Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Adams County Struggling To Care For Seized Animals

November 13, 2009 channel3000.com 

TOWN OF SPRINGVILLE, Wis. -- The Adams County Humane Society is struggling to care for dozens of animals that were taken from a Town of Springville home Wednesday. Authorities said three children at the home have been placed in foster care after Jesse Kolb, 33, and Tina Kolb, 30, were arrested Wednesday.

Jesse and Tina Kolb are facing 10 misdemeanor counts each of mistreating animals and three counts each of neglecting a child. They have been released on $5,000 signature bond.

Investigators said they aren't sure why the family was in a situation they described as "unlivable."
For a shelter that typically has about 20 animals, Christina Ackerman, manger of the Adams County Humane Society, said she is doing the best she can with more than 50 animals.

"There were dachshunds, labs, huskies. The huskies are in the worst shape by far," Ackerman said.
In all, 37 dogs of all ages and breeds were seized from the home, and Ackerman said the dogs are suffering from various stages of starvation.

"They are so hungry, but we have to be careful because if we feed too much at once you can really damage -- make them sick and injure them. So we try to feed, every hour or two, a cup to each animal," Ackerman said.

In addition to the dogs, 11 cats, seven guinea pigs, two horses and 133 rabbits are also in the county's custody after the animal seizure that county authorities said was like none they've seen. "The conditions, some of the initial reports I got, were not fit for anyone to live in the house, because there were so many animals in the house and feces and different stuff on the floor and just in the residence itself," said Adams County Sheriff Darrell Renner.

The county and the Humane Society have to pay to care for the animals as the case works through the court system. "We'll depend on donors to take care of this. Something like this can bankrupt a facility," Ackerman said. The Humane Society said it is accepting food, cleaning supplies and animal bedding, along with monetary donations. People can call 608-339-6700 to help.

Jesse and Tina Kolb are scheduled to be in court on Dec. 14. Authorities said they might be facing felony charges if two dogs found dead on the property are ruled to have died of starvation.

More cats rescued from Nanaimo-area animal hoarder UPDATE

October 07, 2009 By Jenn Marshall - Nanaimo News Bulletin

A woman caught hoarding a large number of cats and kittens twice this year needs medical help and should be banned from owning animals, Nanaimo SPCA says. Special constables were called to Gabriola Island last week to rescue 23 neglected cats and kittens. In August, SPCA constables removed nearly 100 cats from a house the same woman was renting in Cedar.

In both cases, the property owners invited SPCA officials to the property to remove the animals. Volunteers with the Gabriola Cats Alive rescue group helped the SPCA catch and cage the animals in the most recent incident.

Charges of animal neglect are pending against the woman from the Cedar incident, as well as a recommendation she be prohibited from owning animals. The SPCA has also asked the woman to seek counselling.

“Hoarders will always hoard, we will constantly have to go back,” said Leon Davis, Nanaimo SPCA branch manager. “It’s a mental health issue. This woman is absolutely convinced that she’s just an animal lover giving these unwanted kittens a home.”

There is no official condition for animal hoarders, but Davis said these people could fall under the broader diagnosis of disposophobia, or compulsive hoarding. In his experience, animal hoarders do not actively abuse their animals and believe they are providing a good environment for them.

The only legal recourse to stop animal hoarders is to lay criminal neglect charges, Davis said, and prohibit hoarders from owning animals. If a person violates the order, they are subject to further charges and confiscation of animals.

Davis suspects the woman went back to the Cedar house, caught some of the cats SPCA officers were unable to seize at the time and moved them to a renovated bus she was living in on Gabriola. Davis said the cats were fearful, malnourished, dehydrated, suffering from upper respiratory and eye infections and were infested with fleas. All that was put out for the animals to eat was a small bowl of caesar salad. “Romaine lettuce certainly doesn’t fulfill their nutritional requirements,” he said.

The cats are being cared for at the Nanaimo SPCA shelter. Davis said many of the cats from the Cedar property are still in their care and they are also trying to take in about 80 cats found at a deceased woman’s home in Extension, so resources are tight.

“We are having quite the struggle – the vet bills are kind of astronomical right now,” he said. “Since Jan. 1, we’ve had 745 cats come into the shelter.” If you can help by making a donation, please visit the BC SPCA website at spca.bc.ca/help, call 1-800-665-1868, or call the BC SPCA Nanaimo Branch directly at 250-758-8444.

Dawson Creek couple receives $700 fine for animal cruelty  

Globe and Mail Jan.18, 2010, Wendy Stueck Vancouver, B.C.  

SPCA calls for tougher regulations; help with investigation costs

It gets cold in Dawson Creek, especially for a coatimundi. One such creature – a raccoon-like mammal native to Central and South America – was among more than 200 animals discovered in crowded, filthy conditions on a Dawson Creek property in 2008.

The coatimundi and 87 other animals seized as a result of a BC SPCA investigation are now in new homes. And last week, their former owners pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty, receiving a $700 fine, two years' probation and instructions to work with the SPCA to reduce the number of animals in the couple's care.

Although pleased that the case went to court, the SPCA says the fine does not reflect the scope of the case or the SPCA's cost to pursue it. “We would have loved to have seen a restitution order,” Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA, said Monday, adding that the agency does not receive government funds to conduct animal cruelty investigations. Veterinary, transportation and other costs related to the Dawson Creek case amount to at least $40,000, Ms. Moriarty said.

The case involved private animal collectors, whose menageries can fall in a grey area between municipal bylaws and provincial regulations on keeping lions, tigers and other exotic animals.

British Columbia, for instance, last year introduced new rules for alien species, spurred in part by the 2007 mauling death of a woman by a caged tiger on a property near 100 Mile House. Earlier this month, an Ontario man was attacked and killed by his 650-pound tiger as he entered the animal's cage to feed it, renewing calls for licensing of dangerous animals in that province.

But such regulations do not necessarily restrict private collectors, especially if they focus on animals that are not on lists of banned or dangerous species, said Julie Woodyer, campaign director for Zoocheck Canada.

“Unless they are caught under some sort of bylaw in the area, or it's proven you have illegally imported the animals, which is just about impossible, there really is no legislation – no legislation to protect the animals, and really no legislation to protect the public either,” Ms. Woodyer said.

British Columbia, along with southern Ontario, is a hot spot for private animal collections, perhaps because busy border crossings link them to animal-import and trading networks in the United States, Ms. Woodyer says.

The BC SPCA visited the Dawson Creek property after receiving a complaint about animal neglect and hoarding. The agency said its officers found more than 200 animals, including horses, reptiles, llamas, exotic birds, goats, dogs, wolf-hybrids, cats, rodents, a boar, a lynx and the coatimundi. Most of the animals were being kept in an out-building with no ventilation, feces piled up in cases and no water. The coatimundi was being kept in a dog crate and had chewed its own paws, Ms. Moriarty said.

Online Comment: CarminaG 1/19/2010 4:42:57 PM

$700.00 fine? We need stronger animal cruelty laws and punishments to fit the crimes against the vulnerable and voiceless creatures in our society. These sort of 'people' should never be allowed to have any animals of any kind. Why weren't they all removed by the SPCA? 

Note: There were a number of comments like this online to various news outlets.  Animals are virtually unprotected by Canada’s weak legislation and need to be removed from the designated property status.  

January 19, 2010 from Carmina Gooch 


Re: Dawson Creek residents plead guilty to animal neglect and cruelty 

Ms. Moriarty: 

It was extremely distressing to read in the news once again about another case of horrific neglect, suffering, and cruelty to animals here in BC.  

Ms. Kuberski and Mr. Bunker have clearly neglected the assorted animals that they had on their property.  The filth, inadequate conditions in which they were kept, and untreated injuries are enough justification that I feel they should never be allowed to have animals of any sort. 

The $700.00 penalty is nothing short of insulting, considering the severity of this crime.  Our weak anti-cruelty laws in this country are a disgrace. 

If these individuals are hoarders, their behaviour is unlikely to change, so it's concerning that they are permitted to have any animals.  Regardless of whether their actions were intentional or not, it is the welfare of the animal that needs to be protected.  I feel any and every species left with them is at serious risk.  

What factors determine whether the SPCA removes/seizes all or some of the animals or if they are voluntarily surrendered?

Rabbits seized from Edmonton home 

Karyn Mulcahy, Global News: Monday, March 29, 2010 

More than 500 rabbits were seized from a home in south-west Edmonton earlier this month. According to documents released by Alberta Health Services, the home was uninhabitable and the rabbits had access to all areas inside the house, including kitchen cupboards and air ducts.

Environmental health officers said that the furnace in the home was no longer working and that there were exposed wires throughout the house that had been chewed, making the electrical system unsafe.

Neighbours told Global News that the rabbits were not always confined to the home, and in many cases were seen running through the neighbourhood. Some filed complaints with the city after the animals began burrowing underneath decks.

Health officials say it appears to be a serious case of animal hoarding. "People sometimes have unrealistic views of what their living conditions are like." Environmental Health Officer Sandra Hamilton told Global News. "People tend to deny the conditions they're living in."

The animals were seized by the humane society earlier this month, and Alberta Health Services has ordered that the home remain vacant until it can be made safe for habitation. There is no word yet on whether charges will be laid as the investigation is ongoing.

Update: March 30, 2010 | Edmonton Journal
"Charges will be laid; they're just going through and getting the case in order before they lay them." 

April 9, 2010  After seizing 589 rabbits from the "home" on March 12, they've all been euthanized, because of snuffles, a highly contagious respiratory infection.  542 rabbits were voluntarily surrendered to the EHS over the last year or so, and were adopted into new homes.  Carmina Gooch wrote to the Society with concerns and questions on why this deplorable and sad situation was allowed to go on for so long.  Surely there are City bylaws that prohibit the keeping of so many animals. As well, the health department, mental health services, and other agencies should have been more proactive.  There had been numerous visits by various officials.  If this is how long the legal and bureaucratic procedures takes, overhauls of the systems are in desperate order.  As the matter is before the courts, details of EHS attempts to remedy the situation cannot be released.  We were told that under Alberta’s Animal Protection Act (APA), animals cannot be seized unless there is a violation of the Act.  Under the APA owners must be given opportunities to rectify any concerns noted by officers enforcing the Act.  The Society was only able to seize the rabbits after obtaining a warrant, based on the conditions observed during a follow up visit.  

If convicted, the three accused could be prevented from ever having animals in their care again, and could be fined a maximum of $20,000 for each charge.  The likelihood of a significant punishment is minimal.   

According to Dr. Gail Steketee, a professor at Boston University’s School of Social Work, the relapse rate for animal hoarders is near 100 percent.  An inadequate sentence for convicted animal hoarders—or one that is not enforced via regular official visits to ensure compliance—virtually guarantees a hoarder’s return to his or her ways, along with the disastrous consequences for humans and animals alike.  Dr. Gary Patronek found that nearly 60 percent of animal hoarding cases that he reviewed involved recidivism.

Judge asks for psychological assessment of rabbit hoarder

June 11, 2012 update: Shelley Zenner has been fined $8,500 and banned from owning pets, except a dog or cat that must be spayed or neutered. She is further banned from pet stores and must attend two years of counselling.

About hoarding:There has been considerable research done on animal hoarding.  Tufts: The Hoarding Animal Research Consortium is one such source.  (Hoarding) is about satisfying a human need to accumulate animals and control them, and this need supercedes the needs of the animals involved.

Encyclopedia Britannica, Advocacy for Animals - February 2nd, 2009 also has good information.
An excerpt from Prisoners of "Love" - the Victims of Animal Hoarding  

“…the most disturbing aspect of hoarding: the psychological blindness of hoarders, their sheer inability to see the reality of what they are doing and how they are living. Generally speaking, hoarders do not intend to be cruel, and yet the condition of the animals they keep is sometimes worse—and on a larger scale—than those hurt by the most deliberate kind of abusers.”
—Carrie Allan 

November 13, 2013 - 252 Rabbits, Goats, Chickens, Cats, Dogs and a Duck Rescued from Filth, Abuse in St. Clair

November 16, 2013 ‘Rabbit Lady’: No Reason to Take Animals

Comment: Repeat offences are very common as hoarding generally tends to be a chronic mental disorder. Criminal charges are expected to be filed, as they should be. This woman was running a business for many decades that led to inexcusable animal suffering and neglect. Shut her down once and for all.

Read more: Saga of a rabbit hoarder: a crime and an illness; suffering and neglect

Animal Cruelty Bill Timeline - Canada

Related: 1,000 animals rescued from horrific backyard breeding operation, Houston; over 200 outside Dallas; 92 rabbits & hamsters near Calgary, member of ARBA; Spokane animals seized, exploited as multi-purpose objects; Ohio cruelty

UVic moves to rabbit-free campus; there'll be no mercy; sanctuary news; Coombs calamity; a rabbit dead every 2nd day

Rabbit Mills & Pet Store Cruelty; mini rex club rabbits in garage cruelty, Indiana; Alabama hoarder couple's rabbits go to coroner/rabbit breeder

No-Kill, Rescue & Hoarding: An informative look at this issue July 20, 2015 When Is A Rescuer A Hoarder?

Kimi Peck was good at taking in stray and unwanted dogs that were at risk of being euthanized in public shelters. How she cared for the canines was another matter. After years of accusations, she’s on trial for animal cruelty