Few laws prevent hoarders from launching ‘bailouts’ and reoffending | Local News

ALEXANDRIA – Amy McCurry had concerns earlier this month as she and her colleagues on Alexandria City Council discussed updates to the city’s animal control ordinance.

The city has a facility that can be used to house abused and neglected animals that have been taken from their owners, but it is not in a condition to receive them.

“I don’t want us to be hypocrites and place expectations on residents that we cannot meet on our own,” she said.

Indeed, when it comes to animal rescue, it is difficult to know who to trust.

Some communities have created rescue organizations, such as Homer’s Helpers in Alexandria and the Animal Protection League in Anderson. But too often, animal rescuers said, there are thugs, like Nancy L. Clemmer, who pose as rescuers but whose animals need to be saved.

Recently, 94 animals were confiscated from Clemmer, a regular animal collector, who had similar incidents in Long Beach, California, and Niles, Michigan. Madison County 6 Circuit Court on Wednesday released the animals as wards of the court, allowing them to be adopted.

Susan Blake, executive director of Ambassadors for God’s Creatures, said she was not surprised to learn that Clemmer may have a history of hoarding elsewhere. It’s not uncommon for hoarders to start collecting animals again once a set has been taken down, often due to mental health issues, she said.

“A lot of times people don’t want anyone to know that,” Blake said. “There is also a secret around this. “

Hoarders often take in stray animals because their children want them, said Blake, who is a social worker. But soon, these so-called rescuers find themselves overwhelmed by the cost and lack of manpower to care for large groups of animals.

“They call it rescue, but for me it ends up being very irresponsible,” she said. “They think, ‘It’s just one more.’ But it’s not just about hosting an animal for a night. It is a mouth to feed, sterilize and sterilize, vaccinate.

That’s why when people are looking for food for their animals in the ambassadors’ pantry, they have to sign an agreement not to take in more animals while they are receiving help, Blake said.

“We see it all the time with the pet pantry,” she said. “They don’t have the means to take care of them. It becomes hoarding. They think they should welcome the animal. In their mentality, they think it is better for them to take him home or leave him in a shelter.

PLA executive director Maleah Stringer said one of his frustrations was a system that doesn’t stop serial animal hoarding.

“We go in, we clean up the mess, we find them homes. They are a little embarrassed, but they never get in trouble, ”she said. “Animal issues are so complex because they are viewed as property and you don’t want to just take someone’s property. “

There’s a fine line between rescue and hoarding – and unfortunately Indiana law doesn’t specify where that line is, Stringer said. While there may be local ordinances limiting the number of certain animals residents can have, anyone can set up as a “rescue.”

“There are cases of hoarding all over this county – more than anyone wants to know,” she said. “At some point, you have to fix it. “

The problem with hoarders is not only the animals, but the health and well-being of other household members as well, Stringer said.

“In most cases of hoarding, there are people who live in it who are addicted,” she said. “There are children. There are old people. “

Solutions can be expensive. Rescues could be authorized and monitored by a government agency, much like restaurants or daycares.

Heike Ramsey, adoption coordinator for Homer’s Helpers, said the situation at the Clemmer property resulted in 12 hours of labor collecting and placing the animals before the volunteers could even sit down and make a plan. A board member who owns a kennel has graciously offered to house some of the 21 dogs taken from Clemmer.

“Part of the process, we’ve learned, is that we definitely need our own place,” Ramsey said. “This hoarding situation was a real turning point in our rescue, and we pulled ourselves together.”

To follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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