Everything Animals: Animal hoarding - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Everything Animals: Animal hoarding

A cat rescued from Erlandsson's home. The health issues caused by the house are evident in the cat's swollen eyes. A cat rescued from Erlandsson's home. The health issues caused by the house are evident in the cat's swollen eyes.
Dr. Peggy Larson and Sue Skaskiw. Dr. Peggy Larson and Sue Skaskiw.
A room inside Erlandsson's home that Skaskiw says is an example of typical hoarding behavior. A room inside Erlandsson's home that Skaskiw says is an example of typical hoarding behavior.
Another room inside Erlandsson's home. Another room inside Erlandsson's home.

St. Johnsbury, Vermont - April 26, 2011

Animal hoarding is a tragic practice and one that's very common.

"They don't see these animals as suffering. They see these animals as things to collect," says Dr. Peggy Larson.

Larson is the former Vermont State Veterinarian. She's also a lawyer who's seen many animal hoarding and cruelty cases cross her desk.

"The hoarder becomes consumed with the animals they're collecting. You can't make them stop. It's a repetitive behavior. They'll collect and collect," she says.

Hoarding of any kind is described as a compulsive need to collect and accumulate things, be it objects or animals, and the inability to throw anything away. While there are different theories as to what causes people to become hoarders, Larson likens it to obsessive/compulsive disorder as well as drug addiction.

"They'll say smaller numbers than what they have, and they'll tell you anything they think they can get by with because they have to protect their addiction."

In the case of Cynthia Erlandsson, the 58-year-old woman who allegedly abandoned 42 cats in her South Ryegate home, Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals director Sue Skaskiw says the state of the house shows Erlandsson is a classic hoarder.

"It was surreal. In one room especially there was at least a foot of feces," Skaskiw says. She also describes rooms that rescuers were unable to enter because they were filled with junk.

However, Skaskiw says it wasn't just the state of the house but the amount of clutter and the fact that 42 cats and 5 dead ones were all inside the home.

"Most animal hoarders will defend their animals to the end. In their mind they're doing the best, that nobody else can provide for the animals," she says. "It's a mental illness." However she points out that Erlandsson doesn't quite fit into this category because she allegedly left the animals alone on purpose.

The animals in hoarding homes are usually suffering from poor nutrition, lack of veterinary care and often complete neglect. In the case of Erlandsson's cats, most are just now starting to warm up to humans despite being in rescue organizations for nearly six months.

However, Skaskiw says it's not just the animals who need help when dealing with this problem.

"Studies show 98 to 100 percent of hoarders never ever change their pattern of behavior unless they receive psychological help and only then do a very small percentage of these people ever change their pattern," she says.

Larson and Skaskiw say Vermont currently has no laws that allow the state to mandate treatment for people convicted in cases like Erlandsson's.

Larson says if you suspect animal hoarding is going on in your town you should first try to contact your area humane society. You should also contact the local animal control officer and possibly call police.

Rachel Feldman - WCAX News

Related Stories:

Caledonia County woman in court for 42 animal cruelty charges

Animal Shelter needs help with cats

Cats rescued in possible neglect case

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • People's United: Retirement Plan Updates

    People's United: Retirement Plan Updates

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:45:35 GMT
    The Internal Revenue Service is requiring companies to update their retirement plan documents.More >>
    The Internal Revenue Service is requiring companies to update their retirement plan documents.More >>
  • Rutland pharmacist accused of stealing meds

    Rutland pharmacist accused of stealing meds

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:43:47 GMT
    In Rutland a pharmacist is accused of stealing meds from his employer. 32-year-old Brandon Cigana worked at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue. Prosecutors say he used his position there to access the pharmacy's inventory stealing regulated drugs like benzodiazepines, Hydrocodone and Suboxone for himself without a prescription. The Whitehall, New York man faces up to two years behind bars.More >>
    In Rutland a pharmacist is accused of stealing meds from his employer. 32-year-old Brandon Cigana worked at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue. Prosecutors say he used his position there to access the pharmacy's inventory stealing regulated drugs like benzodiazepines, Hydrocodone and Suboxone for himself without a prescription. The Whitehall, New York man faces up to two years behind bars.More >>
  • Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:04 GMT
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End. Police and the U.S. Marshal's raided this home on Cedar Street around 8 o'clock. They say they seized heroin and cocaine. Six people were inside when authorities went in. But they're not saying how many arrests were made. The raid was part of an ongoing drug investigation.More >>
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End. Police and the U.S. Marshal's raided this home on Cedar Street around 8 o'clock. They say they seized heroin and cocaine. Six people were inside when authorities went in. But they're not saying how many arrests were made. The raid was part of an ongoing drug investigation.More >>
  • Fire damages Lyndonville tree farm

    Fire damages Lyndonville tree farm

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:21 GMT
    Fire has damaged ten acres of a Lyndonville tree farm. Eight department were called in to battle the blaze. And it took four hours to get the flames under control. Fire officals say a discarded cigarette combined with dry conditions are to blame. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.More >>
    Fire has damaged ten acres of a Lyndonville tree farm. Eight department were called in to battle the blaze. And it took four hours to get the flames under control. Fire officals say a discarded cigarette combined with dry conditions are to blame. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.More >>
  • A warning for bird watchers: Give eagles space

    A warning for bird watchers: Give eagles space

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:36 GMT
    Bird watchers are being reminded to give nesting bald eagles plenty of space. The Vermont Fish Wildlife Department is urging anyone who sees a nesting eagle not to get closer than 300 feet. Activity too close to their nest can result in them abandoning their young. Harassing a bald eagle is illegal and a violation of the state endangered species statute.More >>
    Bird watchers are being reminded to give nesting bald eagles plenty of space. The Vermont Fish Wildlife Department is urging anyone who sees a nesting eagle not to get closer than 300 feet. Activity too close to their nest can result in them abandoning their young. Harassing a bald eagle is illegal and a violation of the state endangered species statute.More >>
  • Gun fired into New Haven home

    Gun fired into New Haven home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:48 GMT
    Police are searching for who fired a gun into a home in New Haven. It happened late Tuesday night at 2420 Munger Street. Police say a bullet passed through a window of the home. Luckily no one was hurt. Investigators say a stop sign at the intersection of Munger Street and Cobble Road had also been shot. Anyone with information should call state police.More >>
    Police are searching for who fired a gun into a home in New Haven. It happened late Tuesday night at 2420 Munger Street. Police say a bullet passed through a window of the home. Luckily no one was hurt. Investigators say a stop sign at the intersection of Munger Street and Cobble Road had also been shot. Anyone with information should call state police.More >>
  • What triggered a shooting inside the Bennington police station?

    What triggered a shooting inside the Bennington police station?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:57:35 GMT
    A Bennington man is in stable condition after being shot by an officer inside the Bennington Police Department. Investigators say Gregory Filo had a knife and was behaving erratically.More >>
    A Bennington man is in stable condition after being shot by an officer inside the Bennington Police Department. Investigators say Gregory Filo had a knife and was behaving erratically.More >>
  • Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

    Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

    A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in connection with a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.More >>
    A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.