He believed he was protecting the animals. Officials say he was oblivious to the stench and squalor conditions. And when the act of loving animals turns to hoarding animals, officials say it is hardly recognized or understood by neighbors and relatives.
The animals arrived at the PSPCA, some of them were emaciated, two of them bloodied after an apparent dog fight. In all, 12 dogs, 4 cats and one turtle were being housed in a row home in the 1300 block of 29th Street by a 42-year-old man.
The PSPCA was responding to a call of a possible dog fighting operation being run out of the row home. It turned out not to be but what they found officials say was typical of a person who hordes animals.
"The whole house was just totally covered in urine and feces, I mean it's just a mess inside," said George Bengal of the PSPCA.
Officials say the man appeared to be in complete denial of the squalor or the lack of care the animals were receiving.
According to a Tufts University study there are 1500 new cases of animal hoarding reported each year in this country. And yet, it is a poorly understood phenomenon. Often times, neighbors or relatives fail to recognize the signs. Animal hoarders are generally elderly but officials point out this man was only 42.
"This is a little unusual; usually you don't find someone quite this young being a hoarder."
The man faces multiple counts of animal cruelty. Up until recently animal hoarding did not receive serious attention by medical, mental health and public health professionals. It's only now beginning to be better understood. If you suspect someone is hoarding animals, the SPCA is asking that you call their toll free cruelty hotline at 866-601-SPCA (7722) or send an email to CRUELTY@PSPCA.ORG .