Reporting Derek Valcourt
COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Dead animals were found inside a Columbia townhouse, some of them stuffed inside a freezer. The animals pulled out by rescuers are struggling to survive.
Derek Valcourt has an update on the case and the condition of the surviving animals.
It’s not good news. Four animals were found barely alive inside the home, emaciated and dehydrated. They’re in such bad condition, police refused to let WJZ see them.
The discovery Monday of 40 dead animals inside a house—including cats, rabbits, birds, snakes and guinea pigs—came as a sickening shock to neighbors along Lambeth Court in Columbia.
“It just tears my heart out, it really does,” said a neighbor.
Police say they’re still waiting to question the woman who rented the house. Neighbors say she was active in animal rescue groups, but hasn’t been seen there in weeks.
“It’s mind-boggling,” said a neighbor.
Severe animal hoarding cases are a major problem encountered over and over again in Maryland and across the U.S. Last year alone, 78 rabbits were found living in inhumane conditions at a Columbia home. Sixty-eight cats were found dead and 82 others living in deplorable conditions inside a Frederick home and 51 dogs were pulled from a Pasadena home. Their owner spoke to WJZ.
“We were breeding them; we were selling them. Things slowed down,” said Charles Richards. “It just grew. It snowballed.”
“A lot of these individuals, they don’t see that they have a problem,” said psychologist Dr. Gregory Chasson.
Chasson says animal hoarders are often well-intentioned, taking in distressed animals. Many times, hoarders end up doing more harm than good.
“They don’t have an easy time getting rid of the animals once they’ve passed away and there’s a general level of disorganization that comes with hoarding, so I think you get a combination of those two things and you start to see stories that surprise people, like freezing the bodies of dead animals,” Chasson said.
Police say they’ve located the woman who was renting the house and have asked her to come in for questioning in the next few days. It is possible she will face animal cruelty charges.
Psychologists say if you recognize symptoms of hoarding in someone you love, it’s important to get them behavioral therapy to deal with the problem.