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Addressing the Roots of Animal Hoarding. HSGC is a leader in changing sentencing policy in hoarding cases. HSGC responds to hoarding. HSGC is the responder to calls regarding animal hoarding situations – several times each year.

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addressing the roots of animal hoarding

Addressing the Roots of Animal Hoarding

HSGC is a leader in changing sentencing policy in hoarding cases

hsgc responds to hoarding
HSGC responds to hoarding
  • HSGC is the responder to calls regarding animal hoarding situations – several times each year.
  • Requires action on short notice and consumes significant staff time and HSGC resources to respond to call and to care for large sudden influx of animals.
  • HSGC staff partners with law enforcement and social services to assess situation and seize animals where necessary.
  • Parties decide whether to challenge seizure, and animals held until ownership determination.
  • Animals evaluated, vetted, cleaned and fed, boarding until either returned or released for adoption.
today s news flash
TODAY’S NEWS FLASH:

Hoarding case settled in Goodhue Co. District Court:

  • Guilty pleas to Count 4 & Count 5-Animal Waste-Unlawful Acts and Dog & Cat Regulation & Licensing. 
  • Supervised probation to Goodhue County Court Services for one year;
  • Undergo a psychological evaluation/follow recommendations;
  • No ownership or possession of any new animals not currently owned or possessed;
  • No contact with adopters of animals
  • Pay Civil Judgment (restitution) as able, via P.O.
why is this news
Why is this news?
  • County, and law enforcement generally, have not taken hoarding seriously.
  • Hoarding is not “let’s do a reality show” cute.
  • Recidivism rate for hoarding is essentially 100%.
  • Hoarding is now recognized as a psychological disorder in the recently released DSM-5. Treatment is available, though “new” to many practitioners.
  • Costs to HSGC and society of hoarding are immense, and we cannot shoulder that load.
  • Today’s sentencing result is a policy shift.
26 animals seized from home
26 animals seized from home
  • Case began over 6 months ago when home investigated after juvenile went to Social Services for help for friend living in dire conditions in hoarding home.
  • Two weeks after report and investigation, warrant obtained, home entered, and children removed to safe place.
  • 26 animals seized – 7 dogs and 19 cats.
hsgc pushes for policy shift
HSGC pushes for policy shift
  • After learning of case, considering number of animals, impacts, and costs, I suggested Victims Impact Statement to make claim for restitution, and with main goal of intervention to push defendant into psych evaluation for hoarding.
  • Similar to process in DUI cases, where sentence typically includes ETOH assessment and follow up.
  • Never been done before by HSGC! DOH!
  • HSGC Board approved effort. YEA!
  • Victims Services for county was enthusiastic! Never been done to advocate’s knowledge!
victims impact statement filed
Victims’ Impact Statement filed
  • Victims Impact Statement filed on behalf of HSGC and the 26 animals.
  • Provided information on hoarding, including studies, book detailing treatment of hoarding, and list of practitioners addressing hoarding.
  • Impacts included specifics of harm done and staff compiled detailed itemized cost estimate with medical records and documentation.
  • Much time was not included, VERY conservative estimate.
ta da success
TA-DA!!! Success!!!
  • Today, defendant pleads guilty to two of the six animal related counts. Sentence:
    • Probation for one year;
    • Psych evaluation, focused on hoarding and any other issues, and follow recommendation;
    • Restitution to HSGC of $3,367.40 - Civil Judgment;
    • No new animals;
    • No contact with adoptive owners of animals.
sentencing
Sentencing
  • Child Endangerment count and the other three animal related charges were dismissed.
  • Sentence framed exactly as HSGC requested!
  • Judge stated that, “the realm of criminal law has a broad reach. It might be a stretch to think of that as criminal, but that is how our legislature has structured it. What will help is having the right attitude… looking at you, I could be wrong, but I have the impression that you think we’re inconveniencing you, and I hope you will think about it and adjust your attitude going forward.”
next steps
Next Steps

GOAL: Hoarding psych evaluation and follow through for all hoarding cases!

  • Have begun reaching out to other jurisdictions handling hoarding cases.
  • Provide information on our success!
  • Provide updates on psych acknowledgement of and treatment of hoarding.
  • Provide information about psych practitioners handling hoarding cases.
  • Rather easily accomplished out of the gate. We can accomplish this goal!
feel free to contact me with questions
Feel free to contact me with questions:

Carol Overland

Attorney at Law

Legalectric, Inc.

overland@legalectric.org