SPCA describes "House of horrors"

VINELAND, N.J. - October 17, 2008 - Authorities raided a house at 741 Foster Ave in Vineland late Friday where they found a 57 year old woman living alongside 36 cats, 5 dogs, 2 macaws, a love bird and a rabbit.

"The basement was littered with fecal matter, the carpets were rather soaked with urine, the smell was very bad, it was overwhelming," said Bev Greco of the Cumberland County SPCA.

Predictably, say authorities, many of the animals were sickly or matted with urine.

They even found 7 cats crammed into one dog crate.

As is so often the case, authorities say the woman, Brenda Rhodes, did not see herself as hoarding animals, but rather saving their lives.

"Here in Cumberland County, we deal with at least a dozen of these cases a year at least," Greco said.

As it turns out, Greco says Rhodes is a repeat offender, as are so many others charged in animal hoarding cases.

Greco said she thinks people charged with hoarding should be required to receive mental health treatment.

"Is it addressed properly? No. Is the medical research out there? Absolutely, but until our animal cruelty laws catch up with medical science, there is going to be a gap on how these people are handled and addressed," Greco said.

Brenda Rhodes faces a number of charges including cruelty to animals, failure to provide veterinary care and improper confinement.

SPCA officials say they won't know until next week if any of the animals will be suitable for adoption.

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