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Animal Hoarding – More Than Animal Cruelty

animal-cruelty-attorney-2LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA — “Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control officers removed at least 140 cats — most of them sick and some deceased — from a woman’s home on Wednesday morning, 12/19/12 – in what investigators are calling one of the largest cases of animal hoarding the county has recently seen.”

“Officials armed with a warrant began searching Diane Carle’s home at around 8:30 a.m. Wearing protective garb and respirators, rescue crews found cats covered in filth, urine and feces. They placed the cats that were still alive in crates and took them to a shelter. Carle voluntarily surrendered the cats to investigators and will likely face charges.”

Animal hoarding is a deviant behavior that involves keeping an “abnormally high” number of animals as pets without having the ability to care for them. An animal hoarder’s intentions may be good and may conjure up an image of a sweet little old lady down the street but the reality is anything but sweet. It is often horrifying. Hoarders may have hundreds of animals in one location living in filth and squalor. These animals have diseases, they may be starving, and many may be injured and bloodied from fights because they live in confined spaces. Experts say that as many as 250,000 animals a year suffer from unintentional abuse neglect in the U.S.

Animal hoarding isn’t limited to the United States. In 2008, authorities in Edmonton, Canada found 200 dead and dying cats in a woman’s home. 92 cats were sick and barely alive. The other 108 animals were found dead and in various states of decomposition in the garage.

Perhaps the worst case of animal hoarding took place In North Carolina in 2011. A team of animal welfare workers spent nearly 10 hours removing hundreds of sick and dying animals from a rural North Carolina property. More than 400 animals — 17 species in all, ranging from rabbits and ducks to dogs and cats – were living in squalor with a middle-aged couple claiming to be animal rescuers. Yet these would-be rescuers provided little, if any, food, water, or medical care.

“Every section of the property inspected was just more deplorable and more hideous than the last one,” said an animal welfare inspector for the state.


Animal hoarding can be characterized as a mental disorder rather than deliberate cruelty towards animals, although many states treat it as an animal cruelty crime. Hoarders are deeply attached to their pets and find it difficult to let the pets go. Typically, they cannot comprehend that they are harming their pets and they even think that the animals cannot survive without their “care.”

Despite a similarity to the psychological condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), there is no clinical diagnosis for it at this point. But animal hoarding is a tragedy because the real heartbreak and shame is that the victims are innocent animals.


Florida animal cruelty laws state very specifically that anyone who deprives necessary sustenance or shelter or treats any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. So how does animal hoarding fit into this description? Charging an animal hoarder with animal cruelty can be tricky because people have the right to live the way they want. The issue is proving that the hoarder’s living conditions is a direct threat to the health or life of the animal or animals in question.

If you have been charged with an animal hoarding or animal neglect crime you need to talk to a lawyer who specializes in this field.

There are only a few law firms in Florida that specialize in animal hoarding and animal cruelty, and no law firm has as much experience or as much success defending people charged with animal cruelty or neglect as the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A. in West Palm Beach. Stine has handled some of the biggest animal cases in Florida and has never lost a case.

Have you been charged with an animal hoarding, neglect or cruelty crime? Contact the law firm of Andrew Stine in West Palm Beach to arrange for a free consultation today.


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