A horrific hoarding case in Chicago is a reminder of why, despite any ill-founded “good” intentions, hoarding never results in a happy home—for anyone. It’s absolutely vital to report all known or suspected cases of animal neglect or hoarding to authorities immediately.
Police reportedly found a mentally disabled 14-year-old boy dead in a backyard, wearing only a T-shirt. Inside the house, they allegedly found more than 200 animals—and three more sick children—living in filth and feces. Reportedly, all 109 cats in the house were suffering from feline AIDS and leukemia and had to be euthanized, and many other animals were starving and diseased, including a cockatiel whose spine was visible on his nearly featherless back. The children reportedly had never been to school or a doctor and slept on the floor, and their bare feet were caked with feces and dirt. The children’s mother has been charged with child abuse and cruelty to animals, among other crimes.
Hoarders exist in virtually every community, so it’s crucial to be alert to the signs of hoarding:
- Hearing animals but rarely seeing them—or seeing many different animals (especially cats) in the windows
- Windows kept closed with the shades always drawn, to hide the hoard
- Flies on the inside of windows
- Strong, persistent odors of waste and decay
- Homes that look abandoned from the outside—unkempt and unlived in
- Homeowners who refuse to open the door to visitors, instead meeting people outside
- Dogs with bacterial infections, bite wounds, and skin conditions, such as mange
- Yards that are overgrown, hiding the home
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post