Local Humane Society rescues animals from hoarders in Alabama

Joan Hedderick, left, and Doug Kaltenborn, both volunteers at the Humane Society in Naples, help situate 14 dogs as they arrive at the animal shelter on Saturday night. The Humane Society in Naples accepted 14 dogs and 23 cats, many of which are suffering from malnutrition and an assortment of health ailments, after they were saved from what shelter officials described as an 'animal rescue organization that became a hoarding situation' in Houston County Alabama last week.  Tristan Spinski/Staff

Joan Hedderick, left, and Doug Kaltenborn, both volunteers at the Humane Society in Naples, help situate 14 dogs as they arrive at the animal shelter on Saturday night. The Humane Society in Naples accepted 14 dogs and 23 cats, many of which are suffering from malnutrition and an assortment of health ailments, after they were saved from what shelter officials described as an "animal rescue organization that became a hoarding situation" in Houston County Alabama last week. Tristan Spinski/Staff

— A group of cats and dogs has a second chance at life after a local shelter opened its doors to rescue, feed and medicate several dozen animals that were saved from a hoarding situation in Alabama last week.

As the sun set on Friday evening, two vans carrying 14 dogs and 23 cats were met by a small army of volunteers, who shuffled the animals into the Humane Society in Naples and immediately began the process of nursing them back to health.

According to the Humane Society’s website, the dogs and cats came from “Dirty Sally’s Pet Pals” in Houston County, Ala., which was described as “22 acres of makeshift pens, old trailers, endless piles of trash and chained dogs” where over 200 animals were saved.

Karen Sesso, shelter manager for the Humane Society in Naples said the animals’ timetable for adoption depends on what they find out during the medical evaluations.

“This is a terrible situation and we wanted to help,” Sesso said.

Pat Murphy, volunteer and member of the Humane Society’s board of directors, said taking in this many animals in these conditions is a big deal for the volunteers and shelter officials.

“It’s a high for us to be able to completely change their lives,” Murphy said before the rescue caravan arrived. “Whenever you can give an animal a second chance it’s a really good thing.”

Alexander DeStefano, the shelter’s veterinary technician described the scene of the rescue in Alabama as a “rescue organization that became a hoarding situation.”

DeStefano said because all of the animals have good temperaments, he is optimistic about their chances of being adopted.

“Their conditions are treatable, so they should all make pretty good pets,” DeStefano said.

Michael Simonik, Executive Director, Humane Society Naples, said he was disturbed at the hoarding situation and said it’s important for states to regulate animal rescue operations to ensure the health and well being the animals.

“Anyone who has good intentions and a good heart can become a rescue,” Simonik said. “But if they get overwhelmed and fail they can do more harm than good. All the people who are hoarders start out saying ‘I want to rescue animals’.”

For more information on adopting these pets, please contact the Humane Society Naples at (239) 643-2143, or visit their website at www.collierhumanesoc.org.

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HoardingResearcher writes:

Thank you so much for bring this issue to our attention.

I'm a researcher for the TV series Confessions: Animal Hoarding, currently airing on Animal Planet, that tells the stories of people overwhelmed by the number of pets they own. The problem is on the rise and affect communities across America.

If you are concerned about the health of animals in someone's care and suspect they may be hoarding them, we might be able to help.

Most animal hoarders don’t see themselves as hoarders, and sometimes don’t intentionally collect animals. Their relationship with their animals has threatened their relationships with friends and family.

Most of these situations aren’t dealt with until they become criminal. This results in animals being euthanized by over-stressed shelters, and doesn’t address the underlying psychological issues - meaning nearly 100% of people end up in the same situation again.

We are dedicated to finding comprehensive long-term solutions and believe therapy to be key to this. We can bring in experts to help people and their pets.

If you or someone you know needs help because animals have overrun their life, visit www.animalhoardingproject.com to learn more and submit their story. Alternatively, contact me directly at cait@animalhoardingproject.com or toll-free at
1 -877-698-7387.

We will treat all submissions with confidentiality and respect.

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