A Florida court last week formally revoked ownership of 700 cats from a facility, the Caboodle Ranch, that was hoarding animals. While the ruling is a win for these abused, neglected cats, it also illustrates the difficulties of protecting animals from hoarders.
According to Petside.com, the Caboodle Ranch cats lived in filth, “which resulted in many of them suffering from upper respiratory infections so severe they were unable to breathe. One cat’s eye disease was so advanced and untreated that the kitty wound up going blind.” An undercover PETA investigator who filmed conditions at the ranch said he witnessed “founder Craig Grant wiping the noses, eyes, and faces of some of the cats using Clorox wipes.”
Caboodle Ranch started out as a sanctuary for homeless cats. Several years ago Petside.com reported glowingly on the care the no-kill shelter provided. What went wrong? It would appear that Grant became a hoarder.
The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium defines animal hoarding as:
Having more than the typical number of companion animals
Failing to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in illness and death from starvation, spread of infectious disease, and untreated injury or medical condition
Denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household, and human occupants of the dwelling
Persistence, despite this failure, in accumulating and controlling animals
Hoarders tend to believe that no one else will care for their animals as well as they will, which makes them loathe to give up any of the animals they have collected or to cooperate with authorities. Approximately a quarter million animals a year are hoarded in the U.S.
In its distortion of reality, animal hoarding is a mental illness and it is one that medical science does not know how to cure or treat effectively. The ASPCA reports that current research suggests “attachment disorders in conjunction with personality disorders, paranoia, delusional thinking, depression and other mental illnesses” lead to animal hoarding. Previously Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was thought to play a major role in the affliction.
The legal system also doesn’t know how to stop hoarding. That is why the Florida court decision is such a limited victory. The court rescued 700 cats from heinous conditions and banned Grant from acquiring any more animals. But this ruling came from a Florida state court. To escape the ban, Grant need only move to another state where the Florida court’s ruling does not apply and start over with a new collection of cats. Given the mentality of hoarders, he is likely to do just that.