, lakes and canals in the southeastern part of the United States.
  • They can live for 50 to 100 years.
  • An adult male’s shell can be more than 2 feet long.
  • An adult male can weigh more than 170 pounds.
  • Females are much smaller.
  • They can stay under water for a long time.
  • They have no natural predators other than us.

Now perhaps you see why they don’t make great pets. And personally I really wouldn’t want to keep one in my basement. Would you?

Never mind. That was a rhetorical question. But if you do want one, there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge. You can read about them on rightpet.com.

At the end of the day, what kind of pet you get is up to you. All I ask is the following:

  1. that you do not further the exotic pet trade
  2. that you do your research before you get any sort of pet
  3. that you engage in responsible pet ownership

If you do all of that, you probably won’t end up on the evening news.

New Jersey dog hoarding case will blow your mind

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

It is simply mind-boggling. There’s just no other way to put it.

Last week, authorities in Monmouth County, New Jersey, reportedly rescued 276 dogs from one home. According to multiple media accounts, some of the dogs had never been outside, some were trapped in walls and some were literally having puppies.

“When the Monmouth County SPCA Law Enforcement Division realized that we were facing an historical hoarding event, we knew that we would need to call on all our partners in animal welfare, law enforcement and emergency responders,” the agency’s police chief and executive director Ross Licitra said.

Personnel from at least five separate animal rescue, animal welfare and law enforcement agencies rallied to the cause. But even with such a massive response, it took workers 15 hours to free all of the animals.

Help Wanted

The Monmouth SPCA is now turning to the community for help, and there are several ways you can do so.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Even if you don’t live in New Jersey, you can donate to help cover the costs of caring for these dogs. You can find a link to a special donation page and additional information about where to send your payment here.

The agency is also welcoming inquires about fostering some of the dogs.

“Dogs in our care, especially in cases like this, have a much easier time adjusting to their new surroundings in a home environment rather than in a shelter,” the organization says.

If you live nearby and are interested in providing a temporary home for one of these dogs, you can send an email to: Fostering@monmouthcountyspca.org.

Finally, you can help by donating items on the shelter’s wish list. This list includes:

  • blankets
  • towels
  • sheets
  • small/medium dog crates
  • dog toys
  • Science Diet dog food
  • Purina One wet puppy food

For more information about where you can drop off your donations, click here.

Finally, the Monmouth County SPCA stresses that the dogs are not yet available for adoption and it will take at least one to two weeks to determine which, if any, will be.

“The dogs we currently have need to be medically cleared, spayed/neutered, and assessed behaviorally before they will be ready to meet potential adopters,” the agency says.

In the meantime, those of you who do live in or near Monmouth County are encouraged to meet some of the SPCA’s shelter animals currently available for adoption.

It’s Sad But True

According to the ASPCA, animal hoarding occurs when someone “is housing more animals than he or she can adequately care for.” Specifically, it is defined by “an inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care—often resulting in animal starvation, illness and death.”

While extreme hoarding cases make national headlines and grab our attention, the ASPCA says there as many as 900 to 2,000 new animal hoarding cases in the United States every year. Collectively, these incidents may involve as many as 250,000 animals of varying species.

For more information about animal hoarding, including warning signs and what to do if you suspect someone you know may be overwhelmed, click here.

And please remember that no one can save all of the companion animals in need of homes in the United States. But together we can make a big difference for a few.