More than 100 dogs were rescued from the overcrowded, filthy apartment of an animal hoarder in New York City earlier this month — and most had never been outside in their lives.
Pamela Green, the executive director of the , said she was contacted by a woman who lived on the Upper West Side and was being evicted. "She wanted us to take some of the dogs," Green said.
Originally, Green said, she was told that there were only 25 small dogs, mostly chihuahuas and terrier mixes. "I said, 'You have 25 dogs in an apartment?' I knew this was going to turn out to be something big," Green said.
Knowing the volume was more than the Kent Animal Shelter could handle, Green contacted the New York office of the Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based organization, to come help.
In truth, Green said, more than 100 dogs were rescued from the small apartment.
And the scene was one that sickened rescue workers. "Management had had to seal off the apartment upstairs and on the side because of the smell," Green said. "There was feces everywhere, on the walls. None of these dogs had had a normal life. They weren't walked. They were just living in this filth."
Some of the dogs were never spayed or neutered, and were inbred and deformed.
It was the second time the woman, who Green could not identify, had been caught hoarding. To date, no charges have been pressed against her.
Animal hoarders, Green said, often start out with just a few pets and keep accumulating them, without the ability to see that there are far more than they can care for or feed.
"That's why hoarders are called collectors," Green said. "There's a disconnect." Whether it be homes crammed with possessions or pets, Green said hoarding is often triggered by a traumatic life event, sometimes in childhood.
Hoarders become reclusive, not allowing anyone into their homes. "It's a mental illness," Green said. "Some people sleep in the same quarters with the animals, in beds covered with feces."
Altogether, Green said, approximately seven rescue groups participated in the save. Kent took five dogs, five went to the Southampton Animal Shelter, and five others to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. The others were taken by other rescue groups around the country.
Neighbors, she said, watched volunteers remove the pets — which the woman wanted to keep — over a period of more than 12 hours. "It was quite a scene," she said.
Some of the dogs, Green said, were extremely malnourished and had never been socialized or even taken for a walk. Most, she said, were just scared. "They had never had a normal life."
There were also three cats in the apartment, which the Southampton Animal Shelter took in.
Ed Fritz, the executive director of the Southampton Animal Shelter, said from all accounts, the situation was grim. "At night, she would throw away dogs that had died in there," he said. "It was horrible, just horrible."
Some of the dogs, Fritz said, suffered from muscle atrophy problems, from never walking. "They were all jammed in there and couldn't move. They grew up underdeveloped and unsocialized."
One dog, Fritz said, had mange, urine burns, and ulcers in his eyes, causing them to disintegrate. "We did our best, but ultimately, the most human thing was to say good-bye to him," Fritz said. "It was the saddest thing I've experienced in my career. It just broke your heart, looking at it."
All 15 dogs that were saved are being spayed and neutered, fed, and socialized, and will soon be healthy and ready for adoption.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or contact the Southampton Animal Shelter or the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons to give the dogs a home.