The other week I was reading about hoarders who pose as shelters. The ASPCA discussed hoarding as a psychological problem and talked about the difficulties faced in attempting to prosecute these cases or even just get the animals out of the homes. I've seen cats and one or two dogs at my shelter who were taken from hoarding situations. They usually have no socialization and have undergone medical treatment. With a lot of work from volunteers and staff they are able to become socialized, adoptable animals who barely resemble the animals who came into the shelter. A lot are no longer adoptable so I don't see them. Volunteers at my shelter only work with adoptable animals for health and legal reasons.
This morning I was checking my email and saw a pet rescue story in a book list to which I subscribe. The woman wrote about how her friend had been involved in closing this shelter and how proud she was but how much more work needed to be done.
Intrigued, I went and read the newspaper story, http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=244715&src=2#storycomments and started reading the comments on the story. This in turn led me to the blogspot for those involved in trying to close this shelter and rescue the animals. They're out in Illinois so I'm not sure what I can do from DC, but I wanted to help spread the word.
If you go to closepetrescue.blogspot.com you will see photos of the animals who have been so neglected and mistreated that they appear to be literally dying of neglect. It seems that the owners of this facility claimed to be a shelter and safe haven for animals. They had nonprofit status and said they were a "no-kill" shelter.
Inside this facility animals were kept in carriers and small cages with sometimes not even one walk a day. Cats didn't get fresh air and none of the animals got veterinary care. Killing animals slowly through neglect is far crueler than a swift, painless euthanasia. I apologize if that strikes anyone as harsh, but it is torture to let an animal rot. Volunteers had to provide their own food and blankets for the animals and were force to sign confidentiality agreements. I hope that the IRS gets involved and takes away the nonprofit status.
At my shelter we were forced to go through a training and encouraged to talk about the shelter. being a legitimate shelter, we have a contract with Science Diet so that we get food from them. Food that's donated is made available for adopters or volunteers to take to their own animals. We do accept blanket and towel donations, but these are thoroughly washed before being used and then regularly washed thereafter. Our dogs get three walks daily. The worst that I've seen happen is at the end of the day when we're closing and the walks become short potty breaks instead of 15minute walk/runs. The cats are in cages with shelves they can leap up on or curl up under. They can turn around, walk, and comfortably move in our cages. They also get taken out for "socialization" if willing to come out. If not, they get petted and encouraged to come out of their cage. During the summer we actually take cats up to our outdoor enclosures on our balcony. These are fenced in (even roofed with fencing) so the cats can't escape. One volunteer would sit in one cage with a cat and I'd sit in another and the cats would get fresh air, a new place to explore, and time to play or cuddle with someone cared. It was a staffer who pointed out that we could do this.
This "pet rescue" in Illinois is a shameful hoarding situation that hurts animals, not a real shelter. If you're in Illinois, look into helping. If you're not, read through their blog and be aware of the horrible things that happen. Keep your eyes open for hoarding situations posing as shelters. When you see one, report it until action is taken. Sadly these situations are real and won't go away on their own.