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The Blurry Line Between No-Kill and Hoarders

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post | February 9, 2012

Feces littered the floor and black mold covered the walls of a house that held 34 cats—many of them hungry, thirsty, and sick. Some animals were hunched over in tiny cages, covered with their own excrement. Even the beds of the humans who lived there had feces on them. Dogs and chickens were found outdoors without any food.

Sounds like something you might see on Confessions: Animal Hoarding, right? Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly) this hellhole—raided a few days before Christmas by Harrison County, Indiana, animal control—billed itself as a no-kill animal shelter called “Frisky Felines Foundation.”

Multiple similar cases have made headlines in just the past few months. In September, the SPCA of Upstate New York seized 68 animals from Peaceable Kingdom Animal Rescue, a no-kill facility. The animals were emaciated, dehydrated, and suffering from mange, eye infections, dental problems, diarrhea, and other health issues that appeared to have gone untreated.

PETA’s investigation of Angel’s Gate, Inc., a self-proclaimed animal “hospice and rehabilitation center” in Delhi, New York, revealed that paralyzed animals dragged themselves until they developed bleeding sores, animals were denied veterinary care (one dog suffered with an infected, rotten, broken jaw), crowded conditions were so stressful that fights erupted daily, and animals were kept in urine-soaked diapers for days at a time, resulting in urine scald. Angel’s Gate promised unsuspecting people that “special needs animals” would “live out their days in peace, dignity and love.” Although its founder and operator, Susan Marino, now faces charges of cruelty to animals and criminal possession of a controlled substance, hundreds of animals remain in her hands—a situation that you can help change.

This elderly, weak Chihuahua—given to Marino by an animal
shelter—suffered terribly without veterinary treatment for about two
weeks before dying.

The line between hoarders and no-kill facilities has always been a blurry one. After all, many no-kill animal shelters’ modus operandi is to avoid euthanasia at all costs, even if it means caging animals for the rest of their miserable lives. But thankfully, awareness is growing about the many ways in which the no-kill philosophy promoted by Nathan Winograd and others fails animals. Writer Phyllis M. Daugherty explained the situation brilliantly in her recent Opposing Views column:

We all would love to see an end of the need to euthanize behaviorally and physically sound discarded pets, but there are just not enough homes to adopt them. Humane euthanasia to relieve shelter overcrowding cannot be stopped just because it is uncomfortable or unpopular without subjecting thousands of innocent animals to suffering in packed kennels plagued with disease and injury or death from attacks and fighting.

We must not allow them to be “rescued” by those who are unprepared for or unable to provide for all their needs. We also cannot, in the name of “No Kill” and in our rush to feel good about having them “leave the shelter,” release them into the hands of someone who can sadistically watch them suffer and/or starve to death, often with food available on the premises.

How You Can Keep Animals Safe From Hoarders

The abundance of homeless animals in nearly every community makes it easy for hoarders masquerading as rescue facilities and sanctuaries to acquire their victims. Spaying or neutering even one dog or cat can prevent thousands of additional animals from being born only to end up homeless, hoarded, or worse. It’s also crucial to support open-door animal shelters, which accept every animal in need and never keep animals stored away like surplus merchandise.

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  • Kimse Evergreen says:

    We have all seen time and time again the horrors of this unrealistic No Kill philosophy. These No Kill advocates stop around and demand that all shelters go no kill and once the city caves in agreeing to the change in philosophy, they leave to go onto the next shelter w/o any accountability of what lies ahead. We have created a FB page to gain support in this Anti-No Kill Movement. Please join our cause at

  • lilly tangers says:

    No Kill is cruelty, plain and simple. Read Winograd’s stupid piece about his Uncle vs. his cat. He thought his uncle died a much better ” unassisted” death than did his cat which was humanely euthanized. That must have been the only time Mr. Winograd tried anything humane, and he didn’t like it. Of course his Uncle was home in bed, surrounded by family, not on a cot at the Salvation Army. Nathan Winograd believes that animals should be allowed to die in kennel, naturally. That’s sick.

  • lisa says:

    What i have read over the years on PETA your Country the USA seem to have no control over these no kill shelters, anyone can seem to start one up in their home as what this couple did, dont you have to get permission? proper documents? visits to your home and inspections to make sure you have the proper housing for these animals?? seems not to be. I dont know the difference between hoarders and no kill shelters, what i do think is most hoarders do start with good intentions and genuinely care for their animals but cant turn animals in need away so therefore end up with too many animals and unable to care for them proper so they suffer. There needs to be more help and monitoring for these people, i know how easy it is to take in needy animals i have 12 rescued cats one of whom is blind and another who has a medical condition, most of them had been physically and mentally abused so was alot of hard work to gain their trust and love, my eldest is now 20yrs old, im lucky to have a good job and the money to care and look after them anyone can have an animal but they dont think how much it costs. People take these animals in not thinking about the vet bills and care they may need, makes me very angry, if you cant afford to have an animal dont have one.

  • Celestine says:

    Just because a place calls itself a sanctuary does not mean it is a safe place to drop off homeless animals. There are many out there that are great places but one has to do diligent homework to check out the place. If you see anything that’s not right, don’t drop off a stray there. There is something called ‘institutional hoarding’ where the hoarder has their small circle of supporters who do not see anything wrong with how dirty the place is, animals dying etc. They usually don’t have intake paperwork, don’t know the exact number of animals, don’t adopt out. Don’t confuse the so-called ‘no-kill movement’ with hoarding, it’s two very different things. Just like there are bad places for homeless kids, the elderly etc. there are bad places for animals too. That doesn’t mean we should stop supporting the general idea of a sanctuary. The ones that do right are invaluable and thankfully in the majority.

  • HonestyHelps says:

    Jerome I kept tabs on Craigslist during that time and it was pretty obvious from that was to what was happening. Staff was telling Winograd’s hand picked people that they were giving away to known hoarders and they didn’t care. One hoarder was later busted by the PSPCA and she was quoted as to taking animals from PACCA. But get this, she was a foster for the PSPCA when she was busted. The head of the SPCA was with PACCA before and is also a follower of Winograd. George Bengal of the PSPCA was quoted in an article that before 2004 (he was specific about the date) he saw one or two cruelty/hoarding cases a year. With the advent of Winograd’s program in 04/05, those cases are now one or two a month. Look at the Katrina dogs from Pasedo, left with a known hoarder to die months later still in the same crates they came in from Katrina. I have sat in Ad Hoc meetings about the shelters and saw hoarders drooling at the thought of becoming “No Kill”. And the only thing Winograd offers as an excuse is that they weren’t following his program exactly. Now he says that hoarding is on the rise because of the attention it has gotten instead of owning it as his fault with his morbid program.

  • Lauren says:

    We here in S. FL. are being asked to pass the bill making all our shelters No-Kill, as well as allow anyone who wants to call themselves a Rescue to get dogs without any questions asked from places like Miami Dade Animal Shelter. Unfortunately being in the rescue field myself I meet a lot of hoarders who are 501 C 3 rescues and who are completely ignoring the health and welefare of the dogs and cats they rescue. Many of these organizations do what’s known as Chip-In’s to get the animals care and many of these animals are never vaccinated or treated for health conditions because nobody is monitoring them or how they are spending the money they are raising. Debi Day and Amy Roman Restucci from NKN has raised over $70,000.00 for The Everglade Dogs many of these dogs are still in boarding and Ms. Day has decided to pull out of this project and abandon these dogs, but according to NKN there are plenty of adoptive homes for these dogs, why then could they not rehome these dogs? If you go online and google videos of the L.A. CA. shelters you’ll get an idea what is going to happen here if this bill passes, there were 11 dogs to a single caged area, dog fights were breaking out everywhere and there was not enough help to supervise these animals. They had older dogs with young aggressive dogs and sick with healthy many of the dogs were having their food stolen from them by food aggressive dogs it was complete mayhem. When you have that kind of over crowding disease spreads like wildfire and can kill the entire shelter population. I’m really scared this bill is going to pass because people only see wow no more animals will be euthanized but at what cost?

  • Jerome says:

    I am a personal witness to the failure of Nathan Winograd and his no kill business. Winograd came to Philadelpha anmd his entourage demanded they be allowed to take over animal control services. Winograd’s personal associates were placed in jobs directing this animal control shelter, called PACCA. Almost immediately the problems began with overcrowding, disease, and pets killing each other while jammed in cages. Pets ended up in the hands of hoarders. The entire place had to be shut down, that is how bad it was for the pets, and there was an investigation. My heart breaks for animals subjected to this no kill charade. It has failed all involved, and put pets back into a hideous past of suffering. Plus no kill now has just ignored the spay and neuter issue. We all know now, it not only doesn’t work, no kill makes things worse. It is not acceptable to let the pets be harmed this way.

  • MARTHA says:


  • emily says:

    oh my gosh thats terible! 🙁