Watch Tip: Too Many Animals

Posted on July 10th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch closely any households in your neighborhood that keep large numbers of dogs or cats—they are very high risk for neglect. Look for signs: more and more animals, frequent litters, prominent hip bones, unkempt or thin fur, illnesses, and lethargic behaviors. The premises may be filthy and ramshackle. The owner may pose as a rescue to avoid intervention. Call the authorities immediately; this may be a “hoarder.”

Some animal lovers don’t understand their limits

Long-term animal suffering is the result, and in many instances, human suffering when children are involved. It is so very sad. A dedicated animal lover tries to provide a good home to a lot of animals—doesn’t that describe a lot of us? But a hoarder adds more animals to their household than they can support and care for—and this is important so please note—they deny that the care they provide is inadequate. They deny that their animals and others in the household are suffering.

What are the signs?

Look at the animals. Are they spayed and neutered (no litters)? Do they have good quality food and fresh water daily? Do they appear to be healthy and groomed? Are the animals contained safely (not roaming)? Are the premises clean, tidy, and in good repair? Does the owner invite friends and neighbors to visit, allowing access to the animals? This is an animal lover who is emotionally and financially capable of caring for many animals. As long as the situation is stable and the number of animals kept does not violate any local ordinances, there is not a problem here.

I have many friends who can be described as above. Animal lovers with some means tend to have large fur families! Many are involved in rescue and they make the world a better place for animals.

A serious problem can arise when an animal lover is mentally ill and is not able to recognize that their animals need more care. They deny that any of their animals are suffering–even if confronted about the animal carcasses on their property. They rationalize about any ill animal’s condition and the poor condition of the property, if you can coax them to converse with you at all (many are reclusive).

Usually nearby neighbors are aware and concerned. Speak with them if you suspect a problem; they can provide helpful information and insights. Collect information, as much as you can. Take detailed notes from conversations with the neighbors, and take zoom photos from legal roadways that show unsafe, deteriorating buildings or fencing, or many animals in windows.

If you suspect animals are being hoarded, take action.

You must act if you suspect a problem; potentially hundreds of animals will suffer and needlessly die, cats, dogs, birds, horses, and others. In many cases, the authorities are denied access to the house until something tragic happens. By that time, the enormous collection of sick animals becomes an emergency requiring regional and even national organizations to assist overwhelmed local resources. In one highly-publicized Ohio case, the community costs exceeded $1 million.

Local law enforcement is logically the first call you should make, but that is not always the case in some poorly-served regions. Be sure to research local ACO and shelter practices before assuming that these practices and services will prioritize the interests of animals or you could cause suffering to animals and their owners. You may need to reach outside of the municipality to ensure the situation is correctly assessed.

While elderly people are more at risk for this condition, in November 2009, Wisconsin parents with young children at home collected 197 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and small mammals. Dead animals were found on the property, and conditions in the home were filthy: gas masks helped authorities cope with the fumes. Many of the animals were starving and some died soon after being rescued. The situation was tragic. The couple was sentenced to 18 months probation and were allowed to keep 4 dogs. (Thank you to my friend Jackie for a recent update.)

Many animal hoarders, once convicted and animals removed, will continue to collect new animals, and cause another crisis in time. The illness is extremely difficult to treat. Read more here:

19 Responses to “Watch Tip: Too Many Animals”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kathy Pobloskie, Kathy Pobloskie. Kathy Pobloskie said: Wisconsin has had it's fair share of hoarders lately. […]

  2. Marie says:

    Why are you asking people to “spy” on their neighbors? I didnt realize this was not America anymore. What is considered too many animals? Is there some majick number? What if the animals are elderly and living out their last days in comfort? They can look “unhealthy” to a person that doesnt know. Should we all kill our elderly animals because someone considers them “unhealthy”?
    Owning multiple animals does not make a hoarder.

  3. Anna Nirva says:

    Let me put this another way. If you observed these circumstances in a neighboring home, what would you do: many frequent, short visits by a wide variety of vehicles; strange chemical smells in the air; trashy yard; syringes in ditches nearby; unkempt thin children that appear to be unwatched too often? Would you suspect a meth lab? Would you try to alert the authorities? Would you take notes about your observations to help the authorities get more information?

    Here’s another one. If you observe young girls wearing very revealing clothing living in a neighboring home; many frequent, short visits by a wide variety of vehicles at all hours of the night; condoms in ditches nearby; unkempt thin children that appear to be unwatched too often? Would you suspect child slavery and prostitution? Would you want the authorities to check?

    Put the nazi word away. You don’t need to be insulting to make a point. When is the privacy argument going too far? Let’s have a real dialog here.

  4. True hoarders are mentally ill. Removing all of their animals won’t cure them; neither will anything else you’ve suggested. If you really care, become an accredited social worker or psychologist and specialize in helping hoarders recognize their illness.

    Attitudes like yours don’t solve problems; they exacerbate them.

  5. Joy Ward says:

    Thank you, Anna, for this post. You are suggesting we watch out for animal safety and I appreciate that.

    Only the most paranoid person would think this post encourages turning “neighbor against neighbor.” If your neighbor is hoarding animals then your neighbor needs help. More importantly, the animals need help. The only way to legally get help for the animals is to make appropriate and extensive notes otherwise the authorities will nto be able to step in and take the animals to safety.

    Those of you decrying this post sound EXACTLY like the puppy millers and their supporters who whine that they have every legal right to keep hundreds or thousands of dogs in horrific conditions. Those people whine that they should be left alone and use the boogie man of “big government” to throw a slimy smoke screen over their evil activities.

    If you have ever actually seen the results of hoarding then I doubt you would be so vocal in defending them. Get out there then next time one of these “neighbors” is found to have fifty or a hundred dogs living in their own feces and then come back and defend them. If you can do that then I sincerely doubt your interest in any form of animal welfare.

    If you have a problem supporting community-based animal welfare efforts like these then I suggest you are in the wrong online neighborhood.

    Once again, thank you Anna.

  6. Anna Nirva says:

    Privacy laws protect us from unwanted intrusions. Law enforcement will tell you that only physical evidence of a probable crime can convince a judge to issue a search warrant and enter your home or buildings.

    If you suspected a child prostitution ring or a meth lab were operating on your block, as I’ve suggested above, or an animal hoarder, I think some of you might be willing to help law enforcement. You only want privacy to to protect the innocent, correct? And you want criminal activity to be addressed appropriately. I’m not suggesting you trespass or attempt to enter fraudulently or commit any crime, so please calm down, folks.

    Thanks Joy for reminding everyone that this blog is dedicated to animal welfare issues.

  7. Anna Nirva says:

    A number of comments from a group of people that apparently have agendas unrelated to animal welfare have been deleted. The level of discourse was a concern to me. The writers of most of the comments had privacy concerns; they believe neighbors should not take action if they observe possible animal hoarders in their neighborhoods, to protect their privacy. A few writers had concerns that people keeping larger numbers of animals could be misunderstood. One was concerned about the stigma of mental illness causing harm to a possible hoarder; this comment I considered keeping. The writers did not contribute to a meaningful discussion, did not supply any reasonable options to my recommendations, and almost all of them included insults and inflammatory language. A few of them included somewhat mild personal threats. Sunbear Squad readers deserve better comments.

  8. dog gone it says:

    Organizations like HSUS are trying to blur the lines between responsible show/pet/rescue dog owners and people who truly have a problem with caring for X number of animals. The HSUS definition of animal hoarding is keeping more than the typical number of animals and failing to provide adequate care for them. Their definition of a typical number is 2.3. This leads the public to perceive that people who own six dogs, say, are hoarders.

    HSUS President Wayne Pacelle states on his blog that “Anti-cruelty statutes were not drafted with animal hoarding in mind, and generally do not facilitate effective prosecution and resolution of such cases. We need a broader range of public policy solutions focusing on hoarding and that’s something we’ll be working on in states in 2010 and beyond.”

    HSUS has been hard at work to have their definition of animal hoarding listed as a mental illness. Truth is not important to their campaign — perception is. And the more they can add genuine mental illnesses to the mix, the more they can poison people’s perceptions of everyone who keeps animals.

    Their vehicle is an organization called The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC). The HARC organization is maintained by Gary Patronek, who is neither a psychologist nor psychiatrist. HSUS and other AR activists are funding HARC.

    The HARC unit has presented an animal hoarding diagnosis and definition to the American Psychiatric Association, whose report, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV 1994), is considered the definitive word in the mental health field. Currently the manual does not recognize hoarding as a mental illness. However, it does mention that hoarding can be a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder. The DSM IV task force is in the process of updating information for the DSM V, due in May 2013.

    Hoarders are also defined by the HSUS as having an inability to recognize the lack of care they are giving their animals and are generally middle aged and older.

    AR activists do not believe humans can provide adequate care for animals. We’ve seen animal cruelty charges based on longish nails, a few mats, a spot of tarter on the teeth — and the list goes on. If it is not squeaky clean, it is filthy and deplorable. Try to dispute that this is not inadequate care and you are seen as unable to recognize the abuse.

    HARC is striving to educate the public to see animal hoarding as a widespread public health problem instead of the isolated cases that they are. AR groups will continue to promote what they see as the normal number of dogs, and they will push for stricter laws to ‘keep’ breeders and rescuers from turning into mentally ill hoarders. They are trying to blur the lines between responsible show/pet/rescue dog owners and people who truly have a problem with caring for X number of animals.

    Would you have a problem if state or federal law prohibited you from using crates in your home — or limited you to X dogs and puppies in your home at any given time, because more than X dogs, including puppies, would mean that you are hoarding?

  9. Cynthia says:

    I had thought the posts there that you removed were animal welfare people and I’ve forgotten but seemed like they were asking how you would feel if someone “set” people on YOU as an animal owner. Strange how people perceive things, isn’t it. I honestly think the info you put out will just cause grief to most……I wish you would rethink it, and the post from dog gone it, is very good. You know, when people work with an animal in the show ring for years and achieve high awards, they are “very close” and when that animal retires and grows old a few want “more” but most are just happy to see you come home again while showing their offspring!! Sometimes they still travel with one to the shows but don’t get to do much, just feel a part of it still. Old animals don’t look the same as they did when they were in their prime you know…but even when the exhibitor knows they are old and not the same, they still ARE (inside). People used to multiple births and show dogs, are much accustomed to caring for more than 2 or 3 dogs……when you are getting them ring ready, its “just” another day at the dog shows….you can have them all done up and in the ring!! It’s a learned art but its easily done with some breeds, and yet when you are USED to it…its all “just another day”…..blown coats…well they look tacky but they will come back into coat….people who really “know” dogs, understand it those who don’t, will never “get it” and a bitch in season is going to BLOW COAT within a few weeks of that cycle….we all know that even when we try to “hold coat”….did you know that? It doesn’t mean you are going to breed them, but you live thru it and go back out when the coat “looks better in about (mostly) 6 weeks !!

  10. Anna Nirva says:

    Thank you for this long and thoughtful post, Dog Gone It. I appreciate reading your point of view and have learned from it. It sounds as though you have experienced (or someone you know has experienced) questionable application of animal cruelty laws to prosecute an individual who provided adequate care to animals in the household or organization. You are concerned that Sunbear Squad readers and Neighborhood Watch leaders might not be educated enough or impartial enough to interpret signs of cruelty correctly, and I think that is valid—and also valid of any neighbor or any passerby. None of us has the professional qualifications to pass judgment, and yet when confronted with a difficult situation, many of us will try to help the animals, the people, or all of them. One way or another.

    Your point speaks to all people who are moved to take action to help an animal or a person in distress. Is there a problem, really? All of us as responsible citizens must be careful and analytical. All of us should be good neighbors as well, and if you read other blog posts (or content on the main web site), you’ll find many references and suggestions about talking to neighbors first, in non-urgent situations, as well as suggestions to be careful and analytical, and other supports.

    In my neck of the woods, where I’m a board member and very dedicated volunteer for the regional no-kill shelter, we heard for years about a nearby rescue that was home to over 350 dogs, cats, horses, sheep, and goats. It was the topic of many worried conversations because of reports of sick and dying animals being adopted, poor conditions in the 3 buildings, and lack of volunteer support. It was also the county pound, until finally law enforcement acting on complaints of neighbors and adopters contacted the Humane Society of the United States. You probably have heard of the Thyme and Sage Ranch rescue in May 2009 in Wisconsin. Whether or not the rescue owner (who was considered to be a hoarder) is mentally ill or has a OCD disorder, I am of course not qualified to say. Only the professional who treats her is.

    I don’t know if hoarding is widespread or isolated, and suspect the truth is somewhere in between. Is the term hoarder misused by professionals at times to describe shelters, rescues or breeders that are not in favor?

    About limits to companion animals or crates–I don’t tend to support the concept. I have known many people with large fur families (as I’ve written in the original post) who take exemplary care of all. Yet in our township we have a dog limit of 3 and we have 3 big dogs. I would rather avoid limits and trust in the neighborhood and the community to watch out for those that get into trouble.

    Sunbear Squad promotes Neighborhood Watches for animals in memory of Sunbear who died of neglect. The blog is a tool to provide additional information and advice to help animal lovers be better good Samaritans.

    How would you edit my original post, I wonder, to clarify your point about misidentifying hoarders? If I understand you correctly. I hope so. Thank you again for taking the time and care to share this knowledge. Thank you for being courteous.

  11. Anna Nirva says:

    I appreciate hearing your thoughts and your congenial way of expressing them, Cynthia. Yet I don’t think that promoting neighbors watching out for problems is problematic–I hope it is helpful. In the United States, we have Neighborhood Watches, Block Watches, Crime Watches, Crime Stopper programs, in cities large and small. Sunbear Squad promotes Neighborhood Watches for companion and domestic animals. (I hope you can take some time one day and look around the site,

    If a neighbor unreasonably “sets” people on you or anyone with too many animals (or other animal-related issues), I tend to think other reasonable neighbors won’t pay much attention for long. Busybodies and gossips usually soil their own nests a lot more than others’ nests. If a large number of animals lives in a neighborhood home that is also a rescue, I do believe problems will inevitably arise with more than one neighbor. Residential neighborhoods are not designed for that.

    I do take your point about animals that don’t look healthy, and have urged readers many times to be careful to consider all possibilities. My husband and I nursed a senior dog through a few years of some kind of metabolic disorder; he couldn’t get the calories out of the food as he did when younger. He was emaciated but had a wonderful appetite. We fed him enormous quantities of very excellent food and whole food supplements like cooked meat and fish. We loved him so but felt we had to explain to everyone who met him that we were not starving him to death. He was a Great Dane and he lived to over 10 years.

  12. Feline Provocateur says:

    Aug 4 comment:> A number of comments from a group of people that apparently have agendas unrelated to animal welfare have been deleted.

    Censoring a public blog insinuates that:

    a. You have a control problem.
    b. You think your readers aren’t sufficiently intelligent to make up their own minds about the subject under discussion.

  13. Rosebud says:

    Well…Amen to FP’s post…a public blog should be “public”. And open to various opinions and viewpoints. We only learn through conflict and difference of opinion. I understand moderating language…but if people don’t have as many points of view as possible, how can they make an educated and informed decision?

    And this IS neighbor spying on neighbor. This is not a neighborhood watch, or a crime watch. This is reporting your neighbor. You are not protecting them, you are not watching “out” for them. You are spying on your neighbor, clear and simple.

    Neighborhood watches and such are neighbors looking out for neighbors against “outside” perpetrators. I guess you could have a criminal living in your neighborhood, but I doubt many would want to operate there. (that “soiling where you sleep” concept…) And it is possible that juveniles in the neighborhood could also be responsible for mischief…but for the most part, neighborhood watches and similar groups are there to protect you from outside “predators”…not to spy and report on each other. To say nothing about neighbors having to make “assessments” which they may not be qualified to do…god forbid you have a dog with cancer, undergoing chemo or radiation….or even just living out its few remaining days or weeks, even as a skeleton. But home where it is comfortable to spend its last days. God forbid I rescue or adopt a dog that is in poor condition, and I’m nursing it back. I fostered a dog that was skin and bones, and only hours away from death…from a shelter, no less. She stayed with us, until we could transport her to the rescue. She was a neglect case that went to court, so when I got her…she looked awful. She was so weak, she could barely stand long enough to potty. Should I be reported? What if I rescue another one in that condition in the future…OMG, “she starves all the dogs that come into her house…and then they disappear. There’s something not right going on over there!” That’s what a neighbor might think. And it wouldn’t be my next door neighbors, because they know my dogs, and my house…but neighbors down the block, walking down the alley, probably don’t. God forbid you change food, or your dog gets a bug and has diarrhea for a couple of days. And/or vomits. And loses weight. God forbid your dog blow coat, and look like it has mange (most breeds blow twice a year, especially females after their season (and loses weight, which is common during season as well, since many females go off their food)…and god forbid, I’m a hoarder if I have an intact dog, and breed a litter of puppies???!!! What if I own a breed that is cropped or docked and they see the puppy in headgear and bandaged ears, and they don’t agree with cropping? Am I a hoarder if I have four dogs? Or six? What IS a hoarder, and how do neighbors “understand” and “apply” that definition? God forbid my field dogs come back from practice with a scratch or cut or two…(yes, indication of fighting dogs…because god knows…Weimaraners are a known fighting breed!) God forbid if my dog’s nails are longer than what my neighbor thinks they should be. What the heck!!?? YIKES!!! What makes my neighbor any kind of expert on dog health? Or on breeds of dogs? And what is “normal”? And many of these cases are simply because one neighbor doesn’t like the other…and it has NOTHING to do with the dogs…and sometimes neighbors aren’t well liked for whatever reason…so should this be how you can “get back” at them? Do you simply report everyone you “think” “might” be hoarding, or has a dog in “bad” condition, and let A/C work it out? And I’m assuming that this “reporting” is anonymous, correct? So I can make a complaint in complete anonymity? Can I just make a complaint because I don’t like my neighbor? And since I know they aren’t Martha Stewart, I can make their life miserable, since I “think” they are hoarder? There’s piles of mail, and the house is always dusty, and their house is CERTAINLY not as clean as mine, so they must be hoarders…

    And you say “If a neighbor unreasonably “sets” people on you or anyone with too many animals (or other animal-related issues), I tend to think other reasonable neighbors won’t pay much attention for long. Busybodies and gossips usually soil their own nests a lot more than others’ nests”. Uh huh….sure. How well do you know all the neighbors on your blocks? Would they defend you? Do they even KNOW you?! I think the answer in most neighborhoods these days, is “no”. Unless you have been in your home for extensive periods of time, and it’s an older neighborhood, that hasn’t experienced a lot of “movement”. And how do you ever know which neighbor complained? And would anyone in the neighborhood KNOW THAT person?

    The other reality to consider is…that one does not have to be found guilty these days…if there is any “insinuation” that you have done “something”…and especially if it involves animals…public opinion will judge you long before you ever a see a court, and also remember, in most states, your animals can be removed without a finding of guilt. And if you DO go to court (most cases don’t, because you are bullied and threatened to give up your animals…) and even if you don’t, many new laws allow for seizure and FINAL disposition of animals before you ever go TO court. Even if found, “not-guilty”, you have no way to get your animals back. The ruling at the “hearing” (note…HEARING…NOT TRIAL) is final. And in Texas, most JP’s have NO law background. It’s not required. They are usually political positions, meaning their brother-in-law is sheriff, or their dad is the mayor…or your sister-in-law is the city manager. So forgive me, until our legal system provides better protection for our citizens, I would rather not have any more obstacles to having pets. And this is spying. Spin it anyway you want….it’s spying on each other…and making determinations based on an “opinion” most likely without merit. And I believe we still have the expectation of privacy in our homes and yards.

    In theory, this a noble concept. In reality, it infringes far too deeply into civil rights issues…and all legislation must be viewed from the perspective of how much harm it can do to innocent people, and not how much “good” it can do against the guilty. It is far better for a thousand guilty men to go free, than to execute one innocent. The law should protect the rights of the common citizen. These types of concepts (spying on neighbors) are the very antithesis of American ideals.

    JMHO….but I do actively get involved with these types of initiatives. I’m not a wallflower. I actively work with cities to defeat such harmful notions.

  14. Anna Nirva says:

    A note to all: this blog is owned by Sunbear Squad Inc., which is not a publicly-held corporation. It is a private non-profit. We maintain our right to edit content as we see fit. Contradictory opinions are very welcome as you can see above, but posts that include insulting and inflammatory language will always be deleted — as is our right.

  15. Anna Nirva says:

    Rosebud said: “It is far better for a thousand guilty men to go free, than to execute one innocent.”

    Does that mean that a thousand guilty abusers of companion and domestic animals should go free as opposed to catching one innocent (one who might appear to be abusive but is not)? Is that what you believe? Sister, you are on the wrong blog. This is an animal welfare blog. I hope you think more deeply about this in the future. Protecting animal abusers in the name of privacy is more than sad. It is pathetic.

    And it is not just animals who suffer. These peculiar and sick people typically abuse their human family members also. Yet in the name of privacy, you would let them continue. Have you ever seen tears on the cheeks of a downtrodden dog? I have. Dear Rosebud. I hope you wake up someday.

  16. Ask a few questions about why somebody refuses to help another person who obviously needs help and your comment gets deleted off the, er, um, PRIVATE blog. You really cannot say my comment had nothing to do with animal welfare since I asked you why you were not interested in helping clean, walk or feed the animals you claim are being abused, which, by any account, comes under the heading of animal welfare or animal care. As for the rest of my comment that you displayed cowardice in removing, I rest my case. It is ALWAYS the people who are the nosiest who REFUSE TO answer to anyone else. Yet, somehow, everyone always has to answer to THEM.

  17. Feline Provocateur says:

    Anna, either you missed my point or you didn’t understand it. Do you *really* think your readers are too stupid to make up their own minds?

    Sure, it’s your right to delete what you like. But if you want to expand your readership, being censorious is not the way to do it. Delete anyone who challenges you, and you’ll end up preaching to your choir of buddies.

    Besides, Rosebud has a point. Several years ago, I found a mange-covered cat outside my house and took him to the vet. I hadn’t been in the waiting room for five minutes when another customer began berating me for “not taking care of my pet”.

    Jumping to conclusions can endanger animals. Why encourage others to do so?

  18. “Jumping to conclusions can endanger animals. Why encourage others to do so?”

    Because they do not care about the animals and they just want to feel important. It’s that way all over. There are too few people in rescue who are in it for the animals, and way too many who want you to think they are more compassionate than everybody else within ear-shot. TSBS (The Sunbear Squad) are NOT alone in this type of behavior. The most insecure among us seem to have a pathological need to attack the most helpless animals and their owners. The world, and unfortunately much of animal rescue, is full of people who think that ONLY the animals THEY rescue DESERVE to be fostered/vetted/saved/adopted/etc. I have no idea if TSBS are animal rescuers, but the attitude displayed on this website goes hand-in-hand with the one I have described in this post. My heart aches for every cat that will be swung against a wall by an animal-hating ACO, and every cat whose legs will be broken in the ACO nets simply because this bunch of low self esteem busibodies cannot keep their hatred of their neighbors and the poor defenseless animals to themselves. One should never ever advocate violence against animals in the name of saving them from some imagined abuse, simply so one can feel good about one’s self. But, it happens everyday, and everywhere.

    I will never forget the devastated old lady that lived down the street who was treating her dog for cancer. Some idiot neighbors, much like TSBS, called animal control. She was arrested, her dog died in “custody” because the animal raid team did not want anything to do with the medical records. It turned out they put the dog, who had cancer and, yes, was very skinny – you tend to get that way when you are old and have cancer – in with other sick dogs and it died very quickly because of the immune suppression drugs it had been taking, making it vulnerable to all the diseases and germs in the animal shelter. Meanwhile, the woman was hauled into court and lost her life savings. I dearly and truly hope that when TSBS does this to some poor innocent person and their poor innocent animal with cancer, diabetes, CRF, etc. dies as a result, that The Sunbear Squad busibodies are sued for all the money they had, have and ever will have. It would serve you right, every last one of you.

    And, the animals whose deaths you caused will still be dead…

    But, hey, why would TSBS care about that, they’ll have their name in the paper, on the news, in court documents, on the public record, maybe they’ll get lucky and it will go national.

  19. Anna Nirva says:

    It sounds like a few of you live in places served by animal-unfriendly ACO services — to an extent that you are extremely concerned about animals being mistreated and poorly cared for in shelters/pounds, as well as their owners being misunderstood and unfairly prosecuted.

    To prevent further miscarriages of justice, you believe that asking neighbors to provide information to the authorities is the wrong approach. You believe authorities can’t be trusted to enforce cruelty laws or make sound judgments about animals who may be sick or elderly. I think the information you have provided in your comments helps to educate readers that it is essential that they become informed about whether ACO services in their community can be trusted.

    As a result of your passionate comments, I’m going to modify my original post to advise readers to research local ACO and shelter practices before assuming that these practices and services have the best interests of animals at heart. Some ACO and shelter/pound practices can be downright dangerous to needy animals. I think that is the gist of the objections above. I hope you agree.

    Thankfully in many municipalities, unlike yours, ACO officers and shelter/pound leaders are compassionate animal lovers who can be trusted to make good decisions most of the time. I’m glad needy companion and domestic animals in my region are served by trustworthy professionals who enforce existing laws.

    Gene Fields, the ACO in West Virginia who pursued justice for Sunbear for many months in his spare time, is a shining example of many thousands of ACOs and Dog Wardens who do everything possible to save dogs and cats every day. He told me that the saddest part of his job was seeing neighbors who did not call the authorities when a nearby animal was clearly being neglected or abused. That comment was the motivation for founding Sunbear Squad and the neighborhood watches. I’m still committed to this mission.