Some animal lovers can fill a home full of pets and care for them all; but in many circumstances, a house full of animals without adequate care can quickly spiral out of control.
Whether caused by mental illness or other circumstances, this was the case for a Port Huron, Michigan couple in early March of 2021.
Animal control and police worked together after receiving a tip about several cats, dogs, and even a raccoon all living in a small home with two adults. A warrant was drafted, for “animal cruelty/hoarding,” and, according to a press release later posted by Port Huron Police to social media, “members of the Port Huron Police Criminal Investigative Division and our Animal Control/Support Services Officer along with the St. Clair County Animal Control Shelter conducted a joint operation at the residence.”
Both the animals and humans were living in “deplorable conditions,” as a result of the long-term hoarding, neglect, and abuse that had taken place in the home. The building inspector declared the residence unfit for living.
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The middle-aged couple living in the home were cooperative with police. Their home was in extensive disrepair, with animal waste covering the walls and floors. The combination of neglect and poor conditions inside the home led to several health emergencies for the rescued animals. Animal control worked tirelessly to stabilize some of them that were in poor condition and treated others for a variety of health problems. The couple’s lack of care had led to several animal deaths as well. Investigators found decomposing remains in the home.
In all, first responders removed 19 cats and three dogs from the home. In spite of the earlier call that mentioned a raccoon, none was found on the property. Raccoons are unsuited to domestication and resist most attempts to keep them as pets.
As their home was deemed unfit for living in, and under investigation by the police, the couple, who are married, made plans to temporarily reside elsewhere. The case is still under investigation as of March 13th and could lead to criminal charges.
This case highlights what animal lovers already know — those that care about animals don’t “collect” them, and certainly don’t lethally neglect them. If the couple does have mental health issues, as is common in cases like this, hopefully they are both able to get the help that they need. Compulsive hoarding affects about 5% of the US population and can appear alongside other disorders that make self-care, as well as caring for pets, almost impossible without treatment or outside help.
Thanks to the efforts of PHPD and the St. Clair County Animal Control Shelter, the 19 cats and three dogs were relocated to a safe place and have a second chance at finding a loving home through adoption!
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