Cat Hoarder’s Neighbors Help Clean Her Home

cat hoarder helped by neighbors1

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The neighbors of a Fort Myers Shores cat hoarder will be spending the weekend helping clean the woman’s home, NBC2 reported March 20.

Lee County resident Sandra Berkshire got in way over her head trying to care for 72 cats inside her 4th Street home. An anonymous tip led Lee County Animal Care Services to the home on March 18, where more than six dozen cats were living in cages in their own waste. It took more than seven hours for animal control to get all of the cats out of the house. Most of them had fleas, among other issues. Now Sandra’s neighbor’s want to help her out, especially since a few of them gave Sandra cats they could no longer care for themselves.

Here’s a news video where Sandra explains what happened. She had been taking in cats no one else wanted and adopting them out. During the past five years things got out of control. Sandra says she’s been begging for help to find homes for the cats, and is sorry the county had to step in.

Note: is the video below fails to show, please refresh the page, which should fix it. WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

Since the cats were removed from the home, the home has been deemed uninhabitable. The neighbors plan to change that on Saturday. They say Sandra has always been there for them as they faced family problems, and now they want to help her to put her home straight.

Anyone wanting to help clean March 22 is asked to email None of the neighbors were aware that many cats were living in one house. Sandra is staying with friends until her home is cleaned. She was given two weeks to get her property cleaned up, or faces a $250 per day fine.

Neighbor Danielle Null said in an interview with NBC2 News

“Now that we’ve got the cat situation taken care of. It’s time to help her take care of herself and get back into her house.”

Danielle also says that had she known about this situation before the authorities got involved she would have done everything in her power to find these cats good homes instead of having them live the way that they were.

The cats are staying at the Lee County Domestic Animal Services, where a Nine Lives Adoption promotion is being planned. The cats from the hoarding case can be adopted for only $9. For questions, please see the Animal Services website, where phone numbers and hours of operation are listed.

There’s no word on whether Sandra is facing any charges at this time. Sandra says she’s embarrassed about the shape of her home, but is thankful she has such wonderful neighbors who are willing to help her get back to a normal life.

This isn’t the first case of animal hoarding this month in Lee County. Several cases have been exposed recently, with more people turning in their neighbors since news media has brought a lot of attention to the Fort Myers area. It’s believed there are more than 100 hoarding cases out there that haven’t been dealt with.



24 thoughts on “Cat Hoarder’s Neighbors Help Clean Her Home”

  1. I just wanted to post because I noticed that this article states that I was one of the people to give Sandy one of my cats. That is incorrect information, if you follow the videos from NBC-2 you will see it was in fact Betty who gave Sandy one of her cats. I have four and I wouldnt dream of giving them away, let alone to a home that I couldnt check out first. Also, I feel that I should mention that had I known about this situation before the authorities got involved I would have done everything in my power to find these cats good homes instead of having them live the way that they were. The issue now is getting the smell and the mess taken care of with little to no resources since nobody has come forward to offer help or donations despite speaking up in the beginning.

    • Danielle, thank you very much for taking the time to comment and rectify the error. It is much appreciated. I presume that you are one of the ladies who is involved in cleaning the home. If I’m correct then I would like to say well done. I think the general opinion of people who have read the story is that the neighbours have responded in a very nice, positive way which is different to what is commonly encountered under these circumstances.

      • One has to help their neighbors and watch out for them. You never know when you are going to be in the position to ask for help, or needing help but being too embarrassed to ask. My main goal in life is to be a good person and set a good example for not only my children, but those who see me as a peer in society. I hope that this will enfluence more people to see the good in the world and do more to help where it is needed instead of walking by and ignoring, or even judging the person in need. Thank you for correcting the error in the article.

  2. Speaking as someone who has gotten in over their head previously in rescue, as well as over committed, I can honestly say that you have to b extremely careful. Cat hoarders don’t necessarily say “if i don’t help them who will?” that’s more an animal rescuer’s behavior who goes beyond their limit. For hoarders, it’s more about themselves and i think somehow the animal represents unconditional love for them.

    Hoarding is also a form of OCD and they don’t just necessarily hoard animals but things too. There are many people in the world that could be described as having OCD or being hoarders, they just display their collections nicer of whatever it is they are passionate about. The test for me, is how well overall, any person with pets is able to care for themselves and the pets.

    I have just recently been made aware of a young couple who have at least 14 or more cats in their home that are not vaccinated, spayed, and are breeding and inbreeding as well. The wife of the young couple, claims that her mother “left the place to them with all these cats”, and yet the couple has done nothing about the cats, the breeding, are actually neglecting them because they are obviously unhealthy, and just randomly posts kittens for free on various online listing sources. They are letting the problem continue!! To me these people are a serious case of hoarders out of simply not caring!!

    There are so many ways that one can fall into the hoarding category, and don’t get me wrong, 67 cats is unreal!!-but i must say that i tend to agree with the person who commented that it was a reflection of our society in general. oh and another thing, when there are that many animals in a house, regardless whether it’s all cats, a mix of dogs and cats, etc, and the house is unclean the ammonia levels usually reach such high numbers that with long term exposure, it can cause the occupants brain damage.

    Whether or not the ammonia levels cause the animals brain damage is not certain, but it can’t, overall, be good for them if we know how it can impact us since we and our companion animals really aren’t all that different. Whether it is one cat, one dog, 14 cats, 25 dogs, or 67 animals in total, we have a serious national epidemic, one that is impacting us all, and that’s the sad state of affairs we have as a nation in whole, to properly, compassionately, responsibly and respectful combat the homeless pet population-it could easily be stated that it is truly a world wide epidemic really.

    If it’s not hoarding, it’s torture, if it’s not torture, then it’s neglect. if it’s not canned hunting, then it’s animal testing. As a whole, we need to not only demand, but take action to make it stop. Say NO to people who aren’t educated and prepared for the responsibility of a pet. Say NO to people who have a record of animal abuse, dog fighting, etc. Say NO to the backyard breeders and puppy mill owners that they can no longer have pets, and literally get in peoples faces to educate educate educate. This is the only way we are truly going to bring about massive change within our societies as to how animals are viewed: that pet ownership isn’t a right but a priviledge, and that animals are “things” but species who are tremendously intelligent and deserve our love and respect at the very least.

    • Lu Anne, Thank you for taking the time to write your excellent comment which adds to the page and I always like comments that actually add to the continent of the original article. Stick around and makes a more comments if you can 🙂


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